by Cpl. Robert Lin Cook
Jan 1942-Sep 1945

The night was dark
there was no moon,
stars shown bright above.
The Southern Cross
hung in the sky
and clouds soared
far and nigh.

A whisper could
no louder be
than men of war
on a quiet sea.
No light did shine
above her decks,
her crew stood waiting:
What comes next?

At fire control their
breath was hushed,
they stood at ease
there was no rush.
They knew
the command 
would come
whenever and
the need to
shell the shore.

About them
in the old
troop ships
were many men
who did depend
on their fine skill
with guns of size.
That could lay down 
a field of fire and
clear the beach of
dread most dire.

At last there came
the awaited word
for which they
Were eager:
"Commence firing!"
sounded on the horn.
Their roar
from silence
was torn and
cleaved the night.
Not even a star
shown so bright,
'twas evidence 
of their might.
And carnage 
on the shore
was born.

Troops rejoiced
at the sound,
their paths were
less encumbered.
Those mighty shells
had done their jobs
when into the beach
they lumbered.
The enemy was
put to bay,
they gave an inch
and lost the day.
For that is how
fortunes go
when fighting hard
against the foe.

Sea soldiers are
a rugged lot,
they have a reputation.
They've fought in every
clime and place
to keep alive
our nation.
They're grateful
of the help they get from
city, town or station.
They always answer
to the call like
every generation.

*     *     *
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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The Night Was Dark