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PFC LAKES ... INVASION OF FRANCE

Pfc Lakes, OSSO Man,
Describes His Part in In-
vasion of France

   XENIA [Ohio] -- Pfc Carl "Ducky" Lakes, former O. S. and S. O. Home athlete, among Paratroopers who landed in France on D-Day, is now in a hospital in England after being wounded in the leg by a shell fragment and has been awarded the Purple Heart.
   Lakes, who won letters in football, basketball, and track at OSSO [Ohio Soldiers & Sailors Orphans Home] and enlisted in the Army following graduation from high school in 1942, gave a vivid account in a recent letter of his particular role on invasion day after he bailed out of a plane with 20 other 'chutists all "itching for a fight."
   "My chute popped open right on time and I saw enemy tracer fire reaching for me, so I slipped away from it and hit the ground with a dull thud.  Much to my surprise I was all alone and right away it made me terribly afraid.  You see, we had all agreed to help one another out of our harnesses.
   "I pulled myself over into the nearest hedgerow ... pulled out my knife and laid it by my side and started taking my harness off.  When I got out I looked around and about 50 yards away I saw another parachute hanging on a tree, so I started toward it, hunting companionship more than  anything else.  I loaded my gun although I couldn't use it unless it was to save my life --- those were the orders.  I pulled a hand grenade out of my pocket and put my knife between my teeth and away I went, slow ---very slow.
   "I saw someone standing behind a tree so I called softly the password, but I didn't get an answer.  Then I crept a little closer, thinking maybe he didn't hear me.  Again I called the password, but I still got no answer.  By that time I decided maybe they were Jerries --- and a good thing I did --- because they were.
   "I ducked into a ditch and waited.  I decided to let them make the first move.  While lying there in the tall grass I heard talking.  I recognized it as German and I guessed there were about six or eight.

   "After a while I noticed two people by the tree and then one of them started crawling toward me.  I waited tensely, grasping my knife, prepared to 'get him' if he wanted [sic] too close to me.  He lost his nerve when he was only a few yards from me . . . jumped up and ran like a scared rabbit.
   "After a short while I heard someone grunt and - a rifle bolt click, so I jammed myself down into the ditch as much as possible and then he fired.  I felt dirt splash into my eyes and my helmet was ringing like a church bell.  That was the closest I came to not coming back.
     That guy made me mad to the point where I grabbed my grenade and yanked the tape off and pulled the pin and heaved it over the embankment where the 'Heinie' was but the thing didn't go off.  I guess I didn't get the tape all the way off or something.  When I threw it I could hear the Krauts all yelling.
   "About five minutes later I threw another grenade and it went right where I wanted.  I must have gotten a couple with that baby. I decided it was time to get out of that part the woods, so I got my 'tank buster' grenade out.  I cut my field pack off with my knife, preparing to make a run for it at any cost.  Up I jumped, throwing the grenade at the same time.  I saw the grenade light right at the feet of the two standing by the tree.  I ran down the ditch as fast as I could go, looking for an opening.  I found one finally and I dove through it, hardly stopping to make the turn.
   "I crawled into another hedgerow and saw figures scurrying around.  I got down low...trying to make out their outlines.  I saw they were parachutists by the large bulging pockets we had to cram our equipment into.  I called the password and got the right answer --- at last, a real live American.  I could have kissed that guy.
   "The next day was a nightmare and all that were with us thought themselves very lucky to be alive at the close of it.  We were all pinned down in a narrow gulch and it seemed everybody that stepped out got shot.  Things turned out alright for me in the end, and everything seems to be okay now.  But I'm not looking for souvenirs---too many booby traps.  I'll be content just to come back."

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