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victory of the sea


 

 Victory of the Sea

- from the NBC- TV documentary "Victory at Sea" 



PART ONE 
1. 

It was designed for war. The submarine rose. Ships were sinking, men were dying. Victory may be won in the depths. To survive they must kill, ravage and destroy, severing the arteries that feed the enemy. Desperately needed, they were pitifully few. It made little showing in the statistics of ships. 

They were quick to act with all their means. The flag unfurled. They were under patchwork protection. It was a feeble way of making war. They were hoping to dodge the enemy. Theirs was a cruel death waiting to move in for the slaughter. An exciting explosion, the war on land seemed homely with its parades and serenades. But his finger was on the trigger. They stood stripped of their armor. It was the hour of catastrophe. It was his turn to dance. Now comes something new to history. The squadrons came over around the clock. Public opinion was slowly forming. Forthright aid, a stop gap strategy, all-out production became the goal throughout the land. They held a pistol pointed at its head. Realities supported their ideals. They easily fell into the trap. Around the rim they were in was where the shooting was. Technicians relayed the information. They were ordered out for the kill. The pack rendezvoused for the attack. Searching for a return echo, sinkings were routine. The contact was too late. They were come home safely from the sea. They were honored as crusaders. The bottom of the Atlantic was a formidable cemetery. There were no tombstones in it. It was just beginning. 



2. 

An enchanted island paradise. There’s still time to enjoy tropical sunshine. Events were maturing with breathless rapidity. Two opposing levels of culture existed, a strange mixture of ancient and new. They harnessed into ideas under one roof the glory of conflict forging a new empire. The world was beginning to catch an ominous word. They pondered their dilemma. They hatched a plan to eliminate the obstacle. The attack meant war’s bold design demanded hard study of installations of every kind of every military factor. There is little they didn’t know in advance. Technically and emotionally their indoctrination was perfect. Secretly staged, they sharpened their plans and decisions which became orders and actions moving relentlessly to their climax. They slipped out to sea from a hidden harbor. They veiled their progress. So powerful a striking force, they prepared themselves for the attack. They prepared to strike for glory. They swung into the wind to launch the planes. Here’s the launching point. Waving their hats, it was almost noon. 

They had a puzzling Sunday morning. They were uneasy. There was no delay in the flight of the warplanes. Sunny, relaxed, peaceful, slowly life began to stir on the island. There was something in the air. The bombs exploded. They ran away. They fell to the ground. They were firing away. Dramatic shots. So smashing a victory. Sunk or battered or demolished. It was a cheap triumph. Suffering, agony, death. Their newly won pride. The Emperor was rejoicing with his subjects. The hulks were still hot hidden in the havoc. The seeds of a miracle, in the ruins there was life. The vision of a shattered fleet hidden in a pall of fire and smoke, dead ships sail again. 



3. 

It was an unprovoked attack. A state of war existed. The enormous task funneling orders, directions, actions needed that were never dreamed of. The products must be sent where they count most. The black blood of the machine age. A long voyage to England. The battleships were useless. There were strategically located air bases. The work of the unseen enemy, a line of ships, sometimes they leave a trace. A smoke bomb marks the spot. There was no response. The lights deepened. Enemy eyes were patiently peeled waiting for a silhouette. They prepared to surface. How bold they had become, that they dared to fight on the surface!! Where are you, Captain? The killers have gone into the indifferent sea. 

The wealth of North and South America, stuffed to the bursting point, was a dominating factor throughout the war. Organization and a knowledge of the enemy. Some will not live through the ordeal as soon as their ships put to sea. Nothing is left untried. They cover the convoy as they sail into the unknown scattered across thirty miles of ocean according to a prearranged timetable, all the intricate new devices still leaving dangerous holes around the convoy, the strain of maintaining stations, a deceptively normal course as long as aircraft were overhead. The perilous open spaces, the fatal gap intensifying all hazards of the open. A collision would be disastrous. Nerves raw and weary to no avail. Blowing it up, they head for the bottom and sweat the depth charges. It was safe to kill again. Hapless they strike, pathetically little with which to resist. They fight back. The hunt was still on. They shuffled along their agonizing course. The weather will become worse as the sea takes over, rendering everything ineffective. Calm seas are welcome. Everyone can relax. Clear skies bring some relief. Now the enemy is over as well as under. They devise plans for a major attack. They proceed to a designated spot. The sea rushing past. They scan the horizon. Interception is perfect. No ship is safe as the whole place crashes down. The long voyage is almost over. Some of them get through to bring victory nearer. Who can measure the cost? 



4. 

Yesterday it was the whole Pacific, over twelve million square miles the hordes spread with glory as their goal. They take note of an enemy surge. The burning roof falls in. They wade ashore carrying heavy loads. Swords are raised and they go forward through the smoke and glare. It stood as a symbol of their prestige. It was their turn, the mightiest fortress in all the east. Look seaward for trouble creeping deep in the jungles. The jungle does not stop them lurching across, cutting through thickets. The big guns boom. The flag is carried away. Conquerors demand with no aid in sight. In the same plight they began their march of death. Defeat, catastrophe. humiliation. They only thought of relief. There is no real relief. A common suffering, a new bond of brotherhood is forged. The marchers stumble. They have fallen. Five horrible months like an octopus spreading tentacles to feed its appetite for conquest. They never once sighted each other. They were badly damaged. 

The tide was turning across the enormous ocean wastes. The build up begins. Waiting. Technology will dominate the current struggle. A fateful decision. He commanded a carrier task force, incessant patrols in search of the elusive enemy. They want to use it as an outpost. Planes perch and search through a gap in the clouds. Outnumbered in every class, he plots his new leadership in preparation for landing. The pride of the navy, confident and fanatical, they prepare to slaughter the Marines and extend their record of unbroken conquest. Planes plunge through the skies firing guns and shells that burst into flame. It blazes but stands. They plan. They hit the jackpot. They come back fighting. So loaded with fighting equipment, they hit with all they have. Every plane has left the field. The guns flash. They slay and fall and yet of their bursts not one hits. The invasion is still on. They stand by for orders. He now knows the approximate location. A moment for a command decision. They will risk an all-out attack hoping to surprise the enemy. Pilots man their planes. The young and the brave, they seek to dominant the sky, precise and ordered as a ballet. Some will perish in the sea. 

