Sky is loosing
its inky black,
the sun is but
a thought.
The sergeant looks
over the bow
and sees the
outline of an island.
The beach is not 
yet clear,
churning props
thrust ahead
defying every wave.
A thousand yards
to travel and then?

Above their heads
a sound they
have not yet heard,
its rushing passage
leaves no doubt
of its intent.
The engine drops
its RPM and
touches bottom sand.
Troops know the sign
from a dozen landings
and are poised
to spill over ramp,
which has dropped
suddenly to the
waiting surf.

Men surge forward
through the gap
into water that
is not warm,
it chills them through
their leggings
and soaks their 
 rugged shoes.
But they are not
aware of this;
there is too much 
of which to think.

The shelling
of the shore
has ceased,
beach comes alive 
with flashes of fire.
A rain of projectiles
large and small,
a buddy falls
in front of you;
you stumble over 
his fallen body
and carry on
forward movement.

You have no other choice,
the water has
changed its depth,
you are in
with rifle held
above your head.
You move slowly
through the brine,
you see and hear
the slaughter
that abounds
around your
shaking body.

Machinegun fire 
comes from the right,
its tracers drawing nigh; 
you drop to chin depth,
rifle at the level.
The beach is 
coming slowly,
you have a way to go.
Depth becomes
more shallow
as you take care
to keep alive.
Around you
are buddies,
some floating in surf,
their stillness can 
only mean
they have left
this stinking earth.

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Wounded and dead being brought ashore at Tarawa