Epinal

Sergeant Lloyd Adams

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However, the trees provided ample cover and gave the means to live. A makeshift line was drawn up and the members of the 324th Infantry began to make home on it. Usually there were three men to a foxhole, if one could even be dug in the frozen earth. Each three-man team in the unit was assigned a 105mm Howitzer artillery gun. This gun was their fourth best-friend, and accounted for ninety percent of the men’s daytime activities. The barrell and chamber had to be cleaned often, and the sights had to be checked and set for action. What little ammunition the unit had left had to be stacked neatly next to the gun. Upon call of action, the expertly trained crew took six to eight seconds per shot, depending on whether new coordinates had to be set.


At the present location, dug into the hill, the rest of the day would be spent scraping together what wood wasn’t already burned and looking for any type of food. Earlier a scout bagged a small doe, but he was too weak to haul it back to the camp. The men had to settle on ammo-box cooked rice and the hind quarters of the doe. This encampment was affectionately became known as "The Gauntlet of 44." Should anything unfriendly ever pass though the Vosges Gap, the 324th would rain upon them the most unrelenting artillery attack that the Germans had ever seen. With thirty-three guns trained on the road below, enemy vehicles would not last more than a few seconds.


A motionless GI stirred awake in his foxhole. He looked at his watch and sighed. Only four hours of sleep, but it was the most in a week. The waiting is what bothered many of the men, the not knowing just when the enemy may decide to come back. His numb hands fumbled around to his side pocket and the fingers pulled out a silver Zippo lighter. Engraved in it were the initials L.E.A., a high school graduation gift from his father. In one quick motion, he flicked open his Zippo and moved the steel roller against the flint. Fire…the only heat around, besides the dwindling body temperature of the other two men in his foxhole. And light…giving the young soldier just enough to pull out his pack of Camels and light up. He sucked in the tobacco smoke and tried to relax. The cramped quarters of the foxhole and the rocky terrain make it hard to do so. His canteen had been empty for several hours, as no one had lit a fire to melt snow. Just why was he here, the GI thought to himself, and not home building a barn for his neighbor, waiting for the weekly neighborhood cookout. Corn, potatoes, and steak, the juices of which he could almost seem to taste. He rubbed his chin in attempt to warm up and felt the sting of six week old facial hair, greasy and unkept. This young soldier was Lloyd Adams.


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© By Glenn John Adams