Still unaware they prepare for another strike. All their planes are destroyed in the air and not one hit is scored. The news is grim. Now the dive bombers go in. They are unequal to the task. Their planes are re-armed. And now the course of battle is reversed. An enemy blunder. An all-out disaster. The enemy crumbles, smashed and sinking. The rest jump into the fight. Above is added to below. One remains untouched. They lash back. They finally spot it. They know they are the target of the avenging enemy. Hell is on the wing. They take off to meet it. They press their assault to the limit. This is serious. They plunge into flames and hurtle into the sea. Retaliation is on the way and rings down the curtain on the battle. Gone with them their irreplaceable pilots. A decisive victory. They retreat. 



5. 

The middle sea is many seas. The great rivers meet and mingle. The waters wash the shores. They were waxing bold in the limelight. They were an integral part of a meeting. They arrogated to themselves on the mountain to urge their destruction, a menace to the world. 

The fleet guards the way. Their faith is yet unshattered. What happens is powerful. Control rests literally on a rock, a moat, natural forces, what nature has provided. Alive with soldiers. The coming battle. They burrow deep. Riddled with tunnels, as the rock goes, it must be kept open and protected. The beautiful vista looking north. It put them in a powerful position, so urgently desired, so vital. On these ships rested the fate of empires. They face that harsh knowledge. 

It chiefly depended on the wealth, safety and a great decision of the war. They sweep forth to clear the sea lanes. Long odds were not a challenge. The soul of a ship is the spirit of the sailors. It permeates the theme more formidably than cannon balls. Traditional prayers sustain the sailors in their peril. Day and night come to an end. The fleet in which they survive feeds a crew of men. Are there any complaints about the chow? The officers eat in swell surroundings. The wine is mixed with water. They roll the dice and play. More than a machine of war, a community of men far from the chaos, one constant dream when peace at last is won. Home at last with the sound of bells clamoring to steal the first kiss. They hang in their bunks. Ominous, the mosaic changes. 

They must guard the battle line alone. The clouds gather and the councils of despair argue that the sea should be abandoned to the enemy. They know no retreat. They are put to the test. Continuous, unbroken, undismayed they carry on. The irremovable thorn in the soft underbelly, they hold on to it like a bulldog. Waves of history have washed over them. Tangles of streets and hills. They send out more bombers to blast, burn and butcher. Swiftly the flag flies up the flagpole. The die is cast. They take shelter. Run children, run! The siren is sounding! The farmers flee the fields. The planes are sighted. They blast through the air. They explode. They pray and cross themselves. Even if they don’t see them coming they feel the heat. The devastation is great. They live through a nightmare of attacks. Their unbreakable defiance. Grim statistics. Many thousands were dead. A shamble of useless hulks at journey’s end, littered with the skeletons of ships, the wasted wreckage of dead ships, dead sailors, a cemetery of the sea. Through endless ages aggressors have battled their gates. History swallowed them up in the hour of their ordeal. All the bells ring: aggressions were here shattered. 



6. 

It was spewed out in abundance onto an island in the middle of the sea, the springboard for attack. Forgotten by man, festering malaria, unpredictable forces. They embarked for an undetermined mission somewhere in the uncertain future. The tedious ordeal. Someday they will clash. Beneath the bridge, they lie in their bunks sleeping, dreaming. They sweep ashore from beyond. The ocean lifeline, the long and most tenuous of ties. They leave for the unknown, sail away to war. They must fight and die. The placid calm before carnage. They sleep undisturbed. They push and slowly converge. A lone American plane. Building an airfield, changing the course of the war, seat of war planning recasting the global tragedy. Their resources are slim. They lie in the shadow of the advance. The cordial hospitality of a sincere ally. They have their mission: die. 

Ordered to seize the island, loaded with gear, they sail for battle. They puzzle and ponder. They take the offensive. The overture to assault is the theme of the future being played on the beaches. They land the landing force. It’s the hour of hit and stay. They walk ashore into the island. They fight their way. In the air they strike back quickly and hard before they can unload. Near disaster to the Marines ashore, the shattered transports withdraw. Implacable, hateful the toil and the terror, not a name but an emotion. The day after landing, their own gear is destroyed. They unleash full fury. They destroy it first. They are planning to retreat. It was the decisive battle. No troops better than these, experts in ambush and concealing. They creep through the jungle, crack units under the cover of night. Unawares. They meet savagery with savagery. They fight and fight. They clear them out. All the history of human slaughter. The casualties mount from the rot and corruption of the jungle. They die in a series of terrible sea battles. Throughout their empire they pause out of respect. With timetable regularity they sacrifice their blood to the surrounding sea, strewn with dead ships. Nights of human ordeal and defeat, human valor and victory. Reeling from the blows, a running wound through which they bleed. 

Far from the destruction they organize to rescue the world. A distant answer to a distant prayer. The foundries and machines. Marching together, the whole panoply smashing and fighting, a battering ram going to war. Another group of grim old young men at a lonely grave. They served their time in hell. What small tribute. Horror and ferocity, courage and self-sacrifice, they advance no further. It slips out of focus into history 



7. 

They dominate the Pacific. Proud and confident, they spill over their legitimate boundaries to defy the allies. All they have dedicated to their emperor, sun of heaven. In the fore of all conquests, the band plays on. The magnificent fleet is ranged in triumph, never to know defeat, with tenacious and tireless spirit. A mighty base to attempt to break the fragile hold, they polish the guns. The flags wave. The harbor arsenal base fortress clenches them, holding a bulwark to support the navy, immoveable, secure, impregnable. Carefree pilots destroy all ships, supplies and men who have, what the audacity, to challenge their mandate. They sweep out to dominate. 

