The Fight for the Coast

by Anthony Cantini

"Tyler, Tyler! Wake up! You have a train to catch," said his aunt. Tyler was already beginning to regret signing up to go war but it was too late, because he already took basic training. His aunt was not too worried to see him go which made Tyler feel uneasy. Tyler got his uniform on and got in his aunt`s car and thought, "Why am I going to do this? My aunt needs me to take care of her."

They arrived at the train station 20 minutes later where it was crowded and he said to his aunt, "I hope I`ll make it back to see you ." "Now don't talk like that! I'm sure you'll make it back, Tyler," said his aunt. Then Tyler boarded the train without another word and it started up and it took off into the horizon.

The train's destination was the state of Washington where he got his gear and his assignment. He met his division, the 81st Airborne, and its leader, Sgt. Timothy Bell. Then they took a ship to Britain where they got onto planes and flew to France.

The fog was dense since dawn had only just appeared. The men were cleaning their rifles and yawning before they would either die or live to tell the tale of the bloody ending. The trumpets blew and they rose to walk their last many steps. They did not know that their friends would die, in fact, they didn't know if they would die. After walking many miles, a man named Private Tyler Keegan said "I have walked many miles and a German has not attacked." A man marching next to him said, "Shut up will you? That means we might not have to fight."

Just as he said that, a shot rang out and the man in front of Tyler fell bleeding from his neck. Tyler turned to see a division of Germans in the tree line firing at them. By the time Keegan loaded his M1 Garand, 12 more men had fallen dead. Then he raised his gun and fired back at a German soldier, shooting him through the chest. After about twenty minutes, the last enemy fell. Tyler realized that this skirmish left 29 Americans dead. The men searched their enemies' bodies and found a battle plan for an attack that would take place in Holland, two weeks from that day. The soldier that had found it said, "This plan is an invasion that will take place in a small coastal town that has a strong anti-aircraft gun." Then Keegan said, "That will cut off our supplies and our escape." So Sgt. Bell said, "Then we don't let them take the village do we?" Keegan made a sound of disbelief and moved uncomfortably to the back of the line. Sgt. Bell barked, "Make camp, men! We will leave at dawn to march to the town."

The next morning at four, the men were woken up and ordered to pack camp. The grumpy Sgt. Bell came cussing past Keegan's almost packed tent. He looked at Keegan, said "Hurry!" in a rude way, and walked away. Keegan finished packing and cleaned his rifle and sat down.

The 81st Airborne started marching north and the morning progressed with no shouting or moaning, probably because captain would shoot a man down on the spot if he complained. They stopped briefly at a pond to refill their canteens and wash their hands. The men walked another 4 miles before a man spoke. The man asked the sergeant, "Sir, why are you so mad?" Keegan made a fake cough and the man looked at him. Keegan said sharply, "Shut up! Do you want to live?" "Shut it Keegan!" said Sgt. Bell, "I will not answer that soldier." They came to a crossroad and Sgt. Bell said, "Can anyone speak French?" A short corpsman said, "I can! If you are looking for west Holland, go right." Half a mile later, a shot rang out and the corpsman fell bleeding from his arm.

He swore and pointed to the tree line were a division of Italians were shooting at them with MP40 machine guns. "I guess they didn't like you telling us that," said Keegan. Then he raised his rifle, looked down the sights and pulled the trigger. All he saw was blood and the enemy clutched his head and fell. After ten minutes of battle, it was over leaving 12 Americans dead and 4 injured.

They made camp up the road in a small field. While Tyler was making his bed, a man asked him, "Aren't you tired of all these small raids?" Tyler did not answer and just fell asleep and then woke to the expected cussing.

This day Sgt. Bell seemed almost happy, but some man said it was probably because someone made some good coffee. The day went a lot smoother because it was more peaceful. As the sun was near setting, Keegan suddenly stopped and turned. The soldier to his left also stopped and asked what was wrong. Keegan simply said, "Sniper!"

"How do you know? Snipers aren't supposed to be seen," his fellow soldier questioned. Keegan ripped the Springfield '05 30-06 sniper rifle out of the man's hands and started scanning the area through the scope. As Sgt. Bell started to make his way over to Keegan, Keegan fired the rifle and a man fell dead from a tree.

Sgt. Bell just stood there amazed, but looked rather mad and Keegan gave the rifle back and walked to the body. When he found nothing useful, he took the bullet out of the dead snipers' gun and gave it to Sgt. Bell. Keegan said, "This shot was for you, Sergeant."

