The Germans had positioned many anti-aircraft guns in the hills along and above the Rhine Valley. Our tanks couldn’t be sent over until we silenced these weapons on the hills above us. By morning, the second wave made it over so we were given the job of marching around a small bend in the river. I don’t think it was much more than a mile but it was a bend in the river, a kind of peninsula. We were on the far side of the peninsula and the second wave was on the near side of the peninsula.
When we were in position, the two elements of the rifle company were to attack the hills. We marched around the bend with the riflemen and were in position by noon – could be a little earlier than that. We received an order to assemble on the roadway, which we did. While we were standing there on the road, I was talking to another sergeant saying something like, “This is a hell of a situation,”-referring to our standing there out in the open. The next thing I remember was being on the ground and having difficulty turning over. Then I remember a couple of fellows trying to pick me up and cursing in exasperation. I am sure I weighed at least 170 pounds. There were no handles on me and I was sagging and wasn’t cooperating in any way with their efforts. In any case, they got me back to a house, put me on a door, and took me into another house where I was picked up by the medics and taken to a field hospital. I heard no shot and felt no invasion of my body. I was hit by shrapnel from a 20mm cannon (an antiaircraft shell). I believe I still have it among my souvenirs. It is about an inch long and about a quarter-inch wide with a curve like the head of a bullet.
I was hit on March 25th, which is the Feast of The Annunciation in the Roman calendar (the celebration of the conception of Jesus). It was also the day on which Maryland was formally inaugurated. I cannot help noting the date, and if it has any significance for me, it is the vague sense that I have something important to achieve although I have no clue as to what that might be.