A foothold must be won until they knock them out. They forge rings around the island. Another rung up the latter. A stepping stone. A quick stroke took five bitter weeks. To transform it into an operational airfield, to build again, takes seven days. The wheels turn. The first plane. Where wild orchids flourish another airfield comes to life. Another bead is drawn on the target. Burgeoning into a major base, justifying the agony, they were a long way to go. Ripe for ripping, take off to soften up. Their business is killing. Swooping away. The date is set to provide a forward base. The whole complex is in movement before planes fly. War’s oldest ingredient: the foot soldier. A new sense of foreboding. The opening salvoes hit the notes of war’s incessant theme: death. They meet the dank challenge. The wildest jungle, the deepest swamp. Hidden in the tangle, the enemy. 

They have won. A battlefield yesterday was an airfield tomorrow. Black cats come out at night. The eyes of the cat see through the dark. Down the slot of water, they fall to battle. Inside the groping ships, the intricate apparatus picks up the scent outside in the ominous dark. They prepare to thwart the last swarm on the black sea. 



8. 

Our sea. The hand that held the dagger has struck. There was a long rattling on the sidelines. Steel of history, coveted as a personal glory, a campaign that seems certain, for them war is suicide. Outnumbered but not unprepared, they break to pieces against the rugged hostile hills. The bayonet they fight with against common foes, sailing fearless under the gaze of axis bombers, blasting holes at sea, into the harbor the overtaxed navy sails. They’d already lit the fire of war. No matter what the risk, the first flowers, man must fight for his freedom. Intervention brings retaliation. The storm crushes everything that stands in its way. From out of the mountains came the ragged parade of the defeated. The scope of the disaster. The struggle to escape by sea. The east is dark. Understanding, sympathy, hope. When daylight came, in the light, they see land. 

They continue to push and push through unremembered centuries. Once again determined on the trackless sands, the dreary wastes, a camel caravan, they vainly challenge and mount a drive into Egypt. Hardened and armored for the long hazardous haul, they send transports and trucks. They pull back and forth across the rim. They surge east. The most cunning adversary, they re-enact the victories already won. They plunge into pursuit. Fronts are cracking, pillaging lifelines in the Atlantic, strewn with monuments of defeat, all their precious supplies and prisoners of war. He pauses to re-organize. They were not going to be thrown back. 

They consider subjugation on the spot. In nominal command, the control of the sea depends on supplies. Once and for all, a question mark. Protection sacrificed for speed? Swift and skilled in maneuvers, their grim ships. The strain intensifies, sown with hardship and death. They stop the flow of supplies. The stakes are high, the ordeal is great. They sign the papers. They light up all boilers to meet the challenge. On the clash of the outcome depends the fate of the Mediterranean. The troops bear down. The guns fire aft. The dread aftermath. The ships turn. Meanwhile cutting through the sea, the fleet enters the bay. They have done their job. They pour their military might into the city, massive materials and men, transforming the desert army. These circumstances force the enemy to unleash their all-or-nothing offense back across the desert. They retreat. More fodder for the fire. The jugular vein stands untouched and unmolested. Ships come through. 



9. 

On the brink of conquering Russia, there was an unbroken agony of siege and defeat. Hoping to divert the Germans, the guns keep pounding. The buildings falling, the soldiers crawling, the children playing. At a black hour they no more can hold their own. Bold decisive action where? How they ponder the question. They direct the strategy. Their means are rather limited. They need all they can get. The pressure of events is inexorable. Time will not wait. The joint adventure, one prong secretly forces south, aimed for the Mediterranean. They were untried and untested, fresh from civilian lives. Crystal sands and the far shore of Africa. They’d never been to sea before. 

In a bold move, the chances of success were rated no better than 50-50. Rumors circulated that they are in deadly earnest. They must light the torch and keep it burning. They plod their precarious way, moving jointly. They make the longest voyage across the perilous sea. They land on the beaches safely and do their job. They are charged with a grave responsibility. They fool around and wait and try to forget what’s ahead. Lectures, briefings, discussions, they come as friends. They pledge to defend all, but none can say. They must sneak towards shore like an enemy. They turn their searchlights skyward. In the hazy dawn the troops go ashore. Will they be embraced or shot? No resistance. They have not heard the broadcast. 

They decide to fight. No doubt remains now, the shores are hostile. The troops head for shore, more trouble lying in wait in the harbor. Brief sparks. For three bitter days the battle continued. They take over. Not without sorrow, buried side by side. Trapped. The worst setback. The band plays. It was an important road network. The gauntlet of submarines and bombers, in one fell stroke, with some help, the tactics worked. A fighting ally is free to join the march. They carry the flag. They point the way. A newly won seaport, the ultimate conflict lashing. They must squeeze them to death. There was a grinding struggle for supplies. The showdown is on. The campaign depends on the ports. They spearhead the race to key ports in the rear. His unbroken dream is shattered, but they will not let go. They send streams of planes to counter the allies. They begin their own buildup.

Will they succeed or fail? They are marching along, pushing from both ends. Pushing and pounding. Hands at the throat, the pincers close, the sands run out. Death of the effort on sea and sand, obituaries written on the road to disaster. The face of fascism shows the furor of defeat. It is the end of the beginning. 




PART TWO 

10. 

Under the cross somewhere in the majestic waters, a secret rendezvous. They were preying on a milk cow. Fashioned and refreshed, they hit harder without returning to base. Pushing and shoving, hauling aboard, sweeping asunder rapidly to spread havoc, their oily link. In a common cause they were not alone. Extending his warmest welcome, they cordially embraced. War came five years too soon. They were capable and impatient with the navy of which they’d hoped. The pride of the fleet, superbly equipped, brilliantly designed, eager for blood, it carries out the fuehrer’s orders. Huge guns, wildly successful, hunt them down, and doomed, warning to stop, they hold fire till the crew is transferred. Marked for destruction, then they bomb it out of existence. 

The menace overshadowed, after incessant search they bring the battleship to bay. They fire the guns. The salvoes win the day. The ship is crippled far from base, running for cover, peace and refuge. They patrol outside the harbor to prevent its escape. Strict neutrality rules. Trapped. Active warships keep the ship neutralized. They were the ramparts to keep the war from the shore. 

The totalitarian trappings were openly worshipped as the keystone of the system. They were relentlessly policing the southern waters. There is another kind of killer loose. By stealth and fraud, with a broken face, when ready to kill, a ravager showing its true colors, the mass assassin of the sea, already it prowls for more before sending another ship to the bottom. They exact tribute before they destroy. They do not go unchallenged. 

