When the shelling started every man ran for his life, ran for his foxhole, ran for a bunker if he could make it. Some were caught in the open, torn apart, vaporized if one of the eighteen inch guns hit them, merely shredded if a smaller caliber shell landed close. Some lost legs, arms, and screamed as they lay waiting for the next barrage to finish them. Sometimes help would arrive, a buddy would rush out from safety, and sometimes he was killed, too. But the wounded might get dragged into a hole and bleed out.
Our ships arrived. The battle raged from noon until past dark, when the flashes of light from the guns, and the orange colored comets passing in the sky passed back and forth, the shells either landing in water, never to be seen, or hitting their target in an awful sound, and fire. More ships joined in, and then suddenly it seemed the burning vessels, flashes of light, the sound of thunder from the guns, was all there was, or would be. Exhaustion took me, after being awake for three days straight, I slept.
The next morning brought a gray sky, overcast, and dark. Bodies lay where they landed, pieces of men were scattered kindling for the next battle, hatred gripped us all, and the constant fear. The sea spat out survivors in rafts, ours, theirs, burned men who only spoke the language of agony waved blackened limbs at us, and begged for death. Bodies floated in masses, platoons of dead, face down, or staring eyeless at the heavens. Dozens, in pairs, one at a time, but the tide brought them in, and I wondered how many more had gone down inside burning ships, or drifted out into the endless sea.
The radios were silent. Not our signals, not theirs, not a sound except the sea, and the wounded. We ran out of morphine quickly, and then, there was nothing but pain, and screaming. No planes flew overhead, no silhouettes of fear or hope on the horizon. Nothing but the heat and the gray skies, and the sounds of the men whose bodies demanded some relief.
We buried men in the sand with the bulldozer until the fuel ran out, and then we buried men with shovels until we were too tired. Then we burned bodies until the smell was too much. Finally, exhausted and hungry, we sat and waited. For what, and how long, we did not know. Nothing was left to do, no one left to kill, and waiting to die seemed to be better than anything else possible.
We sighted ships a week later. Our ships? Their ships? We could not tell and could not care. As they drew near the earth itself rolled, pitched, and heaved as if trying to vomit the dead from their graves. Bunkers collapsed, trees, what few were left, toppled, and we lay in the sand as if it were a solid sea of waves.
As the ships drew closer and closer, we saw something else, too. A white line on the horizon behind them, at first small, then larger and larger. The ships turned, tried to outrun the wave, but they saw it too late. One by one we watched them flipped, overturned, or plain submerged outright as the water grew higher and higher and higher. Men ran, screamed, prayed, cried, but I sat on the beach and watched. The water retreated, was sucked away from the island for half a mile. Our antiship defenses lay open to the gray sky, the last time they would be.
The wave came rushing, one hundred feet high, and I sat, waited, and made no sound.