The mixed unit led by Colonel Perez had been holding the Romelle bridge for six days since D-Day began. The unit was composed of men from the various units 101st Airborne and 82nd Airborne divisions, part of the misdrops.
The fact that only six men from his stick were with him was a dim and distant memory as far as Corporal Johnnie Rico was concerned. He had a four man patrol under him and he was leading them around the edge of a meadow of tall grass and flowers. The only man from his stick with him was the unit sniper, nineteen year old William Mason of West Virginia.
PFC Charlie Dale of Minnesota, 82nd Airborne, was behind Rico, carrying the bazooka along with his M1 Thompson submachinegun. Rico, on point, took one hand off his M1 Carbine and raised it. The four men hunkered down in the grass as the sound of a vehicle was heard. Rico raised his head a tad and saw a German halftrack going through the field. He tapped Charlie Dale on the back, who nodded, raised his bazooka and fired.
The rocket struck the engine housing squarely, exploding, and causing flames to fan out over the hood. Mason was first to pick off the German machinegunner atop the halftrack with a shot to the head with his Springfield M1903A4 rifle with telescopic sights.
Six Germans clambered out of the burning wreckage of the halftrack and Rico and Charlie Dale opened up on them, Dale emptying an entire magazine into the Germans, killing four of them with Rico bagging the other two with his carbine.
"Search them for intelligence and lets get back to base." Rico said.
Dale and Mason searched the bodies finding documents and Dale was placing a Hitler Youth knife onto his combat webbing.
They returned to base to find it being pounded by 88mm cannons towed into position by German vehicles. "Down damn it!" said Corporal McDowell, motioning Rico's patrol into a slit trench.
The bombardment was causing nerves to rattle through the unit. PFC Eddie Caparzo was hunkered down next to McDowell. Caparzo's heart appeared to be threatening to burst its way out of his ribcage.
It was then that a shell went off, not more than three meters from where Charlie Dale was crouched. The shock had just about paralyzed him with terror about how close that shell had came.
The shelling continued like this for almost an hour until the German gunners ceased firing, awaiting ammunition. Soon an eerie quiet descended on the men. It was so quiet that they could hear the sound of footsteps.
Rico leveled his carbine at the noise, it was coming from behind them. Lieutenant Jean Razak, another member of their stick, was standing before him with two other soldiers, one from the 82nd, the other a man from a colored regiment with a red cross armband.
"Doc LeCroix," said the black man, extending one hand to Rico, who shook it, "medic. Where are the wounded?"
Rico led them to a clutch of walking wounded, and Doc began his minstrations.
"Who else is here?" said Razak.
"Caparzo, McDowell, Brutto, Mason, Gossard and Vargas, sir." said Rico.
"Who's your CO?" said Razak.
"Colonel Perez, 82nd Airborne, he patched us into a mixed unit sir." said Rico, shouldering his carbine.
There was another call, "Someone's coming." said Gossard, training his BAR on the source of movement.
"Don't shoot." came out,a female voice in French. Gossard lowered his BAR.
"Does anyone here speak French?" said Razak.
"I do, sir." said McDowell.
"Tell her to show herself and ask her if she speaks english." said Razak.
McDowell obeyed and the woman showed herself. She was young, auburn haired, about twenty six or twenty seven years of age, and she was carrying a stolen Schmeisser MP-40 submachinegun, behind her was a young man, maybe sixteen or seventeen, also similarly armed.
The woman replied, "Anne Marselle, French Resistance. Who is in command here?"
McDowell looked to Razak, who nodded, "Colonel Perez, 82nd Airborne."
"Paratroopers." she said, knowingly.
"Rico, got get Perez here." said Razak.
"Yes sir." said Rico.
Colonel Perez came in with Rico in tow, "Colonel," said the Resistance fighter, "We have news of a German buildup just outside of the town."
"Strength?" said Perez.
"We weren't able to get an exact count, Pierre," she said, indicating the young man standing a few steps behind her, "says he saw at least two Tiger tanks, we were unable to count all the infantry."
"Oui monseur." said Pierre.
"We will attempt to delay the German attack long enough for you to prepare as best you can." said Marselle.
"There must be a way to gather some intelligence while your at it." said Perez, "I'll send two of my men with you."
"Colonel, I can't ask you to do that. We've been fighting the Germans for years, we can take care of it, we will return to you." said Marselle. As she turned to leave, Pierre said something.
"What did he say?" said Perez.
"He says good luck to you, Screaming Eagles." said McDowell, and with a wry grin, he added, "You aren't even part of the 101st sir."