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Courage

By Mike Hall, June 9, 2021

Sally suggested a book that I subsequently picked up at Koelbel library.

Every Man A Hero…A Memoir of D-Day by Ray Lambert and Jim DeFelice.

Mr. Lambert is a decorated medic whose courage that day and in the war were extraordinary.

Here is an excerpt.

“Working my way across the beach, I found a man with a badly wounded arm. He was conscious, but bleeding so badly that I knew he was going to die. I picked him up anyway, got him out of the water and over near the rock.

He looked at me with the question everyone asked.

You’re going to be ok, I lied.

I put him down and went on with my work.

Many boats were coming in; it must have been the fourth wave arriving by now.

I waded out, knowing what was going to happen, hoping things might be getting easier. A few yards away I saw a man out in the water; alive or dead I couldn’t tell. I went out to
him and found him breathing. He was alive, wounded but not so seriously. But he looked too spent to swim.

The water might have been four feet deep. I got him with my left arm, hooking it around his.

While I’d been checking on him, a landing craft had raced over in our direction. Facing the beach, I didn’t see it. Just as we started to move toward land, that landing craft dropped its ramp directly on us.

We went straight to the bottom, pummeled by hundreds of pounds of metal, then held there, pinned against the sand and rocks.

I’m going to die.

This is how I’m going to die.

I knew I was going to drown. I fought, but how do you fight some 26,000 pounds of steel, oak, and men?

The difference between life and death on that beach was slimmer than a hair. We’ll never know how many guys survived because of some fluke of fate or twist in the wind. By the same token, we can’t guess how many died for the same reason.

As I struggled below the water, pinned and hopeless, pushing against one of my own boats, a miracle happened: The ramp went back up.

Free!

I suddenly shot to the surface, gulping for air.

The guy I’d come to save was still hooked on my arm. I leaned forward, hurting so bad that I sank to my hands and knees and crawled my way to the beach, dragging the GI with me.

The fourth and fifth vertebrae of my back had been broken; I didn’t know the details, but I sure knew the pain.

Meyers met me.

I’m not going to be able to go any further! I shouted.

I told him to keep taking men to the rock, and to send the walking wounded to the aid station.

Then I passed out.”

*** It’s no wonder they are called The Greatest Generation.

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