by Cpl. Robert Lin Cook
Jan 1942-Sep 1945

The order comes
from down the line
and quickly passes on.
We're hunkered down
in our own holes,
 feeling scared
not feeling bold.

Of all the words
used in command
there are two that
chill my sweat.
I hear them still,
I can't forget:
"Fix bayonets!"

The morning light
is barely born,
mist is still arising
when someone in
the jungle deep
prepares for our
surprise.

A distant bugle
strange to us
sounds forth
in clarion call
to let us know
their intent:
to kill us
one and all.

It's tough enough
to face a man some
thirty yards apart,
alookin' down a rifle
aimed at his beatin' heart.
But when you look
him in the eye
and fend him
left or right,
there is a scary feeling as
you know you've got to fight.

You know it's 
him or you
right then,
there ain't time
to think.
For one of you
is gonna die
within an eyeball's blink.

For most of us
who fought the war
times like those
were rare.
Thank God for
all his goodness,
my precious life
was spared.

So when I see movies
and hear those words again,
the chilling of the moment
is still locked well within.

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

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Fix Bayonets
 The Psychology of the Bayonet

Excerpt: "The sharpened spade is a more handy and many-sided weapon; not only can it be used for jabbing a man under the chin, but it has greater weight; and if one hits between the neck and shoulder it easily cleaves as far down as the chest. The bayonet frequently jams on the thrust and then a man has to kick hard on the other fellow's belly to pull it out again; and in the interval he may easily get one himself. And what's more the blade often gets broken off."