Blood and Sand
Christian, Age 12, Easton, CT

Who am I? How did I get here? Six months ago I was a straight -A student living in a small Connecticut town. Three months ago I signed up for the army at my town hall and got sent to basic training. Last month I was assigned to the 1st infantry division as a rifleman. Now I am a pale frightened grunt in a roaring LCVT. I can barely remember that young eager boy inside of me that wasn’t afraid of risks and loved adventure. Now I just wish I was a turtle so I could duck my head into my protective shell and stay there.

As the roar of artillery and mortar shells woke me from my delirious state, I was rushed back into the reality of the battle that was just starting. “One minute!” our captain bellowed over the roar of the waves and screams. I was at the back of the LCVT when it happened. I don’t even remember if it had even been a minute since our captain bellowed, but what I did know was that when the steel doors dropped, I saw things that will never leave my mind no matter how badly I try to forget these thoughts. They were ready. When the steel doors dropped the Germans opened up.

The air was filled with the stench of smoke and smoldering metal. I watched in horror as my fellow brothers in arms were cut down and fell at my side. I did the only sensible thing I could do - I crouched low and ran forward into the enemy fire. I never looked back, afraid of what sights my eyes would see, but right ahead were sights so horrible I wanted to close my eyes and try to wake myself from this nightmare. I was shell-shocked from the sight of my men being blown to pieces around me and the sounds that probably blew my eardrums. I ran zigzagging back and forth to the nearest hedgehog and went prone. I looked around and my whole squad was either dead or lying on the ground screaming for a medic like the other countless soldiers littering Omaha Beach. I ran to the nearest sand dune but before I could, a mortar round knocked me off my feet and rendered me unconscious.

Finally, I awake from my deep sleep on the sandy shores of Franc, four hours later on June sixth. I sit up and look at my wounds, feeling light headed. I collapse again and stare at the sky. A young navy corpsman leaned over me and yelled for a stretcher. As I was lifted up onto the stretcher I got a better look at my wounds. Thankfully since it was a distant round I was only peppered with shrapnel up and down my leg. They told me I would live but I would spend the next week in a field hospital. On the bright side, today I earned my first medal - a purple heart.

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