BATES-R US News By the time

By the time

By the time the last boat was off the beach and was straightened away for home it was beginning to get dark and then came the very unwelcome word that the transports were ordered to leave the area and that ship would see us in the morning.  So we had to prowl around in our little boats all night long about a mile off Iwo Jima and be ready for business in the morning.

I’ve never had such a let-down or such a reaction in my life.  It’s impossible for me to explain and certainly difficult for you to understand the horror with which I had realized that I was a thousand yards behind my proper position the first time I went into action.  That, plus the natural strain of the day had me pulled as tight as a piano wire and when the pressure was off I did a fancy puking job over the side.  After that was over I felt OK except for being sore at having had such a stupid reaction.

I organized our six man crew into watches for the night and stood the first one myself to see what the situation was going to be.  It was eerie as hell I can tell you.  The night seemed endless and I slept very little.  The fighting ships had been lobbing shells into the island all day and continued through the night.  They were so close that the explosions jarred the boat each time they fired.  We could see the flash of the guns, see the red-hot projectile pass overhead, hear it swish by and then see it hit ashore.  And what a racket!  The noise seemed heightened by the darkness and since we had nothing to do but wait for morning we noticed the noise more than during the day.

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