I joined the Third Division in Southern France about Feb 4th, 1945 as a replacement together with three other GI 's. We were assigned to L Company, 30th Infantry Regiment.
When we arrived it was about 5 o'clock at night and there was snow on the ground and it was cold. The CO (Commanding Officer) of the company gave us a speech how this Division was in a lot of battles and had a great record. Really at this time the other replacements and myself didn't care about hearing a speech because we were soon going to the front lines and were concerned about our lives.
One of the Sergeants named Bryant, came an took the four of us and we were buddied up with different guys who had already been on the front lines. I noticed the sergeant did not talk to much to us and also the men we are assigned too, were not that talkative. Later I found out why, because you really do not want to get to close to a person if something should happen to them.
After being with the company for a while you finally get to know the people that are in it. There were three sergeants that I got to know. They were named Bryant, Smith and Rodrigues. These three sergeants were on the lines for quite a while. When we were moving from town to town or crossing a river or going into the Siegfried Line, you always felt that with these guys, somehow everything would be okay.
In fact I got to be very close to Sergeant Smith that I became his runner. He always said to me that he would take care of me. As we moved through Germany one day, we had gone through this town and were headed up a hill to a wooded area. Everything was going good and when we got to the top of the hill on the outside of the woods all of sudden we heard this howling sound in the distance. It got louder and louder as it got closer. The sergeants were yelling: "Get into the woods, get into the woods". The sound of the shells was real scary and they hit one after another, a total of six shells. They kept coming and coming and I thought they would never stop. They were called "Screaming Mimi's". It's a mortar with six tubes and they fire all a once. The sound is really a demoralizer.
When the shelling stopped and you could hear the calls for the medics, to help the wound GI 's. As I got up and started to walk I saw three bodies piled on top of each other and they were burning. Two of the bodies were Sergeant Smith's and Bryant's. I stared to walk further, and there was another body that was blown apart and it was Sergeant Rodrigues, the only way we knew was because he a different GI jacket then the rest of us. His machine gun was also laying next to body.
Our outfit was totally demoralized. Without these men, how would we going to be ok. To this day, when they play the National Anthem, or they show anything about our service men, I go back to the day with tears in my eyes. May their souls rest in peace.
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