Untold Horrors of War

Tarawa Atoll
20–23 November 1943
76 Hours of Hell

Where does one begin, when you decide to re-construct a (life) story about someone? A story about this someone, whom you idealized, despised, adored and hated all within the duration of one heart-beat. With so many emotions, so many special episodes, some remembered others forgotten. Wonderful adventures, misadventures, moments of love and tenderness, times of cruelty and madness, special moments stolen away by an overwhelming tragedy.  My Father was a troubled man and an abusive alcoholic.  This sadly trumped all his other great qualities as a Son, a Father, a Husband, a Provider and a Retired U.S. Marine.

As a child, the writer in his own mind created elaborate stories about the War (WW II) Adventures of his Hero, his Father. When one is young, and is sheltered from horrid images and the captions that accompany them, you find that you have a tendency to fashion your own reflections of War.

The Invading visions of death and mayhem, the mind held captive. All of these and of course those forever hidden, culminate into, not just the history of one life, but many stories of many lives. Those many other people left to carry the lingering burdens at the passing of this someone.

A writer of such a story is usually tasked with delivering facts with limited speculation. He (she) should take into consideration the many variables that might influence or may have influenced past or present perceptions. Great care should be taken, as to not skew the readers own memories (if any) nor to implant new un-wanted ones. The terms usually and, should, are used to forewarn the reader. The writer has chosen not to adhere to these standards. No consideration is given to any for-gone conclusions the reader may have.

And so… The following short stories may be a bit imagined and overstated, but they are fictional stories without restrictions or overtures. Stories to inspire and stimulate, to strengthen understanding and compassion and to bring comfort and healing where there may have been none.
Red Beach

The Short Straw
Whitie was running full out, headed for the machine gun position on the far end of the beach. He had gotten the short straw on the draw for taking more ammo to the machine gun-crew. Whitie knew he had been set up on the draw; after all he was the most junior guy in the Company. That didn’t matter now; he had to concentrate on keeping his footing as he stumbled across the beach filled with debris and the bodies of fallen Marines. Over his shoulders were bandoleers of 30 caliber ammunition. In his left hand was a box of the same ammo, and his M1-Carbine balanced in his right. A shell exploded off to his left nearly knocking him off his feet, regaining his stride, he continued on. Although he was focused on the Marines in the shell crater about a hundred yards away, he caught a glimpse of something from the corner of his eye. Directing his gaze in the direction of the movement, he quickly realized it was a man. A Japanese Soldier!

The Soldier was running low to the ground using the brush as cover. Whitie shifted his weight on his right foot and turned slightly toward his new destination. He knew he had to intercept this Jap’ Soldier. Reaching deep inside, he turned on the steam. But, as he moved forward he was slowed by the soft sand. His legs began to feel like wet noodles and his feet sank deeper with each stride. Suddenly the Jap’ broke from his cover and headed straight for the Marines, now just twenty yards from Whitie. The Jap’ was flanking the Marines, so they couldn’t see or hear him as he came screaming toward them. Whitie could now see the large satchel-charge of explosives strapped to his chest. This Jap’ was on a Kamikaze mission. Without taking time to aim, Whitie opened fire, squeezing the trigger. The Carbine bucked in his hand as the rounds smacked into the sand, crossing the path of the enemy. Whitie stumbled, crashing face first into the sand behind one of the Marines. Almost simultaneously, the startled Marine, yelled “What the hell!” making eye contact with Whitie as the mortally wounded Japanese Soldier, just a few yards away, exploded into a thousand pieces.

Seconds later, the machine gunners were slapping their savior on the back.

 “Thanks Mack!” the first Marine shouted.  The other, reaching for the ammo-can asked, “What’s your name Marine?”

“Elmer” was the reply, “But everybody calls me Whitie.”

“Well Whitie, thanks for saving our necks and for the ammo.

You okay there?” Asked the first Marine, noticing blood on Whitie’s left shin and the torn pant leg.

“Yea, just a scratch.”  Whitie replied, dismissing it. “Okay, if you guys are set, I’ll head back. Watch your right flank from now on.”

Whitie took a quick swig of water before he bolted off, back down the beach.

This is just one of many short stories or episodes in this War Series written or in work by the writer. 
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