The vital waters which feed the world’s oceans are arteries to investigate. They were alerted for action. Secret recognition signals: This is no friend. Death of a raider. They cannot stay to rescue survivors. Hoping for combat, it was a mission far different. The providential appearance meant sudden salvation. They headed towards shore. Midway, a barren slab of rock, a militant sentinel or a haven for friends? 

They swim on the sandy beaches. They pause and refuel. They wing out in both directions. There is a saying that he favored the land so lavishly that they pooled into one single cooperative effort. They train. They deny them from concentrating from bases on the bulge. The aquamarine water. Steady patient patrols add another dimension of protection. They shadow the earth. Deep in the valley the far off primeval forest, they pour out its wealth. They come through bearing wealth swept from the ocean highways, spread wide across the sea. Side by side they stream towards their goal. Victory. 



11. 

It was magnetic to them. Over the vast empty territory war had come to the wilderness, waste, void of the ultimate north. The vacuum is filled. They meet. Routes, avenues shrink, the links clear, defended. They stand at bay, marshalling their forces. The ancient tradition of quick torturous raids was crucial to the enemy war machine. They plan, strike, retire swiftly. They raid the seas. They blow the house down. With fires everywhere they find a mixed bag of captured officers. The liberation of their country, rich coal deposits and key weather stations must be destroyed. Increasing in scope and violence to weaken the enemy they hold, heavily fortified. The stubborn defenders fight back. They burn the place down. The army is defeated. More installations wrecked. Determined to get supplies no matter what the cost, a lifeline is flung across the north. The pregnant ship, the grimmest, the harshest, the cruelest terrible seas. Detailed reports come in. A magnificently effective plan. Slaughter changes the white snow to red. Slaughter. 

The ships depart. The convoys awake. Here they come! Smokescreens confuse the attack, the entire holocaust of Nazi fury. But of course, you can’t see them either, relentlessly, unbroken, reeling under the slugging. They were ready to smother. The mightiest warships, too wary. They smash them as they smash the convoy. They reel. They come close to full disaster for days on end. To choke off supplies the reeling army may collapse. The battle is in balance. They spare nothing to tip the scales. They row to escape. The loss is so high, casualties so terrific. Another ordeal. The scourge of the ships’ run, the frozen sea. Journeys end. They sustain a friend they are pledged to answer, that bolsters them in their darkest hour, that helps stem the horde. 

In miserable moments, which restrict movement, they meet as friends, as comrades in arms. They walk arm in arm. They stretch out the knowledge of how to do it. Full dress formality attends the transfer. They prepare to plant the flag permanently. A target. They split off from the main body. They approach American soil. They seek to invade. The Japanese have come! Occupied without opposition, scattered, dreary, undermanned. The world’s worst flying weather. Make the islands worthless! Both sides fear attack and seek to block the other. The stubborn stalemate breaks. They grope their way through navigation hazards, raging storms, the heavy seas. They sharpen swords. The big guns blare. On the island’s south coast, they advance into the valley where the enemy waits. A freezing hell, suicidal courage, they contest every foot. They evacuate. A desolate victory. The enemy will never return. The bone-piercing chill. The skies are eternally grey. They sail away. 



12. 

Ranging far, sweeping wide, they venture deep. Mighty carriers are the core. Radically new tactics meet the challenge. The immediate targets are scattered. They deliver the blows that need to be made. Like homing pigeons they will be back. They are nibbling at, they are preparing for the kill. Their central intelligence reports. It was the scene of the most humiliating disaster. 

Only minutes away in the midst of war, a friend to sailors in the midst of battle, they bask on the beach. The girls sway. Assault troops are destined. A world apart may be brought together. They suffer and bleed and die on intervening atolls that block the way. The victor of the battle is named commander. Powerful fast carrier forces sustain air power. They strike and stay. Anywhere, anytime, driven through the water at a speed that keeps pace with the fastest units of the fleet, the hours are long between their bouts with death. A seagoing city organized for day-to-day existence as well as the requirements of war, they smoke cigarettes and yawn but the business is battle. The tiny islands. They must execute the plan. They smash, confusing the enemy as to the main line of attack. The hour approaches in the middle of nowhere. Every sailor prepares. They break out special chow. Tense, long moments before battle. None say but all know action comes too soon. It is later than they think. They unleash shellfire. They strafe and bomb. They purge the landing of terror. They are pushed to the limits of endurance. The hell of every shoreline. They rest in agony. 

There is no lack of essential ammunition to keep the enemy on the run, to fight the fight. They lend full support. They pound down. They’ve encrusted the island with soldiers. They’re not so different from you and me. 

They run to their planes and start their engines. They rev up. They take off. Group after group, they hurl skyward. Fighting hellcats, avengers, winged war craft fill the sky. A very sophisticated apparatus. The first warning of counter attack, precisely plotted, is all too clear and simple. Enemy planes approaching. They’re big so you have to be big. They intercept, beat them off, shoot them down. Stop the fighting! They fall from the skies. On the burning islands they slug it out. As a team they crack and pulverize their defenses with alacrity and speed. They never give up until they die. Too broken to resist, they stumble. Back come the wounded and maimed, the shattered and crippled. They skid and abort. They crash and burn. The battle weary. They profoundly altered the war. They tore from the enemy sacrifice, victory, death, the struggle, the corpses. Their memory is ever sacred. Acceptable to our sight, they find repose, their bodies committed to the deep. 



13. 

The nightmare. It was key to a vast strategic area. Daily comes destruction. It must be taken, the formidable mountain range, gloomy gorges, a natural barrier. The movement over the mountains, an overland trek, man-killing miles to reach their target. They cross streams and valleys, a teeming tangled nightmare of impenetrable forest. They must throw back the Japanese. The jungle labyrinth. The allies must advance against a foe who fearlessly resists them. Months of brutal combat. The airfield was only six miles from the coast. They served as stepping-stones, a horror of death, wounds, disease. He was fed through a tube. 

A major move was made to strengthen their hold. They head to sea. They make ready to nullify the threat with every available plane, bomb, bullet. Taking off at noon on a clear day they encounter their prey. Bombs away! It’s a major victory of planes over ships. 