Keegan walked to the top of a hill, stood for a while, sighed, and started to make camp. He set up his tent and sleeping cot and sat down.

Tyler was sitting up in his cot when he drifted off to sleep.

He found himself on a train, but this train looked different than the ones of 1943. What he was doing here in the middle of a war, he thought. Then he asked a man "What am I doing here in the middle of a war?" Tyler said. The man said," Which war are you talking about?" "World War Two, of course," Tyler said. "World War Two?" the man exclaimed," that war has been over for over 60 years!" Puzzled, he stumbled in to a seat and thought; I must be in the future. He walked down the train until two girls offered him breakfast of an orange and some funny looking cookies, which they called "pop tarts." The girls also gave him a book to read and opened odd-looking folders that shined light and appeared to be the strangest-looking typewriters he had ever seen. Tyler heard a bang and he thought the train blew up but the people were acting like nothing happened. Then he heard it again and it became blurry and the people disappeared. He woke to a mortar that blew up ten feet from him.

Keegan grabbed his tent and bag and shoved his tent inside his bag and jumped just in time. Sgt. Bell was shooting at the Nazis with his Thompson M1 machine gun and cussing at Keegan to get over there. "Keegan," he said, "Why didn't you warn us about the mortars?" "It doesn't work like that, Sarge, they have to be looking at us when I`m awake. That is when I sense that they are there." Sgt. Bell cussed some more and went back to shooting. The battle lasted another hour before the Nazis retreated.

Keegan said nothing as they walked for the next three days. All the men were very quiet and it was almost eerie. They marched on until they saw the town that was indicated on the enemy's battle plan. The men were still rather quiet but happy they reached their destination. They found the town to be uninhabited and the men started to relax, but the thing they all dreaded happened. Suddenly, Tyler Keegan stopped and yelled, "Get down!"

Suddenly, Tyler Keegan stopped and yelled, "Get down!"

The men didn't think twice. They knew he was probably right, so they got down just before a tank round connected to a building. It destroyed the building and sent rubble flying up the road. Then they felt the vibrations from a German tank about to run them over.

One of the men got desperate and fired at the tank which then sent bullets back at them. Sgt. Bell got angry and though a stone at the soldier which knocked him out. When the tank crushed that fallen soldier, Bell cussed loudly and chucked a grenade at the tank which blew a track off of its wheels. This must have made Sgt. Bell happy because he didn't cuss when Keegan tripped and fell on top of him.

Keegan looked up and said, "Here they come!," as 700 Nazi soldiers started pouring into what was left of the street and began spray firing - killing 34 Americans. The corpsmen started running wildly trying to help the injured but getting themselves killed.

The Nazis just kept pressing on; Bell was getting ridiculously mad and cussed at everything. He ordered the bazookas to be fired at the tank; they annihilated the tank and killed 12 Nazis that surrounded it. They fell back to the market square where the Nazis were caught by surprise. Sgt. Bell ordered a flame thrower tank to be left on the road, and then he had a sniper shoot it. It exploded and flames flew up the street killing 200 Nazis. Keegan's fellow soldiers cheered at the sight.

Suddenly, a shot rang out and Sgt. Bell fell. Keegen ran over to him and found that he was shot through the chest and was dead. Some of the men ran up the street and found the sniper and filled him full of bullets. One of the last corpsmen tried to save Bell, but Keegan said, "He's gone, just leave him."

Nearly 500 Nazi soldiers stormed the square and many Americans died where they stood bravely holding their positions. Keegan was among the last 30 survivors who retreated to the AA gun bunker on the hill by the beach. They successfully held the Nazis off for an hour before they had to retreat inside the bunker.

Once inside, they fought until their numbers were only 6, including Keegan, when something odd happened. The Nazis on the left started falling faster than Keegan and his 5 comrades could have possibly taken down with their limited weaponry.

As the Nazis kept falling, Keegan said, "Stop! Save your ammo!" As Keegan thought their situation out, he realized that someone else was also shooting these Nazi soldiers. When the mystery people came into view, they were Belgian soldiers. They finished the rest of the Nazis off and took 12 prisoners.

Keegan walked out with the other 4 American troops. The tired American just watched the Belgians yell at the prisoners. No longer able to control his anger, Keegan snapped and ran at the prisoners and started punching them. Then the Belgian Officer stopped Keegan's onslaught and said, "You're welcome."

After talking for 20 minutes Keegan took a walk down to the beach and thought this battle, our captain, and this coast, I will always remember.