by Nihil D. Benuche (Bulldog)
The morning silence explodes in a roar
As ship after ship sends shells slamming into the shore.
Up on decks in rank after rank they stand in silence, waiting.
The word yet to come.
The Gunny roars out, "Saddle up! Stand by!"
It's over the side and down the rope ladder, on the rising tide.
Four abreast its over the side, down the rope for a Higgins Boat ride.
As each boat fills and moves, another appears to take Marines for a ride.
Out in the water, 'round and 'round they circle,
"Now keep your head down!"
Boat after boat till they're all there.
The Marines are ready; the run to the beach is near.
The ships still fire round after round.
Good Lord almighty! Is anyone still alive on the ground?
Out of the heavens in screaming dives,
Planes drop their bombs, taking still more lives.
In sweeping turns, they wash the beach clear
For fellow Marines so dear.
The flag goes up, the boats move forward,
Lining abreast like an old Calvary charge.
Gunning their engines to hold the line.
Some Marines peer over the side to see
This island we're taking . . . just so wide.
God! Its dirty and dark with a mountain on the side.
For this piece of dirt were taking this ride?
"Knock it off! Get down, if ya wanna stay alive!"
Closer and closer the boats on line
Head for the beach and a place in time.
"Incoming!" yells the Gunny this time.
"Keep your heads down; we'll ride with the whine!"
Up onto the beach the Higgins Boats climb,
Dropping their ramps amid the incoming whine.
Out over the ramp the pride of the Corps
Roars in unison, "This island is mine forevermore!"
The bullets and shells find there marks.
Blood makes the black sand blacker.
Whole units are wiped from the roll call of men,
All that remains is the pride within.
For days on end they fight and die,
There is not a Marine who from death is shy.
Shot down once, twice, three times or more,
Onto and up this bloody beach they did pour.
Up that mountain they climbed,
Into the history books and forever in time.
Out over the land a Marine could see,
Dark dirty beaches and a bloody sea.
Through the horror of it all some did live to pay respects,
To those that fell on that dark dirty beach and bloody sea.
Here as in many other lands
The pride of the Marines made their stand.
The history books can tell you the feat of these men.
But listen close, brothers and sisters—to the pride within.
* * *
Author's bio: Nihil D. Benuche (Bulldog), PFC. USMC, 1955–59