Strange new ships change the pattern of war. It was the first great amphibious war. Down the rivers flock the Landing Ship Tanks in precise sequence in proper order. On some remote beachhead, through Australia, beginning in the summer, they flow in a massive surge. A navy without glamour: hard living, hard fighting. What was blueprinted becomes actuality. Every item is in its designated place. The fulfillment seemed remote. Along the coast, in combined operations, they fight with all they have. Footholds, stealthy, covered, tense, silent, strained: the test of combat. They resist with fury and determination. They fight a losing battle. They were cut off from their bases. More rugged, more useful, wealth and ingenuity made America great, combined in peace and war. They were more successful than even their designers imagined. 

One of his rare promises, having lost the initiative, all the strength that can be spared, mounting more swiftly, fantasy becomes reality. It was the most spectacular airborne assault ever. Parachutes flared from air and sea. They learned skill, courage. Superior equipment defeats the Japanese. Primitive and warlike, they won their loyalty. Through secret trails deep in the jungle they maintained isolated outposts. They get supplies and mail at a sluggish pace. They take long strides along the axis on a smooth, uninterrupted schedule. Converted into a staging area for the next leap, they deliver their punch. The grand design was making possible huge jumps, nearer to the Philippines, beyond the reach of land-based planes. Wrested from the enemy, they explode evermore relentlessly on. They were bypassed, cut off without hope. They came closer to the empire, under cloud of smoke. They knew the sting. A weird unreal atmosphere, a fever, a fraudulent picture enshrouds the people. Beneath the cheering oozes out the hideous truth. The ashes of the dead, they were no more. It was one never-ending night. 



14. 

His official train races to Rome. They sunk to the status of a satellite. They cheer and throng. They greet their overlord. They play a tune, applaud. They feel good. They are on parade. The grandeur debased and mocked its outward flamboyance. Its days were numbered. This is the twilight. They meet and plan under the scrutiny of His Majesty. 

There was no enemy action. A storm was waking up. It is too late to turn back. They sail into the tempest. They float along. They weather the storm. A forgotten kingdom, vigorous fighting, the broken ranks call it quits. Wind, waves, weather. Ships may founder, they climb aboard. This was its demise. They surrender. It’s over. Here is the scene of dissolution. Italy has fallen, yet the dominant half remains intact. Now the slaves, they send fresh troops. The next blow they have calculated correctly. They are waiting exactly four years after the beginning. They knock the first hole into the gulf of despair. They must slug it out. Close continuous support, it was a duel of cannons. The campaign hovers in the balance. Through the airwaves, thrown up from the sea, a new fearsome weapon: the remote control glider bomber. In the fog of battle they were christened in action, in fire. Destined to become a part of all amphibious operations, they exploded with a roar. The crucial counterattack. Skill and fury, almost split in two, driven off the beaches, what is he doing standing up? 

They have their port, ravaged by disease. Only a way-station on their weary march. It had a new and different meaning. The ruthless ruined it. They have it such as it is. The greatest salvage feat, they receive the avalanche of supplies. This was the reward for the ordeal. The flag goes up. It was a beautiful port. 

They stand entrenched, unmovable. They made a sweeping flanking attack, an end run, behind the flabbergasted Germans. They were checked by error. They dig in. They imprison them in a beachhead of steel. They fly to their rescue to slaughter the precarious invaders. Intended as a swift decisive strike, it resulted in incessant carnage, a long drawn-out nightmare. They fall down. They collapse. The young men are lost. In from the coast they stream together, lashed by victory, a swelling tide. A march to victory, destruction is the benediction. He was compelled to squander his forces. The price paid will be refunded. He and his age pass into history. One is sympathetic to these thoughts. North they go to fight again. They were just going to chew them up. They put up new maps and pictures. They cross themselves. They pray like heathens. 



15. 

They will invade the continent of Europe. The day must come. They committed themselves to the liberation. Their constant dream was to cross the channel. It was a noble code name. A year later they took up the task of piercing the heart of the ultimate barrier, the fortress, the rock-clad shores. There is no roof. That key unlocks the gate. They pound them into impotence. They’re blown to bits. They must finish what they began. 

It was an armed camp, a vast depot of armaments and supplies — locomotives, tractors, bags of rice, stores of ammunition. Lances were crossed. At the appointed hour a torrent will be set in motion southward to destiny. Driving trucks, pulling switches, towing cargo, rolling wheels, they step up. It is spring, the date has been set and the hour chosen. Sealed in ships for secrecy, they wait and keep ready. The king visits. The anchors are raised. The ships depart from different ports at varying intervals. 

Five beaches stretched 60 miles along the coast. It was too hazardous to succeed. Should he imperil the invasion? He orders them to France. It is etched in memory. There are crackups and casualties but they accomplish their mission, converging with precision. Unmolested on the beaches, they prepare for the assault. Naval guns open the western front. The invasion has begun. 

They have lost but hope to win. Some were left to destroy the invaders from the West. Artificial docks made of hollow blocks formed the piers. Few things are predictable. Some casualties are light, some are heavy, whichever way the battle turns. Each man must face his ordeal alone. They form a manmade harbor. When it might be too late, human ingenuity rises to the one all-important factor beyond human control. 

It was the worst storm in years. They hold the beaches. They build and broaden the timely arrival of the history of man. To keep in step on this invasion day, they hit rivals of old. He was now speaking from a tower. A barrier of bombs, every road and bridge was smashed, isolating the beaches. They go in and hang on by their guts. Resistance is furious. They help destroy them on the sands. They are bringing up the sick. The architects view their work. The swelling armies stream inland. Some kill to enslave the world. They died to free it. 



16. 

Beyond the reach of voices they speak. They were killers and they were killed. They decided the outcome of the war. Thousands were dead. He honors his high command. The reality supported him. He shakes their hands. Medals were squeezing out each drop of triumph. It was threatening collapse. They will be defeated everywhere. His pride had been his army. They fabricated parts that are rushed to shipyards for newer and more murderous models. Their doom is being sealed. A ring of bases has been forged with an umbrella, step by step, arc by arc. They spread their protection. Lanes reach out, area by area, breaking the morale of the U-boat crews. They divulge no secrets. They sweep the seas. 

