Short Stories 

 

 

 

Sunday
Jul262009

Death on a Beautiful Day by Raul Loera

Death on a Beautiful Day

By Raul Loera

It was an icy cold morning, the sun just beginning to break through the clouds, its rays slicing through the cold morning air. The only sounds were those of the aircraft flying in formation. We were on a routine patrol over the English Channel looking for enemy bombers or fighters. My thoughts were back home with my family, my girl, and my future. The buzzing engines just seemed to become part of my thoughts, all blending together.

Just as I was becoming mesmerized the radio in my P-51 cracked, “Jerries, 12 o’clock high, 109’s! ” All of a sudden bullets started ripping through the air like fireflies going crazy, only these were the kind of fireflies that killed. My left hand automatically pushed the throttle to full power and my mustang screamed to life! I pulled the nose up and saw a 109 racing broadside and going vertical with his top side fully exposed. Right away I started tracking the 109; he pulled up and tried to do a loop only to fly right into my cross hairs. I eased my plane back and pulled the trigger. My guns screamed hot lead spitting out of the barrels, the lead raked across the top of the 109 and into the poor fool’s cockpit. Soon there was a mixture of black smoke, oil, and blood. His aircraft exploded into pieces.

Debris from the plane and the pilot seemed to flow down to earth. Just then a few tracer rounds zipped by my plane on the left side like shooting stars. I had two bandits on my six trailing me while firing. I quickly broke right trying to shake them. I pulled back hard on the stick trying to come up behind them. I started to black out, so I squeezed my jaws and face trying to keep the blood in my brain. I soon pulled up behind them on their six, one broke left and the other right. I stayed on the right one. He was in my cross hairs. I did three quick successions on the trigger. His right wing came off and he quickly went into an uncontrollable spin.

I looked up and around and it was like everybody had disappeared, no radio chatter from either side. It was eerie. I looked around and the sky was quiet, peaceful, and beautiful almost as if the heavens had swallowed everybody. Then I heard three rounds slam into my left wing, tracers filled the sky in front of me. I was being fired at by a ME 110 bomber below me. I had unwittingly flown into their direct line of fire. I had so far survived the encounter. He was about 1000 feet below me. I turned my plane upside down and pulled a split “S”. I throttled up and dove towards them like a bat out of hell. The bomber tried to run, tracers flying at me from several guns, all of them trying to kill me!

As I got closer I could see the back gunner’s face; he couldn’t be more than 19 years old. I pulled the trigger, my guns killing him instantly. He flew back against the frame, his face becoming instant mush. I felt bad but he would have done the same thing to me. I fired again this time striking the right engine. Immediately his engine exploded into red and black flames. The flames were licking the sides of the plane. I could see the crew moving about inside trying to exit, the pilot waiving at them with excitement as if telling them to hurry up so he could exit also. Out of nowhere their airplane exploded killing all of them. It slammed into the ocean disintegrating into fiery debris, all young, all dead. The 6 50 cal’s worked that back gunner over good. It was the first time I had ever seen somebody killed by a machine guns and a sight that I hoped never to see again. But now the whole crew was dead, dead by me. They would not be going home.

I felt bad for having killed them, my only consolation was the lies I told myself that they were the enemy and they would and were trying to kill me. In war it doesn’t matter how much you try but every time you kill somebody it burns into your mind like a painful memory. You can always try and justify it but in the grand scheme of all things nothing in war is really justifiable. Consolation lies in the fact that you are alive and your enemy is dead. It’s all relative I guess. We go to war and we die, whether we are physically dead or alive. We loose a part of us in war whether on the ground, sea, or in the air. Death was an integral part, a necessary evil if you will.

Soon I spotted two of my squad mates. We lined up. We lost one of ours. A guy named James Roberts. Nobody saw him bail out. He had just joined the squadron replacing another guy killed 2 weeks earlier; fresh out of flight school and now dead at 23 years old. Now we had to go back and collect all his belongings and make sure they got home. As bad as it sounds I know the guys would divide his food, blankets, and cards among themselves. It was what we did. I’m sure the Germans would be doing the same thing. That night back at base, we would go to the bar and drink to our dead comrade. I would in my mind drink to the dead Germans as well for they were soldiers who like me were dragged into this war created by foolishness, greed, and the eternal thirst for power. Tomorrow I would get up and do it all over again.

Many young men died today, on a beautiful day.

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