Suddenly you're aware
you have reached the
hard-packed beach.
Throwing yourself 
down,
you hug the earth
to catch your breath
and peer around.
As the battle rages
from every port and chink,
your courage
has not left you.

You muster it somehow
as you crawl forward
to find some safety
beside a shattered wall.
Sounds around you
are deafening,
screams the worst of all.
You see the carnage
happening,
forever you'll recall.

You gain presence
of your mind,
you now know
your intent.
Forgotten is your 
frozen fear,
knowing what
you must do.
The rifle you
 have nursed ashore
feels strong within 
your grasp.

The flashes that you
first observed
continue to
burst forth.
The static sound
is uppermost
in your mind,
the pack that
hindered
your advance
you shed from
off you back.
And turn your 
attention to
the job that 
is at hand.

*     *     *
The author: Robert Lin Cook served with Regimental Weapons Co. (2d-2d) from 1942–44, at Guadalcanal and Tarawa during a 33-month overseas tour.

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