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SOARING WINGS


On soaring wings our transports ride,
Below the lightless country side,
A thin cold moon, light clouds, dark sky,
Tonight we live, we fight and die.

The planes roar on. Not far ahead
Bursts of flak, flame flowers spread.
Our plane is rocking, rising, falling.
Short miles to go, seconds crawling.

"Ack Ack" behind, drop zone here and now
Stand in the door," ready, we're there,
"Go,"... we're out, we're coming down.
"Planes goodbye!" Here comes the ground.

We're down and armed. The enemy is
Everywhere ... and in the sky
Our transports gone into the night.
We re alone and now the fight.

Staccato as machine guns bark,
Rifles cracking in the dark.
Forward! Double! Hit the ground!
The night around, a holocaust of sound.


A figure rises, charges and my rifle
Swings, now right, now left, up a trifle,
My finger close gently on the trigger,
I see Death touch him ... icy fingers!

A sudden flash of flaming hell,
A blast of Death, a bursting shell'
The roar of more, as raining down,
They bracket ever inch of ground.

"Crouch down!" "Lie flat! "Dig in!" "Dig in!"
I find I'm screaming o'er the din,
The firing 'round me dwindles, dies,
Beneath those deathly flaming skies.

flash of pain across my back,
A shrapnel splinter ... bloody track
Warmly trickling down my thigh -
A black-red puddle where I lie,

And to the left, the front, the fight -
One light flickers, stabbing white
The shells, Praise God, have ceased to fall;
I see stabbing lights, that's all.


Snaking forward, here they comeÖ
Rushing, firing as they run -
And in my hands, my riles hot,
Aim and fire - "Get that dark blot".

But whatís the use? Iím alone;
No holding fire but my own.
They know I cannot hold them long,
They come more boldly, coming strong.

Now the end, the time to die;
My five grenades are ready.
I lie so I can throw them, one by one
When they come too close to gun.

Now they're here, and I throw.
Three men die by this last blow.
Two are they who come too nigh.-
The third, I know, is I.

For I am weak, my aim is slow -
My blood and strength, together flow,
One second now, and then, and then -
This is it, this is the end.

 
by Sgt James H. Ellifrit, Company C
Killed In Action, Normandy, June 1944
 
 

This poem appeared first in the effects of George Gurwell (1/Lt., Hq Hq) who died in March 2004.  He had not known the name of the author but did know he was a Sergeant in one of the line companies and that he had died in Normandy.  Later, a beautifully printed copy (see images above) of the same poem was found in the effects of James Blue (Pfc, Co A) who died in May 2004.  He identified Ellifrit as the author.

 

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