I almost forgot. I don't know how I could. but it was on March 5, 1945, I stepped on a land mine.
It was a German Shue mine. It was designed, not to kill, but to take off a foot. It did. If you kill an enemy soldier you take him out of service, but if you maim him, you take him out, and three or four others who have to care for him.
And here is the irony. It wasn't even covered. In their haste, the enemy had started to lay down mines, but had to flee at our approach. I stepped on an uncovered mine. And here is the greater irony. What distracted me at the crucial moment? A civilian woman who was shouting from a nearby window, apparently trying to warn us about the mines. In trying to warn me, she diverted my attention for a couple of seconds...the exact wrong couple of seconds for me.
And here is the greatest irony of the whole fiasco...in trying to warn me, she distracted me so that I set off the bomb, and SHE WAS WOUNDED TOO. Go figure.
I don't know the name of the town. I don't know the name of the woman who tried to help. I don't know whatever happened to her with her wounds. I wonder if she ever thinks of me. I must have been a sight...flung into the air and coming down with a thump. That fall hurt worst of all for a few seconds... the blast had not registered with me yet
My thoughts at the time. I looked down at the instant my foot touched the mine. I saw my foot on the mine. I was surrounded by noise...enveloped in it. "It went off," I thought, and then thump, I landed on my bottom. I must have flown six feet in the air, it was a proper bump.
That was fifty-twoyears ago. I thought I would never forget it. But I did.