By Don R. Marsh

    It is always the coldest just before daybreak, that particular morning it was even colder than I could ever recall. The coldness of my feet troubled me almost as much as my hands, as my fingers were already numb from holding my gun at the ready.

    I nervously chambered a round and clicked off the safety catch. Now it was wait time. Waiting for the expected moment of decision when to pull the trigger, hoping I wouldn't flinch from the expected muzzle blast and the stock toe slamming into my shoulder. Just trying to suppress the overanxious feeling became taxing. The adrenaline began pumping as the long awaited action was about to begin. We crouched in silence waiting for the first shot to be fired. Coping with the frigid temperature meant stamping my feet in the cold boots to maintain circulation.

    My buddy Larry wise-cracked, "Don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes!" I thought he's nuts if he thinks I'm going to sit and wait until they get that close. Their scouts were approaching as we all strained in the semi-darkness to pick up the leaders. The word was passed not to begin shooting until they were well within range. As I pressed my cheek to the ice-cold stock, the misty vapors from my rapid breathing momentarily clouded the rear sight blotting out the front sight.

    I found myself repeatedly double checking to make sure that I had clicked the safety off to avoid that gut-wrenching feeling of pulling the trigger and having nothing happen.

    Patience was never one of my virtues and at the last moment I leaped to my feet and fired at the leaders. Then all hell broke loose. Firing erupted all around me and the odor of cordite quickly filled the air. Off to my right, the others were firing too. Soon I could hear lead whizzing overhead from the cross fire.

    I fired off all my initial rounds and quickly reloaded to resume shooting at the fleeing silhouettes. The barrel grew too hot to touch and suddenly as it began it became quiet as the firing died out. Over the ringing in my ears, I could barely hear the others' voices as we vacated our camouflaged holes to count the kill. Our small group were all "old-timers" and rather nonchalant about their achievements that morning.

    The sun was rising on the start of another good hunt day at our private hunting club near the Salton Sea in Southern California.

This article was published in the 2nd Armored Division Association Bulletin in 1985 and in the 3rd Armored Division Association Newsletter in March 2001.

Publication or reproduction, in part or whole, is prohibited without written permission from the author, Don R. Marsh. All rights remain the sole property of The Marsh Family Trust.