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Posted on Dec 26, 2006 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features

Interactive Combat Story: First Night in Normandy

By Brandon Neff

Try your hand as a Paratrooper dropping into Normandy in this interactive story – will you survive the D-Day assault?

Discuss this story in our forums!


1

The C-47 rocks back and forth as flak and anti-aircraft shells explode in the sky above Normandy.  The interior of the plane is illuminated by distant bursts and several of the men near the rear of the plane are heard vomiting both from fear and the horrid effects of the airsickness pills you were all required to take.  Just a few hours ago you were briefed for the last time.  Your company is responsible for securing several key bridges across the Douve river near Carentan. You studied the sand tables, cleaned your weapon one last time and joked with a few friends before the call came that the mission was on.  You had boarded this plane ready to engage and destroy the enemy and now you pray that you have the strength to stand when it is your turn at the door.

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A sudden jolt and curse from the cockpit brings you back to your senses.  A few seconds later, 20mm rounds rip through the tail fuselage and the whine of air is mixed with the howls of the injured and dying.  The captain, hoping to save the lives of as many men as possible, decides that you will be safer on the ground and the jump light flares green.

You aren’t sure how you get to the door but you think it is with the aid of the man behind you, a short kid named Jeremy Miller from Little Rock.  You keep pace with the men in front and when it is your turn, you step out of the plane and into a swarming storm of fire and death.

The blast from the props separates you from your equipment and your chute balloons open, jolting you upwards.  The decent, now painfully slow, allows you to survey the carnage below. The pathfinders, sent to light the way for the drop, have done a spectacular job…but looking down you realize you are not above your intended drop zone.  Instead you see flames and smoke billowing from downed aircraft, the sharp flash of machine gun and antiaircraft fire and hundreds of silk parachutes.  Within seconds, you hit the ground in an open patch of grass and light timber.  You work frantically to free yourself from your chute and seek cover near a fallen tree.

Your heart racing and hands shaking, you take a few breaths to calm yourself before assessing your situation. You are alone, weaponless and lost. Nevertheless, your mission remains the same and you vow to make it to those bridges by dawn.  You peer ahead into the darkness and listen intently for any sign or sound of friend or foe.  Satisfied that you are in no immediate danger, you set off to distance yourself from your landing spot in the event that an intrepid German soldier saw you land and decides to investigate.

Roughly 50 yards from where you landed, you spot a paratrooper hanging from a tree, his uniform splotched with blood.  You tap his boot and confirm that he is indeed gone.  However, his M1 rifle and equipment bag are intact and you quickly arm yourself.  Even in death, this comrade comes to your aid.

Your best estimate is that the Douve river is to the southwest of your present position and you set off, anxious to meet up with the rest of your platoon and company now scattered all over the French countryside.

After a few minutes of travel, you see a glint of metal ahead in the darkness between two trees.  You reach into your pocket and retrieve the cricket, a small toy given to all the paratroopers to identify one another in the darkness, and give it a single click.  There is no response from the darkness and you bring your rifle up to your shoulder.

If you fire into the darkness, Go to 14.

If you call out “Flash”, Go to 20.

[continued on next page]

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