Our greatest fear, since we flew in unarmored planes
which could cannot fight back, was that of being intercepted by enemy
fighter planes, all our fears were groundless. Our first evidence of
enemy opposition came as we passed over and between two large islands
just eighteen minutes from our destination. It came in the form of flak
from anti-aircraft batteries but did no damage. As I looked around at
the men in the dim light, I remember thinking how like the tenseness
was to that which fastens upon a football team just before kick-off
“Stand up! Get Ready! Check your ’chutes! Stand by the door!”
Even that electrifying order did not break the tension. So, I shouted,
“Is everybody Happy,” ala Ted Lewis. That did the trick. A great laugh
broke out on the ship and everyone relaxed.
Then came the order to open
the door. The green light was on. Then I was shouting “Geronimo” in
my turn. Tracer bullets from enemy ground batteries had been hunting
us just as the door was opened, and I got a few through my parachute
on the way down. (I know now how it feels to be a “bird on a limb” while
same is being shot at. It’s no fun!)
Now, the equipment bundles I mentioned
a while ago are covered with a luminous preparation which makes them
visible from the air, and my job was to locate those bundles and maneuver
my landing so as to be in the midst of them. Well, what with being a
bit upset by the tracer bullets through my ’chute and looking for the
bundles, I did not see the tree until I was too close to veer away from
it. So, I crashed right through it to the ground, breaking my leg on
the way down.
I could not get to my knife to cut myself
loose from my chute. Fortunately, I could reach my medicine kit, and
I gave myself a full shot of morphine to kill the pain. This was about
1:30. Soon, I heard someone approaching. I called, “Flash!" which was
the challenge for our men to give the watchword. One of our fellows
said, “Is that you, Tex?” I’ve heard a lot of welcome sounds in my life,
but none more heart-warming than those!
“Come and cut me out of this
’chute. My leg is broken,” I said to him. In short order three other
fellows joined us. I told them to dig in and , I would keep them covered.
They partly covered me with my ’chute and made me as comfortable as
they could. Luckily, I was lying in a slight indenture in the ground
which partly hid my body.
MY FIRST JERRY
The boys quickly dug their
fox-holes and I told them to keep out of sight and I would keep watch.
Nothing happened until about 8:00 A. M. I remember thinking that it
would be fun to call out, “Three O’clock, and all is well!" Just before
I did, however, I saw a soldier approaching. I thought he was a Jerry
by the shape of his helmet, but couldn’t be positive. When he came within
a few yards of me and turned toward the boy’s foxholes, I called, “Flash!”
He wheeled around and I knew he was a Jerry. My Forty-five dropped him
in his tracks. One of the boys crawled over to see what was cookin’
and we waited tensely for other Jerries; but they did not come.
night wore on. We could hear firing but it was some distance from our
position. Then, at 6:00 A.M. a
German officer came into my line of vision.