They put more there but there is still a huge gap, a black pit. Bombs are dumped by the millions. Subs are destroyed before they can stalk the sea. Part of the answer to the challenge, their effort was diverted to a new class of ships. Their rigid tests progress simultaneously. Killing submarines, they coordinate beautifully. They learn to negotiate tiny, unstable flight decks. Small but tough, a new dimension has been added. They safely sail across the gap without fear of destruction. The enemy is being run down. The directing mind coordinates the best possible protection before the unified assault, the final basic component. The flag flies free. They steam to sea. 

Plotted in the research center, extraordinary instruments unified hunter-killer groups. They were linked to an exciting tale to tell, cruising off the Azores. They want to capture a sub. They are looking for trouble. Out goes the word. 

Everything is relaxed and routine. Inside the submarine, there is a surprise in store for them. Everything falls apart. They spot their target changing course below. They swoop down to mark the location. Deeper, deeper, there is no escape. A cluster of disaster, a fatal wound, they must die below or fight on the surface. They keep the crew under fire. The ancient order rings out: Abandon the ship! More determined sailors are captured on the high seas. No one wants to lie dead on the ocean floor. Defeated and helpless, their dream vanishes. The desperate, vicious struggle is over, the neutralization of their weapons making victory possible. 



17. 

In the twilight of peace in United States history, it was a forgotten stepchild. Under their guardianship life remained serene, unruffled. They plead in vain beyond the ugly face of war. Already bayonets cast lengthening shadows. They convene to plot the means, heavy with cunning history. A lesser known name is to be integrated into the plan. A pillbox without guns, they are hopelessly outnumbered. They are overwhelmed. Dead bodies float during the long night ahead in a cluster of deathtraps. Increasingly hard restrictions, harsh means of repression are secured and beyond reach. Incredibly, miraculously, the ebb gives way to a flow. Now the Japanese are doomed. The anguished cry, Hell is upon us! They inch forward, struggling for each yard of earth. 

They set out to crush the landing. Its position betrayed, its course plotted, brilliantly deployed, the battle is a slaughter, a route, a turkey shoot, the biggest single day’s bag, butchered. Their back is permanently broken. Beaten off, they set their sights for the grueling conquest. They do not surrender. They die. Last ditch defenders are blasted from caves or leap to death. The battered capital is liberated by blood. The last soldier is ferreted from his hiding place. Down from the hills they come. The weary and frightened and sick and feeble. He abandons the savagery of battle for what is hidden in his heart. 

On a mountain top they huddle. The ordeal is over, the shadow of perpetual fear. Now there is the rising from the ashes. New life. They saw and cook. The meaning has gone deep into their life. Their loyalty never wavered. The time has come. A flag rises above a church. In his gratitude, he does not forgot. The work of war must still be done. Deep inside they take over. Construction takes over from destruction. In a harbor dumped, without question the most potent advance base, the supermarket where the tools of war are stocked. After the final phase of war, in a noble bid in a remote rear area, they were equidistant from two objectives. A super abundance stretched across the vast reaches, stored and stacked and ready. Long range air attacks, the bases have been established. They take off for Tokyo. 



18. 

Seasoned men know that for everything there is an appointed time — a time to be cast away. The floating bodies drown. That is what the world knows. The true meaning of the official word is known only to them. With firm persistence, they conquer anew. In an attack of force, there is no limit. Rolling ahead, objectives were gained. Opposition was relatively light. 

They will never suffer the disgrace of being taken alive. Death in a gray land, a fatal climax, they are dreamers thinking of clean beds. They were forced to kill them in order to stay alive. They were broken up, immediately. Brought under fire, they were able to swim ashore. Minor oppositional gains were made on precipitous terrain. They remained well entrenched. They were rubbing old wounds. Certain elements, mopping up heavy fighting, continue driving the enemy from remaining positions. Brave and young, it will be the same and so forever until the forces of tyranny are overthrown. Then his dead body will heal and war will never be known. They suffered defeat and its means of survival. These are they who scream in pain. Their names speak of what help they can hold out in this hour of hardship. The manicured night of stars was wiped out. Elimination of the remnants continues. The difficult work of mopping up continues. He heard the sound of the people shouting. He heard the sound of singing. 






PART THREE 

19. 

Across the restless wilderness of water they come to answer the prayers of those who marched to death. It will start. “I am not at home here,” he thought. It was all out war, the most tempting target that was ever offered. They have long been waiting. They plan to cut off a limb, to perform a surgery. The tattered flag.is mustered for one final supreme battle. They confess they are torn in two, fatally crippled. It was a truly great, steady attrition. They had one superb supply of courage that they sired out of desperation. They were able to identify those ships that were stationed west. They discovered part of the converging navy. 

The Americans were alerted. They prepared their opening move. It was the greatest naval battle in history. They have pinpointed the Japanese. They find the central forces. They plan to sail through the strait. It was a southern course for slaughter. Strike and repeat! They say good luck. They can count on no help. The ships are by themselves. They throw up a wall of fire. Slashing attacks find their mark. The giant is sunk entirely by aircraft. They have been battered, mauled, wounded. They turn back. 

In battle array they lunge through the narrow water. The jaws of a trap are open. They put a stopper in the bottleneck, a floating dam. Strong in determination, he orders positions taken. They are trained to attack with speed, skill, and daring. In the fore they prepare to draw the first blood. All hands are tense, waiting. They roll the bombs through the door. They hurl themselves headlong into the dark. Detection gear picks up the signal. Searchlights dispel the night. A savage attack was throwing the enemy off balance. The bigger forces take up the fight. 

They rise from the muck in humiliation. They deliver. They take their vengeance under the guns. The debris litters mile after mile. They refuse to be rescued. There is no time for celebration. Unguarded, they turn again. 

They guard the approach. They are sighted by surprise. A bloody shambles, at first they are horrified by the thin line. They sacrifice themselves. The largest warship, with the world’s biggest guns afloat, it feels the full sting of the navy. They are straddled by the intrepid destroyers. They lay screens of smoke in one of their most frantic acts. In the war at sea, every plane joins the battle. They smash the reeling escort. The dauntless destroyers, scattering and confusing. They break off the fight. 

