No One Ever Left Behind

Christopher Mathai

© Copyright 2018 by Christopher Mathai


Photo of a WW II American soldier.

JOURNAL 18: “We stormed the beaches of Normandy and have begun our push into the Nazi heartland. We’ve traveled through France and made it about 100 miles from the gates of  Germany. Our platoon is currently stationed in an abandoned town that we found on the way. I read a damaged sign in the front of the town and figured out that the name of it is Dolfenberg.
I’ve been with my squad for a few weeks already and I’ve already started assessing each of them.
First, Captain Hudson, the one who tells us what we have to do. He’s on the more aggressive side and has the ambition to complete the objective, no matter the cost. Next, Sergeant Pierson, our medic who’s also the second in charge. If anything happens to Hudson, he’s the one that takes the leading role. Then it is Private Washington, who is a private just like me, and is getting his first experience of battle right now. He struggles with the anxiety of not knowing what happens next. Finally, Corporal Sanchez, the friend of Captain Hudson. I guess they both lived in Fresno, California and knew each other for years. Well, I better get going now, Hudson’s gonna kill me if I’m not there in a minute.”
Private David Campbell quickly closed his journal and put it in his inner pocket. “DAVID GET OVER HERE!” bellowed Hudson.

Sorry, I’m here now,” David replied, seeing the frustration barely hiding under Hudson’s face.

Now that everyone’s here, I can finally start talking,” Hudson said glaring at David. “Our mission is to infiltrate German camp 10 miles east of here. We have orders to silently take the camp in order to not attract enemy reinforcements and to sabotage their artillery weaponry”

Why can’t we just go guns blazing on them with multiple platoons? Our superior numbers would destroy them before any reinforcements come,” wondered Washington.

Just listen to what the Captain says man! He’s been in many missions and I can tell you 90% of them were a success,” answered Sanchez.

Alright then, time to do the dirty work,” replied Washington.

The squad then separated for a few minutes to load up and gather the things they needed. David took his M1 Garand, knife, a silenced M1911, and the small Bible that he always carried around. He said a small prayer and noticed that all of his squad was doing the same thing. For any parts of the war, all people had was faith that they would get through it. The war was long and changed the lives of those who survived it.

Ok everybody, let’s go! Better to get this over with now than later,” yelled Hudson.
The squad marched briskly along a half-destroyed side road because they did not want to be seen by enemy spotters. About three hours later, when they were about half a mile away from the camp, the platoon stealthily made their way to a small hilltop so they could see the camp below them. Hudson, Pierson, and David pulled out their army issue binoculars to examine
where to infiltrate the camp from. Suddenly they all heard someone moaning. It was Sanchez and he was grabbing his stomach. 

Uhhhh,” moaned Sanchez. “I feel really sick all of a sudden.” 

For crying out loud! What happened now?” whispered Pierson. 

Can you get through it?” asked Hudson.

I don’t think so, I feel feverish combined with sharp pain like someone is kicking me in
the stomach right now,” said Sanchez slowly.

Well, I don’t think there’s any turning back now,” added Washington. 

No, but there has to be a way we can sort this out,” replied Hudson. 

The only one that didn’t say anything was David, because he was looking around him to find a solution. A minute later he saw the burnt ruins of a half-bombed house and said, “What if we hide him in that house over there while we execute the mission and collect him when we come back?” The rest of the platoon looked at each other and slowly began to nod in agreement.  So that is what the platoon decided to do. They found a small corner room in the ruin that was mostly intact and also put a few boxes and other debris in front of Sanchez so he was not visible.  Hudson gave Sanchez a field radio just in case anything happened to him or the group. 

The group carried on with their mission and were very efficient when disabling the heavy artillery of the German camp. All of them used their M1911’s to be as silent as possible while eliminating the German sentries. Once they cleared the camp, Hudson used his radio to contact some of the troops in Dolfenberg. After about 45 minutes, some Allied troops arrived to secure the camp and to relieve the platoon. 

Wait, we need to rescue Sanchez from that house,” said David. 

Oh right, I almost forgot about that,” replied Hudson.The four told the soldiers that were with them what they were doing and went back to the ruins where they had previously hidden Sanchez. “Sanchez, it’s me, David, we’re back,” yelled David but there was no reply. Washington moved the boxes aside and saw that there was no one there. The only thing that remained was the field radio that Hudson had left with him. For a few minutes, no one said a word and an ominous silence surrounded the platoon as they considered the worst possible outcomes for their platoon member and friend.

We have to try to find him, we can’t leave anyone behind,” pleaded David.

So, we’re just gonna risk our lives to maybe find someone that’s probably dead by now?” snarled Pierson.

It’s better to have four of us return back to the base right now than to have possibly all of us get killed trying to find one person,” added Washington. 

