“A TRIBUTE TO ALL AIRBORNE MEN”
There is a story that must be told
A tale that shall never, ever grow old
Of the men who jumped into Normandy, France
Who, knowing the odds, still took the chance.
I am not a poet, never claimed to be
But something deep inside of me
Compels me to tell of these men, so brave
So many torn apart, so many lying in their grave.
There is so much that I must say
About the happenings on that fateful day
June 6, 1944 to be exact
When years of training became actual fact.
It was a quiet, serene, moonless night
Scattered here and there a lonely light
One dated not think of what lay ahead
Not allowing ourselves to think that we might soon be dead.
When suddenly the quiet was shattered by a roaring noise
And the planes scattered about the field like so many toys
Began to breathe with a sputter and a whine
And slowly lumbered up to the take off line.
A familiar phrase was whispered on down
Load on [the] planes, we’re going to town
So here and there a hasty farewell
And into the seats for our date with Hell.
A last puff on cigarettes, a last smoke
And some found time to tell a feeble joke
For we were afraid, make no mistake
We sensed what was coming, what we’d have to take.
Soaring over England, over valley, over hill
This ride was for real, more than just a thrill
We knew that we were going to kill
We knew that soon many hearts would be still.
Then the channel was past and gone
And still our planes roared on and on
And the enemy, waiting, once so bold
Must have felt the blood in their veins grow cold.
For on we came, thousands strong
The motors still singing their mighty song
And suddenly the skies were filled with flak
They tried so hard to hurl us back.
Then “Stand up”, “Hook up”, ready to jump
And in each man’s throat, a peculiar lump
The green light flashed, the plane gave a lunge
And into the void we began to plunge.
How can any man describe a
When each man wonders why his heart doesn’t stop
Your body snaps, twists, contorts through the air
And you pray to your Father that you chute doesn’t tear.
Then the opening shock and the blinding pain
And tense, tight, tortured muscles relax again
And you look above and say a silent prayer
To the One that is always there.
Yes, it was all there this time too
That familiar feeling, that drop though the blue
But something strange was also there
Something that ripped and screamed through the air.
It’s then that you feel so very alone
And silently say goodbye to the loved ones at home
You know they are waiting down there in the black
As slowly your chute drifts down through the flak.
Then that terrible smash into the ground
Knowing that the Jerries are all around
You rant, you struggle, you squirm, you rage
To escape from the harness that feels like a cage.
And with a gasp, a sigh, and a breathless sob
You suddenly realize that you’ve accomplished the job
How the earth feels so good, so warm and so safe
But still those guns continued to strafe.
Now, trooper, it’s time to think
You can’t see much, it’s black as ink
And down your neck, a hot fetid breath
A bad race against the stranger called “Death”.
Now there is something else to do
Seek out your buddies, those that came through
Every second, every minute counts
With the passing time, the danger mounts.
Wriggle, crawl, squirm and creep
And all you can think of is a hole that’s deep
Every so often a guttural shout
The enemy desperately seeking us out.
Your eyes strain and search the ground
And you don’t dare breathe or utter a sound
When suddenly, a movement ahead
And you aim your rifle at an indistinct head.
You whisper your password, softly, but clear
And the answer comes back, a buddy is near
It’s then that you share one of life’s greatest joys
As one by one, you meet the other boys.
Knowing that you have someone near,
To overcome this strange feeling, called fear
And gazing at each familiar face
Wondering who would finish the race.
Of the following days, no need to write
Fighting morning, noon and night
No let down, no ease, no respite
No water to drink, no food to bite.
We had jumped into an SS nest
Fought against Hitler’s very best
Yet we always knew that we would win this fight
For we were fighting for justice and right.
Yes, we like to think that we more than evened the score
For those amongst us who had gone before
We made the enemy pay and pay
As witness the fields where German bodies lay.
So many of us were left behind
But still amongst us it is hard to find
Real pity for those of us who are gone
They never really died; they shall live on and on.
And when this war is many years past
Their deeds and their valor shall always last
So don’t weep for them, but share this thought
That the joys they knew could never be bought.
When the time came, they gave all they had
And God took the good, he took the bad
He took their torn, worn, bleeding frames
And made them whole, dispelled their pains.
But for those of us that are left today
We know that there is still another fray
When it will end we don’t know
Until then, “Geronimo”.
- . - . - . - . - . - .
Formerly Staff Sgt. Ray Pateracki
HQ’s Company, 1st Bn.
508th Parachute Infantry Regiment
82nd Airborne Division
Written: August 1944