Captain Harrington and Miller made their way down to the jungles edge, while the other men gathered Palm leaves and jungle foliage to cover a small depression they had found in the jungle.
“Miller, I want you to head in that direction and see if you can find anything, I’ll head this way. Be careful of where you are, walk only near the waters edge, remember this island could have Japanese on it, and make sure you cover up any footprints, I’ll meet you back here. Now get going and be careful.”
“Yes sir,” said Miller as he headed off down the beach, keeping to the water’s edge as he was instructed.
Captain Harrington went down to the surf line, walking in the water as much as he could, always looking and listening for any signs of the Japanese, ready at any moment to drop into the water if he should see any. After searching along the southern part of the island Captain Harrington returned to where Mr. Vandel and the men where hiding.
“He hasn’t returned yet, sir.”
Miller returned about 20 minutes later, his face showing both fear and excitement.
“Did you see anything?” the Captain asked.
“Japanese sir, about 50 of them on the other side of the island, they have a gunboat too.”
“We’ll have to be careful with moving around and have to post a lookout,” explained the Captain. “They’re sure to send out patrols.”
The sun had just risen a few points above the horizon as Captain Harrington stood alone near the jungle’s edge, looking through his binoculars at the nearby island to the west, searching for a way across the reef and looking for any signs that the Japanese were on the other island.
“??????, ?????.” the Japanese solider commanded as he pointed his rifle at Captain Harrington.
“Agggh!!” the solider groaned as Miller’s knife slowly twisted in his back, Miller withdrew his knife and plunged it in again as the soldier folded over and slumped to the ground. Miller grabbed the dead Japanese’s rifle and bayoneted him again and again.
“Stop it,” said Captain Harrington. “Stop it!!”
Miller continued his frenzied bayoneting of the lifeless body.
“Stop it!!” Captain Harrington said again, grabbing the rifle, stopping Miller from stabbing the man anymore. Both men stood motionless looking into each others eyes. Hatred for the Japanese was all that could be seen on Miller’s face.
“Ain’t dead enough for me. The only good Jap is a dead Jap,” slurred Miller as he let go of the rifle and wandered back into the jungle.
“Got a real thing against the Japanese don’t he?” said Mr. Vandel as he walked up to Captain Harrington.
“His younger brother was killed at Pearl, after that he tried to join the Marines, but his lungs were bad, so now he’s with me. A good man, but he has a mean streak when it comes to the Japanese.”
“We’re going to have to leave you know.”
“Yep, we should be able to cross over to that island during the night,” Captain Harrington said without any emotion.
“Uhh sir, I wanted to talk to you about Scot.”
“How is he?”
“No change sir, I was wondering if maybe we shouldn’t leave him here. The Japanese have doctors and can take care of him better than we can.”
“No!! I’ve heard how the Japanese take care of their prisoners, they’d just cut his throat and be done with him. He stays with us, until…until we’re rescued. Lets have no more talk of leaving anybody behind.”
“Yes sir, your right.”
First Officer Vandel returned into the jungle to tend to Scot. Down the beach Peterson come running excitedly from where he had been searching among the rocks for crabs, waving his arms and running as fast as he could.
“Sir, sir,” Peterson breathlessly shouted. “Ships sir.” Pointing to the north.
“It’s a convoy,” Captain Harrington said as he looked through his binoculars. “Looks like a couple of Battleships with some Cruisers.”
“Are they ours?”
“Can’t tell yet, too far away, get the men together and have them stay put.”
“Yes sir,” Peterson said as he made his way towards their hiding place.
The steel gray giants of the American Pacific fleet cruised around the tiny island in an ever tightening circle, finally stopping to the north of the island at about 5 miles distance. Just before dawn the next day, the great guns on the Battleships and Cruisers opened fire on the island. The ground shook as each shell landed, with palm trees exploding and fire balls of destruction landing everywhere on the island. The men of the Lady Eva huddled together in their tiny dugout space, hoping that their luck would hold out for just a little longer. The bombardment lasted well over an hour, leaving the tiny island almost without a single Palm tree standing. Grey-black smoke filtered through the remains of the jungle and an eerie quiet settled over the destroyed jungle, only the crackling of burning Palms broke through the stillness. As landing craft made for the beaches, the drone of diesel engines filled the air.
Young fearless Marines scrambled out of the landing crafts as soon as the ramps came down, firing their machine guns wildly into the remains of the jungle. Mortar shells and rifle fire from the remaining Japanese garrison stuck down the Marines as they rushed up the beach and into the jungle. The Marines fired at anything that moved, then used grenades and flamethrowers to flush out the hidden Japanese. Captain Harrington and his men listened as the sounds of battle grew nearer and nearer to them, each man barely breathing, trying not to make any sound that may give them away. Captain Harrington cautiously peered between the Palm leaves that covered their small hiding space, he then slowly dug his way out. He didn’t make any sudden moves as he stood there with his hands raised.
“Don’t shoot, don’t shoot. We’re Americans,” he shouted to the two nearby Marines that he had seen coming towards them.
“Well I’ll be…where’d you come from?” asked the young Private. “Hey Sergeant, looky here what I found.”
Hours later, First Officer Vandel and Captain Harrington sat together on a cargo hatch of the hospital ship USS Refuge, each wrapped in a blanket, Captain Harrington staring down into his empty coffee cup.
“You know, no one could have done better than you did Captain. You got us all to safety.”
Captain Harrington kept his head down giving no indication that he had heard Mr. Vandel, he just slowly turned the coffee cup in his hands.
“You did it.”
“I think I’ll go down and see how Scot is doing,” Captain Harrington said as he stood up. “Forty men, forty men,” Captain Harrington muttered silently as he disappeared down the gangway…………..