Far to the north, they answer the question steaming to the final threat. The task is suicidal. They are hopelessly outclassed. They will be sunk. That was their mission. Dummy messages are intercepted. They maneuver to receive the assault. Massive anti-aircraft fire. One breaks through to hit its mark with a single bomb. A fatal internal explosion. The decoy has worked. But far-flung fighting broke their forces, their finest ships died in vain. That dream is over. They sleep heedless of their destiny. 



20. 

It is late. A generation of guardianship, the time has come for complete independence. The Far East is in turmoil. They prepare to defend their freedom. A false calm shrouded them. Their fate was disaster. They lay dead on the floor. Their bones littered the harbor, in fire and agony extinguished. They take over. No church bells ring. Stripped of their power seemingly forever, they are vanquished. 

They perfect the grand design. No ocean had seen since man first went down to the sea in ships such a long arduous advance. Everything was focused on one thing. Who remembers the names of the beaches, towns, islands to be taken? Those who were there, who survived there. They bled there. They’re dragged away. Just chaos, pure chaos, burnt to a crisp. Springing up in the way, they challenge the remnants. Conveniently forgotten, striking home, these are the pillars that give way under the weight. Softened up, the prize of the campaign. Ten thousand times ten thousand, every gun pounds the shore, unlocking the backdoor. Jockeying for position for the fateful run, they sweep up with their “divine wind.” Terror reigns as kamikazes strike. Baffled and confused they cannot stop the flow. They greet the return. The road will be long, cruel and bitter. They slash more than halfway. Caught and demolished on the ground, they abandon the earth. 

War has always come and gone. They have an intention here. They are cheerful about it. It had ceased to be a civilized city. The design for ease and rest, another kind of game was being played. Death keeps the score. War block by block, room by room. The people flee. Devastation is a part of the price man must pay for freedom? they ask. The last resistance breaks. The battle flags are furled as sentimental images of the past. They were given rest. They fought to end conquest and quench the fire of war. 



21. 

It was the most complex and deadly ton for ton. No training was more rigid and intense. They were imprisoned in a hull of carbon steel in a grueling exercise of rigorous tests. Half will fail. 

These ships were built to cruise. They are named for fish, spawning killer fish. They were bound for battle with bold and skillful tactics. They dream of a perfect torpedo spread. They target tests and trials for a more efficient weapon. It was a happy boat with a character all its own. They were single-handed and alone. There will be no fanfare. Ordeals in obscurity will be their lot. 

More valuable than all their gold, their defense rests on a tiny strip of water. They squeeze through the locks. Electric “mules” join those who have gone before while live monkeys scamper in the trees. They suddenly depart. 

Ahead under the sun, down they drill and practice. They vanish completely as they go below. They have the best chow in the service. Small and cramped, they relax as best they can. Their moral is very high. They prepare to surface. They are rigged for diving. They cut across the waves. Peace stops where war begins. An emotion of men molded together with a common purpose. He remembers that and, seeing the havoc wrought, he directs a powerful force all over, everywhere. They inflict maximum damage. Gradual but incessant, their puncturing of the arteries through which flows the enemy’s life. They face a grim gamut, all hazardous, far from base. Missions from which there is no return. The threat of deaths in the depths. They find, chase, and sink. The immediate offensive is most dynamic, aimed at the heart of the industrial nation with skill and diligence. Every industry will be idled, bankrupted. The greatest industrial cities make war possible. 

They dampen the fires. Without the ore and coal the furnaces will grow cold and stop. Merely to exist, to maintain, to weld together, they need ships. The adrenaline flows in through the ports. The grubby routine of the waterfront was disrupted. The big ships, big factories. No bugles blow, no bands play. They keep them alive. The plunder pours in, the stuff of life itself. Everywhere they sail hugging the shores of foreign seas. 

A major objective. The freighters, the transports. They ring the bell and ratchet it up. Ddddddd ddddddddd ddddddddddd ddddd dddddddd ddddddd ddd. Another one down. Quick on the draw, down into the darkness, blanketing the entire area, more agonizing and gruesome, it is a time for stout hulls and hearts. Frightened faces back in action, back to attack. The debris washes ashore. The men tell of the mounting toll of their disaster. They never reached the front. Overdue, they are presumed lost. Their contribution is second to none. The flags fly proudly. 



22. 

Their hearts were light and gay. After three years of defeat, they showed their talons of steel. They fall on their flanks. They burn their own city, preparing the way for their own fleet. Nothing stops the relentless wave. They splash and run under the sun. Their dinghies are light. Charge! They creep ahead. The myth of invincibility crumbles. They tasted the bitterness of the Slavic wastes and foundered on the Russian steppes. They forge ahead. It was a city of sieges, a vital landmark. They now serve another. In the aftermath is heartbreak. The heaps of innocently murdered hostages are monuments to their inhumanity. Hammering in the West finds an echo in the East. 

They begin to drown. In the hard-won harbor they gather. They are struggling to contain them. Catapults of the seaborne invasion, they carry them to French soil. The armada sails unhindered. A playground in time of peace joins the troops. Inland they fight. They’re back again after a national eclipse. They could not comprehend the light in the hearts of the truly free. History keeps pace. They will lie still before the fate of Europe is sealed. 

A little known resort, cloaked in secrecy. A new name was added to history. They thunder to a climax. He presides over the meetings. Open and secret, they sow the seeds of controversy.  

It was a new and even more powerful blow. They look above. Since time began along its banks, it was a fateful river. Their heart lies open to a fault. They released a whirlwind and reaped defeat. They were consumed in their own flames. The people pay the price. All the symbols lie shattered. Gone are the armies. They set out to ravage and destroy. Old scores remain, the names change. It was the last convulsive order of a dying effort. They were fed to the furnace of war. It was a short march to captivity for the lucky ones. The end comes, the death rattle. They sputter out in unconditional surrender. The mighty fallen, they tear the flag to pieces. The greatest of legacies. 



23. 

One of the great cities, objective number one. They bring war to the makers of war. They shatter and destroy. Even more critical to a country, hurricanes of flame, rough, tough, their incessant sweeps. The distance means death without a haven midway. Wounded they owe their lives to it. It was the essential island. A different war had to be waged in a twilight zone.  

