poems

The Blast on the Beach

3/1/12

He never knew what happened to the others, except the one leaning against the seawall with most of his face and chest gone.

Perhaps they survived the blast and moved on. There were three or four of them, moving along the beach together, shoving grenades into firing ports in the fortified seawall facing the beach.

The first time they tried that, the grenade was shoved back. The marine who was closest quickly scooped up the live grenade, pushed it back through the hole and jammed his rifle butt into the opening to prevent its return. The explosion inside the coconut-log wall testified to the effectiveness of the maneuver.

So they moved along, pressed close along the seawall, tossing in grenades and blocking the receiving port with a rifle butt. Each man leap-frogged ahead when his deposit exploded in the enemy pillbox.

He was crouched, ready to move ahead to another firing port, when one of the men behind moved past him on his right, between him and the water.

That’s when they discovered the beach was mined. There was no other explanation for the explosion.

When he finally was able to think, he saw the large hole in the sand. It reached from where he lay, almost to the water.

Later he realized he must have been almost sitting on it. The blast spread under him, catching the leg he was kneeling on, and the arm and hand holding the rifle beside the leg. He was thankful for the stock and heavy breach of his big Browning automatic rifle which took much of the blast.

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