I remember how I expected that some of the soldiers in this boat would soon become casualties. Others must have been thinking the same thing. No one talked anymore, not a word was uttered, but you used your eyes. From time to time I would find myself casting a look sideways at a guy, thinking, which one of us is about to die? Is it you or is it me?
Then, ramps were dropped along the boat line and one after the other, we jumped into the cold water, which rose up to our chest, our shoulders. For a moment, some disappeared under the turbulent surface. Half-swimming, half-wading, and carrying our overloaded packs and our M-1 semi-automatic rifles, we began to move slowly onto the shore, unsure if we are already in front of the Nazi strongpoint.
Where was the enemy? Perhaps over there, atop the bluff? Were they aiming their rifles and machine guns at us, biding their time for just the right second to press the trigger? Were they watching, waiting patiently for us to come closer into their sights, within a comfortable shooting distance, before letting loose?
Accidentally I stumbled and took a big gulp of water, which made me thrash about and filled my throat with a briny tang. My chest heaved, struggling for air until, somehow, I found firm ground underfoot. Carrying my pack I struggled forward through the high surf of the sea and laid my left hand firmly on the pack of the man in front of me. Upon my back I felt the hand of another man. A line was forming. All seemed so orderly, which gave the impression that we were merely carrying out a routine exercise. Forward we marched, now crossing through shallow water that hissed at us, drowning out the alarming sound of silence.