We barrelled [barreled] back through the irrigation ditch, and the thorns ripped our
faces and hands. We got back to where the trucks were stopped and
started to run with the whole group to our right as we faced the trucks.
Just about that time a German tank cane around the house I had been
behind. The first 88 it fired hit the first truck and lifted it off the
ground. The second and third went into the second truck. I was running
next to Lt. Daley, who was looking back over his shoulder, and he said,
"he's zeroing in on us." The tank let an 88 go right at us. It whistled
over our heads and hit 100 yds. or so in front of us, and then another
and another. Then a whole Company of German soldiers came down from the
road we just left with their mauser rifles at port arms in their field
green uniform, and it became a foot race. Well, all we did in training
in the paratroops was run, run, run, and it certainly paid off for us
that day. We outran them and reassembled in a secluded area.
We started to move out again and someone saw a German machine[gun] nest
covering the road we had to cross. Lt. Quade signaled for myself and
Posados to follow him down the hedgerow on our side of the road. The
helmet I wore on the drop that was ripped off my head was defective to
the extent that the liner and steel helmet didn't mesh, and it made a
rattling noise. I took it off and laid it on the ground so that the
rattling wouldn't give our position away. Posados was coming up ten
yards behind me, so when he passed my helmet he picked it up and started
to pssst me to get my attention. Then he held it out towards me as
though I lost it and he found it. It was like a Max Senate Comedy - but
because of the gravity of the moment, the humor was lost.
Posados was a very nice, friendly kid who was of Mexican extraction, he
didn't have a complete command of the English language and sometimes it
was humorous, On one occasion back in North Carolina our very serious
platoon leader, a Lt. Victor Grabbe, asked who in the Platoon didn't
have leggings and Posados raised his hand and said, "I have none” with
the unintentional omission of addressing the Lt. as "I have none, Sir"
or "Lieutenant". Well, Lt. Grabbe put on his most severe scowl and
almost yelled "you have none what!!??" Posados responded with "I have
none leggings," which really fractured the platoon.
We were just about across the road from where the machinegun was when a
German soldier walked over toward where I was kneeling and looked
directly over my head toward where the trucks had been blown up. The
road was about two feet higher than the field we were in, so he was
looking out directly over me through a hedgerow, and I had my rifle
aimed at his stomach. I could see his face as plain as day. He was about
two feet from me, and why he never lowered his eyes toward me I'll never
know. I could swear I was in his peripheral vision. Maybe the lack of
the helmet left me undetected. He turned and walked across the road.
Quade motioned for me to throw a grenade. All our fragmentation grenades
were secured with adhesive tape to prevent the actuating arm from
snapping up if the pin was somehow dislodged with the Impact of the
jump. Well, it seemed like an eternity trying to find an end to unwrap
the tape. Finally, I got the tape off and signaled to Lt. Quade that I
wasn't sure just where the emplacement was. He had seen it, so I let him
toss the grenade. It wasn't thrown that far, so it made some noise. The
main body jumped across the road, and Quade and I started running back
to the corner where they crossed. Someone got on our side of the road in
a wooded area and was firing right at us with a rifle, and the bullets
were passing between us as we ran. Quade got across the road, and I was
the last to get on the road, and got my feet entangled in some
communication wire laying on top of the road. Thank God I had an M-1,
because I emptied a clip in the direction of the woods while I untangled
myself and pinned down or hit whoever was firing at me.
Finally we stopped running and reassembled. Lt. Quade asked if someone
else wanted to take a turn at the 1st Scout position. There were a lot
of troopers who weren't with their own officers, and were just content
to stay in the middle of the group and follow the crowd. His looking for
a 1st Scout was directed towards them, but one of our own stood up and
said he'd take the point. He was Dan [Daniel F.] Koziel from “I"
Company. He was older than most of us and we called him "Pappy." A few
minutes before somehow he salvaged a bottle of German wine from one of
the camouflaged trucks. It had a very long neck and no shoulders. He
pulled the cork and gave me a swig. It really tasted good, more for
sustenance than pleasure.
We started out with Pappy as 1st Scout, and could not have walked more
than two or three hedge rows when three Germans came out of the woods
surrendering. One had a rife in his up stretched hands, arid brought it
down and killed Pappy Instantly.
We immediately dispatched the three to Valhalla. We laid Trooper Koziel
with his arms crossed on a sort of berm -a mound between two fields. I
took his trench knife to replace the one I lost on the jump, and we said
a prayer; then we moved on. My friend, Jack Downee [probably Jack M.
Downey], brought a picture of Koziel's grave marker in Normandy. It
DANIEL F. KOZIEL
Tec 5 508 PRCHT INF REGT
Wisconsin June 14, 1944
The June 14 is erroneous. Dan was killed about June 8th, but it seems
they take the time of death at the date the Grave Registration Officer
records the finding of the remains.