company S-2 section was returning from a reconnaissance patrol
somewhere in Belgium.
Jim Rankin and
those with him had walked a long way in heavy snow. They were
glad to see a G.I, s. truck going their way towards regimental
camp. They waved the truck to a stop and learned that the 508th
graves registration officer was using the truck to pick up
bodies for burial.
The officer said,
"if you guys don't mind sharing the space with a few stiffs, hop
We were just glad
to get a ride, even with dead men.
The discussion of
the men while riding with the dead went something like this:
"I think that the
graves officer has about the worse job in the whole regiment, I
wonder how he got that assignment? He probably goofed leading
the living, so they put him to burying the dead.
HEY, look up
ahead, looks like a bunch of fresh troops at the crossroads."
Some jerry, from
his observation post, also must have seen the troops bunched
together at the crossroads and phoned in the co-ordinates to his
artillery crew. Several shells soon whistled over the truck and
landed among the new G.I, s.
One of the men in
the truck said, "more bodies for the graves registration
officer, and more work for the medic's."
The truck stopped
and Jim Rankin and the others helped with the wounded. After one
man who had lost a leg was loaded on to the truck, the injured
soldier asked Jim Rankin to find his leg. Jim looked around and
found a severed leg and handed it to the soldier. The soldier
looked at the leg and said, "this isn't my leg." and handed it
back to Jim.
Jim took the leg,
laid it down and looked until he found another severed leg, and
presented it to the soldier.
The soldier smiled
and said, thanks, "this one is mine."