Buddies
By Lois Overton aka Foxhole Filly
 

Saunders looked around his men with a frown
He'd never let his squad mates down
How could he have led them into this spot?
Now he had to get them out, no matter what.
The air was rent with shouting men,
Each and every one depending on him.
Doc glanced up, filled with concern
"Littlejohn needs help, that's quite a burn,
Mallory is wounded, he can barely walk
And Smith here is on the clock.
These men need a hospital, and need it now,
We gotta get them out, but I don't know how."
Kirby said from behind his BAR,
"Yeah, I doubt we'd get too far.
The minute we stop firing to sneak away...
There won't be nothin' to keep them at bay.
They'll be all over us in nothing flat.
Retreating's like putting out a welcome mat."
"Hey, Sarge, what'll we do?" asked the veteran Caje.
"Yeah what?" cried the new kid, half his age.
"Caje, take the men and pull back to those trees-
I'll give cover and slow 'em with these."
His hand rested firmly upon a grenade,
The fates were testing of what he was made.
"Now get out of here quick, I wanna see tails;
We'll meet up later, unless this thing fails."
Caje tried to speak, but a look stopped him short;
Either the men moved now or they'd have to abort.
For a fleeting moment the private hesitated
Then he turned before his resolve abated.
Firmly grasping the stock of his Garand,
He called to each member of the tiny band.
"Doc...Kirby carry Smith if you can
Billy, give Mallory a helping hand.
Come on, Littlejohn, I'll serve as your crutch."
Then Caje turned to Saunders but he couldn't read much.
The sergeant watched them, his face grim.
He knew his chances were pretty slim.
"Now quick," he said firmly, "Lead out, Doc
C'mon! Move out, join up at that rock."
With all due speed the squad departed,
Till the Sarge was alone of the men who had started.
He watched them stumble away from the fight
Then took up firing as fast as he might.
The Krauts were starting to close in fast;
Saunders wondered just how long he could last.
The din of the battle quickly grew stronger
And Saunders couldn't delay any longer.
Setting his Thompson next to his knee,
Two pineapples were launched as quick as could be.
He couldn't see them land, but he clearly heard
The explosion, the screams, and then not a word.
A quick check to the side filled him with dread
As Schmeisser fire zinged over his head.
Krauts slipped around in a flanking direction
And Saunders had little time for reflection.
He turned, fired, and several more fell
That place was turning into a living hell.
Giving a glance over his shoulder,
In the distance he spotted Kirby's head at the boulder.
His men were safe, a load off his mind
But a volley of bullets near his head whined.
If he didn't move now, he probably never would;
He'd only get one chance, so it'd better be good.
He popped the end of the mag to firm up its seat
Then leapt from cover, feet pounding a furious beat.
Racing for safety, his legs were churning
The wind he sucked in set his chest burning.
He turned once more and fired a burst
Then again sped off, fearing the worst.
Twenty, fifty, now a hundred paces more
But the Krauts behind itched to even the score.
The squad was yelling their encouragement
Suddenly an explosion, and off his feet Sarge was sent.
He sprawled upon the hard, hard ground
As his head began to throb and pound.
Kirby turned to Caje and caught his eye;
Then, as one leapt from cover...they'd not let Sarge die.
Running back into the fray
To a stand of trees near where Saunders lay.
He wasn't moving, not a twitch of his head-
For all they knew the man was dead
The Krauts were watching, content to wait
To draw out the Americans to meet their fate.
Then Caje poked Kirby and pointed down the pitch
As Saunders' fingers started to twitch.
"He's alive!  Hey, Sarge, you OK?"
Caje called out to where his sergeant lay.
"Just stunned, I think everything is all right.
They're waiting for you to help me, and then they'll fight."
"Don't worry," Kirby shouted from a tree strong and tall,
We'll have you out of there in no time at all."
The Sarge cried weakly, "Don't be a fool...
You can't help me; you know the rule."
He tried to move forward inch by inch
But a hail of bullets made him flinch.
He was going nowhere if the Krauts had a mind
For sure Sarge was in a terrible bind.
Caje looked at Kirby, his determination large...
"Cover me, Kirby, I'm not leaving the Sarge.
The BAR spoke with a mighty roar
And out into the open the Cajun tore.
Jumping a log fallen to the ground
He could feel his heart in his chest pound.
The Germans returned a withering fire
The sound of firing grew higher and higher.
Caje clenched his teeth and caught his breath
As Kirby's BAR belched its torrent of death
Saunders shook his head, trying to clear the mist,
Saw the bullets screaming at Caje and really got pissed.
He scrambled to his feet, but fell down hard
Before he'd gotten more than a yard.
He was drawing fire and it filled him with rage
To know that they were setting up Caje
Caje's legs churned with all his might,
Kirby had timed his covering fire just right.
Every Kraut head ducked for cover;
One was hit and then another.
Giving Caje the time he'd need
To reach the Sarge and accomplish the deed.
He put an arm around the sergeant's waist
And headed toward the American lines with haste.
Saunders was half-dragged, limping along
Not the time to tell the Cajun if he did right or wrong.
Though the fire was intense, they retreated to the trees
And the two winded soldiers fell to their knees.
"Way to go, Caje!" Kirby slapped his back
"Now let's get out of here before they attack."
Saunders drew himself up, trying to stand;
He fell and grabbed his leg with his hand
"Don't worry, I can make it."  He started to rise,
But a trickle of blood told them otherwise.
"Sarge, let us help you, you're in no shape
Or for sure none of us will ever escape."
With no further talk, Saunders nodded agreement
He knew his energy had all been spent.
A machine gun sounded, brrrup, brrrrup
And Billy Nelson scooted up.
"Hey, you guys, you need a strong arm?
Let's be making tracks before we buy the farm."
"Thanks, Nelson," Sarge said with a grin
"I can always use the help from my men."
Billy put his arm under Sarge's pit
And Sarge hopped up, favoring the leg that was hit.
The two moved off 'cross the field toward their lines
And made their way toward a stand of pines
While Caje and Kirby decided to stay
To cover the rear and keep the Krauts at bay
Then as Billy and the Sarge disappeared in the trees,
Caje and Kirby slipped off, slick as you please
The Germans were left with no one to fight
As the sun lowered and moved on toward night.
But back in the west at phase line green
When Saunders's leg by the doctor'd been seen,
The squad gathered round Billy's roiling helmet-
Coffee and a cigarette, could life on the front better get?
Sarge entered the barn, his leg bandaged thickly
With each ginger step he looked rather sickly.
"Here, Sarge, have a seat."  Doc moved from a crate.
Saunders grinned, "Hey, what did I do to rate?"
Billy tipped thick liquid from his pot
Into a cup, "Hey, watch it, it's hot."
"Thanks, Nelson, I appreciate
Everything you guys did for me on this date."
"Gee, Sarge it was nothing you wouldn't do for us
So let's not make too big of a fuss."
"How's  your leg? What'd the doctor say?"
"Looks like I'll be out for a couple days.
Sarge lifted his cup and offered a coffee toast
"To the best squad in the ETO, that I can boast.
Men, I am proud, in my eyes you stand tall."
Doc nodded, "Glad to serve with y'all."
Six men raised their cups and silently drank
To the men of first squad, of every rank.