Only a fraction fired a shot. For most it was monotony. Day after day they sort and sweat. What’s your issue? they say. They load and carry. Bobbing apathetically, island tied to island, they play a dreary role, which demanded that they do this and that. It was like a beautiful babe, exotic, magic, fragrant, a land of mystery and romance. They became something else again. Beer and baseball. Jive and jazz. They hoisted a few. 

Task groups gather more fire, more blood. They continually move off towards the destiny of history, the eye of fire. There were other terrors to face. An angry sea. Terrible typhoons. Wallowing through the waves. A tattered flag. The jungle grows. The only place in the world where they slog in mud and dust blows in their eyes. One thing was certain: worst of all lay ahead. The voyage was long. They lie awake all night and pace the deck. Reeking volcano ash, a ring around the tiny island, a continuous unbroken barrage. It was the most concentrated of the war. We can hit ‘em hard, he said, and they do. They surround the island with chaos. Finally they land. They had little choice. Dug deep in formidable defenses, they were impregnable against bombardment. They have to use sheer force of arms. From the dominant caves an avalanche came threatening obliteration. Winged sailors fly to their aid. By character and courage, more Americans spill in. By a bloody bookkeeping, one who dies today saves five tomorrow. It towers up. They unfurl their standard. 



24. 

Called by history blood and steel, they began to execute the plan. The people fleeing their homes, they slash at the vast unyielding body. The people will not be subdued. They have no organized armies only one forbidding weapon. They destroy everything in the invader’s path. Surrounded only by the torched earth, they cut out the heart of the country. There will be war in the world tomorrow. 

They drag the heavy boat along. A million refugees crowd the roads. Beyond the reach, landlocked away in the midst of Asia, a mass migration. The sole access lies southward. A road is built, help and life. To isolate China completely they must absorb Siam. They succumb gracefully and legalize the union. They burst across the border, severing a vital link. These they shall not have. They were deafened by the sound of their own guns. 

The wind was in the palm trees. They plan their return. They will direct a campaign. He marshals their sea power. They pool their warships. It became a focal point in the world’s communication system. They keep the sea lanes open, making slight adjustments. They prowl an ever-constant threat. It’s more than they can do to cope. There are submarines to spare. Water floods the hold. Ha ha ha ha, they laugh at death. They blow them up. Across three vast oceans the supplies for victory demand and consume millions. Only what can be spared from its arsenal, they fly a portion. The overwhelming mass is the toughest problem. A ramshackle railroad was the easy link. They hack a road out of the jungle. Man must wait on weather, paralyzing torrents of rain. Mud and blood. 

A truly cosmopolitan army, the campaign begins late. Disease is spread by germs and insects. Hunting and stalking, sudden alarm by day, terror by night. Behind the combat, the conquered jungle. The road begins to creep across. Boats are hewn out of the forest and criss-cross wide, tumultuous rivers. They move forward. The men, the road, the pipe. They spew forth, decimated in the jungles. The roads built, challenged and beaten back they come. Meanwhile an enormous artery pumps an infusion of gas and oil in the open road, bearing relief. Rolling in endless procession up and down the roads, they join hands. 



25. 

He wrote a poem. Most of the world wants to know graceful patterns people arranged. In a remote feudal age, a worship of the nation, they belonged to the east and beat their gongs. He received homage. He seeks domination. The long arm reaches out to throttle those who oppose it. They hardly dared hope. It was strange, ominous. The same old will to destroy, slow, deadly, savage struggle. Branded by great battles, the smoldering beacon. The harsh, intolerable truth: the sun is setting. 

Harnessed to the war machine they stand firm. They march in the rain. One group is left. It was a military tactic. They believe the sacred, flying off forever. Farewell to the life they leave behind. Valiantly the young eagles follow a path that will take them away. Scores of ships were destined to fall. The long-wracking, nerve-shattering “If it be now, it will come,” the self-destroying frenzy, a duel they fight to live and stay. Ships with famous names were under the greatest threat. The suffering is terrible. It’s a fantastic contest around the clock. They fight to die, the opportunity they had waited for. Blasts in the air. He was doing what he was trained to do. The flag waving in the wind. The risks of death are great. Hemmed in by flames, they escape over the sides. A beloved commander is dead. He loved the sea. The elements mixed in him. The land collapsed. This last battle was one of the greatest. 



26. 

It was designed for peace, the bomb from a single gram of matter. Its explosion is vast. A city dies as an age is born. Life becomes death. Two bombs and the war is over. The goal they set, their course is final. They reconstitute. They surrender fully, completely. They are spared many casualties. The first fruits of victory. They survived the limits of endurance. Their skeletal figures remain for the living. A return to life in strange lands under foreign skies. Benevolent are those who have waited for those who have suffered. They end the long long odyssey passed the shattered symbols, the past of junk and debris. The word is flashed. The final act is staged. The allies’ power. They salute the flag. He directs them to sign. He ends his days. All that blood and horror. 

One condition, he proclaims a new day. They determine their own destiny, set their own course. They bow politely. They present flowers. They gaze vaguely. The sound of guns has ceased. Innocent victims do not forget scars on the conscience of mankind. 

They unlocked to liberate. Now the locks were broken. They had inflicted the greatest indignity on man. Now they unbare their guns. Man is the human cost. No words can describe his lowest depths. To the dead, the broken words have lost meaning. 

Everything means hope. They kiss and hug. “My sweet boy.” Earmarked for further combat, they were home again. From where war began, it was a magic carpet ride. The prospect ahead, across the balmy seas, the undercurrent of chill. The dirty job is over as cares are cast aside. 

They sang the song of all seas, for the soul of man, token of all brave captains, a pennant universal for all brave sailors on ships. They bring them back by the millions. Into the big cities they sail. The little birds sing. It was a troop ship of unparalleled proportions. A thousand balloons float in the sky. “Oh my god, I can’t believe you're home!” The wonderful joy. Off they go. 

Only time has its own pattern for the future. Who together conquered, they march along to rise from the struggle that has passed. In peace, good will. 


THE END

— January-February 2009
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