Fear is your drum major,
he leads you where you have never gone before,
to places your never want to revisit.
He turns your blood to ice and mind to horror,
your mouth, so parched, no water can quench,
never before have you smelled such a stench.
Dead and dying lie all about, some for days,
so grotesque, in positions you will never forget.
You are in the company of thousands of brothers
but your are so all alone with your thoughts:
your fear of dying, or wounds so severe
that even worse than death, you suffer till the end.
Prayers pour forth, in silence, just unspoken words,
thoughts of home and, my God, what am I doing here?
Days turn into nights but the battles never end,
wound me or kill me, I can’t stand much more of this.
And then, like a rainbow, the battle comes to an end,
at last, a hot meal, a change of skivvies, and socks.
A chance to check and see who is left and who is not,
to stand and stare in silence at the bodies in the sand
with helmet and rifle as witness to their death.
But this is only the first; you know the second will be worse
for now you have tasted fear you did not know before.
For now it is part of you and will never go away
but thank you, God, for sparing me this day
never again will I doubt your mysterious ways.
* * *
The author: GnySgt Dave D'Arche, WW II, saw action on Eniwetok, Parry Islands, Engebi, Guam. Joined at 17, spent 20 months in the Pacific.