Stop, both of you! David’s right, we can’t just leave him, he’s a human just like all of us. Think about others for a change! If you were Sanchez right now I think all of you would trust each other to come to your rescue. I know we aren’t the closest of friends and have only known each other for only a few weeks, but all we have out here is each other. God brought us all

together for a special reason and we have to embrace each other as friends and brothers in arms.  We are going to find Sanchez because we never leave anyone behind.”

There was a moment of silence before Pierson and Washington realized their folly and agreed to find Sanchez. Meanwhile, Sanchez was in a very sticky situation while the group was debating to find him or not. The reason why Sanchez left the house was because he heard a group of Germans marching towards him. He quickly got out of the house and tried to get away.  Sanchez then realized that he was going to be surrounded by Germans. There was a small clock tower a hundred feet away from him and he decided that he would hide in the tower until the Germans passed through the area. He climbed the tower and then found a way through a blocked off area that led to the top of the tower. Sanchez then became very tired due to his fever and fell asleep. 

Sanchez woke up to the sounds of the German language being spoken from somewhere below him. He peered out of a small window on the top of the tower and was shocked to see Germans walking all around the tower and machine gun nests already planted nearby. Sanchez remembered the radio that Hudson had given him for emergencies and looked desperately in his pocket, but was horrified to realize that he had forgotten it in the other house. For a few minutes, he panicked and thought of what he should do. He then saw a big glass shard from a shattered mirror on the dusty floor. He quickly grabbed the mirror and decided that he would try and signal his team using Morse Code with the reflection of the light from the glass. The code word that he would transmit was Fresno because he and Hudson lived there. 

Meanwhile, the rest of the platoon began looking for Sanchez. The platoon split up with Hudson and Washington going one way while David and Pierson went another. They searched for a few hours when suddenly David noticed the flashing light from the clock tower. He wondered what it meant since he did not have a clear understanding of Morse Code. Pierson knew a little bit, figuring out that the first letter was an F. David pulled out his field radio and said, 

“Capt. Hudson, this is David, we think we found something important. Our location is approximately 285 East on top of the hill. Over.”

Copy that. we are heading to you. Over,” replied Hudson. Hudson and Washington came over to David and Pierson’s position about 20 minutes later. Hudson examined the light pattern and declared that it said, FRESNO.

That has to be him,” said a relieved Washington.

How are we going to get him out of there? That place is swarmed with Nazi’s,” asked Pierson.

The camp we infiltrated had artillery shells, we’re going to use one of the big shells, detonate it in the opposite direction that we are heading, and quickly grab Sanchez.”, ordered Hudson.

I’ll go and get Sanchez, it’s better to have anything happen to me than to all of us.”, declared David. 

I’m going to tell the guys at the camp that I need a large caliber shell and then we can get started. Good luck, David,” replied Hudson.

The three members of the platoon waited for about an hour before Capt. Hudson came back.  David crept down the hill and close to the camp. He took the Bible out of his pocket and put it in his jacket in front of his heart and prayed, “Whatever I do right now is for the Lord,”. He waited a few minutes until he heard a deafening blast from the explosion behind the tower. The second he saw the German sentries screaming and running towards the decoy bombing thinking it was an attack, he sprinted towards the tower. He saw that the bottom of the tower was clear of any Nazis and started sprinting up the steps, three at a time. He made his way to the section that Sanchez blocked off and yelled for him to open it. Sanchez moved the barricade and they both ran out of the tower. David told Sanchez to go to the platoon first so he could protect him from the rear. While they were running, a German soldier saw the two running and fired his pistol. David cried in pain as he was shot in the back and had to be half dragged up the hill. The next thing he could remember hearing were the cries of many American troops rushing towards the tower and firing on the Germans.

David woke up to a medic and his assistant standing over him.

Well, our hero made it through,” said the doctor. 

What happened to me, where am I, and where’s my platoon?”, asked David

Your platoon is still fighting the retreating enemy, young man. while you were out for the last 2 days, you were rewarded the Medal of Honor for saving your platoon member, congratulations,” replied the doctor.
David’s recovery took quite a long time due to the severe injury to his spine. Many now looked at him as an American war hero and respected him for his selfless act of heroism and sacrifice. Many years later when the war ended, he was reunited with his platoon and they formed a lifelong friendship that was intended for them. David rescuing Sanchez actually helped
the Allies significantly push into the Nazi Heartland as his story of loyalty and courage inspired the weary Allied soldiers to persevere against all odds. Many heroes like David are found in our world, whether they are in the military or in everyday civilian life. There is never a reason to forget, abandon, or leave a person behind because they are humans just like anyone else and deserve unconditional caring.


My name is Christopher Mathai and I am a high school sophomore in Watsonville CA. I enjoy reading, sports and travel.

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