THE SUPREME SACRIFICE
By E. P. Haynie, Jr.
Co. B 273rd Inf.
Bob and I grew up
together in a small mining town in Fayette County, West Virginia. Both
of our fathers were underground miners. Times were hard in the
30's, but our parents made the best of what we had. They taught us
values that fashioned our lives as we both entered the Army at the tender age
of 18. I never knew that fate would bring us together in France in 1944,
under very differing circumstances.
volunteering for transfer to the Infantry while in England, I made my
way through the maze of Repple Deps (Replacement Depots). and arrived
somewhere near Paris, shortly after it's liberation from the Nazi's. I
was amazed and delighted when a soldier I ran into turned out to be Bob, my
boyhood friend. Bob had landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day and had
both legs cut up with machine gun bullets. After a stay in a hospital
in England he was sent back to his Company where he was again wounded.
Now, he was going home.
One morning, I left my
pup tent and stopped by Bob's tent to wake him so he could get in the
breakfast line. I touched his foot and he jumped up like he was scared
to death, ripping the tent pegs out of the ground. "Don;t ever
touch me", he said. "I might hurt you": In the
breakfast line, everyone had their mess kits strung on a handle, and Bob
nervously stood in the line. When he moved left a little bit, a young
Lt. came up and gave him a shove and told him to keep the line straight.
Bob said nothing, but violently swung his complete mess kit and struck the Lt.
on the side of his face. Turns out, Bob had severe psychological
problems, evidently caused by his lengthy time in combat.
The next time I saw Bob,
I had been home about 5 years I was driving through town. When I
slowed down for a bus that was loading, I looked up and there was Bob,
sitting on the bus. I had no chance to speak to him, but shortly after
he came in to my place of business, a mining company store, of which I was
store manager. He was dressed immaculately and flashed a Hollywood
smile when he shook my hand. " I'm working for the Lord"
said Bob, explaining that he was helping a traveling Minister hold services in
a Camp Meeting
setting. Bob disappeared again for a
few years. One day, his younger brother came by and I inquired about
Bob. Bob had died under strange circumstances. He had been
arrested by the City Police and charged with taking a 15 year old girl across
state lines for immoral purposes. Unable to bear the shame attached to
his actions, he had hung himself in his jail cell, using a bed sheet.
Of course, the
public rightly passed their judgment on Bob's actions, but I feel that
he had paid the Supreme Penalty for his actions on D-Day, Omaha Beach.
It just took 14 years for his body to die. His spirit died years ago
when he waded through the bloody waters of the English Channel.