Airborne On D-Day in the air
Holy shit, what was that?!
We’re hit, we’re hit!
Hold that heading!
Red light red light-Get ready-Everyone up!
Check equipment – Green light
Go go go!
Jimbo was hit while still in the plane. Crappie went out before me as I was sucked along by the force of the line in front and behind me.
I screamed as the plane exploded just as I cleared the door.
I felt the terror growing and churning in the pit of my stomach, it worked it’s way up through my chest and throat then hit my brain like a flash of lightning. Shrapnel and bright shells blasted all around me and finally, I saw the right engine on fire torn loose from it’s wing with a terrific shock wave – whoomp!
A tremendous whirring sound added to the cacophony of air, wind, explosions and… Oh my God… the right propeller was coming straight at me, then Woosh! It was gone.
Pow! My chute opened… oh God- I’m alive, I’m alive I thought, at least for the moment.
“Holy Mary Mother of God, Blessed Art Thou among women and…”
Funny how that is, in addition to the M1 garrand in my mitts, I was still holding the rosary beads my mother had pressed into my hand before leaving home. “Johnny, you remember to say a prayer, ask The Holy Mother to protect you” yeah sure momma, I’ll remember.
“Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus...”
The whole time out from loading up to jump run I was thinking, of the past, growing up always wanting to be the hero of the day. Watching the greats playing baseball, the Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers; Ty Cobb, Lou Gerig and the all time best of the best- The Babe… Babe Ruth. Anyone of them, whack one swing and it’s gone. Boy what I wouldn’t give to be out in those grandstand bleachers now. Warm sun blasting down on my shoulders, Stan and Walt behind me and Grace right there next to me with her cute little tush following her cheering legs up and down. “Hit another one Babe”, she yelled. Then, “Aww come on Ump, that was no strike.” Other than her voluptuous curves and obvious femininity, why Grace was just like one of us guys. She loved baseball.
That was then and this… Why this is now I thought. I’ve traded a bleacher seat for an Airborne seat, instead of a ticket to the game I got a ticket and maybe a one way ticket at that, to the biggest if not greatest, show on Earth. So how come I’m not cheering now? In fact no one was cheering or saying much of anything. The seats were hard and uncomfortable, no box seats on this baby. “Bottom’s Up” was the name of our “lady” that night, the C-47 cargo plane outfitted for Rangers. Carrying all thirty of us paratroopers to the “ballpark” tonight just inland some twenty-five miles or so from the coming action on the Normandy beaches.
June 6, 1944 D-Day Normandy, Francais
(to be continued… for some but not all)