“Pop” Hunter

“Zero hour. Dawn of 6 June 1918. Hushed commands brought the chilled, sleepy men to their feet. A skirmish line formed along the edge of the woods. There were last-minute instructions and bits of advice flung here and there. Careless of cover, the men in the first wave stood about in the wheat, adjusting belts and hitching combat packs to easier positions. The early morning mist thinned under the warmth of a red-balled sun. There were half-heard murmurs of conversation among the men and, at time, a spurt of nervous laughter, quickly stilled. The entire front was quiet where we were. There was only the distant sound of far-off guns warning the lines to come awake.”

“First Sergeant “Pop” Hunter , the 67th Company’s top-cutter, strode out into the field and, a soldier to the last, three a competent glance to right and left, noting the dress of his company line. Pop was an old man, not only of portly figure and graying hair but in actual years, for more than thirty years of service lay behind him.”

World War I Marine 001“No bugles. No wild yells. His whistle sounded shrilly. Once. His cane swung overhead and forward, pointing toward the first objective a thousand yards of wheat away; the tensely quiet edge of German-held Belleau Wood.”

“The spell was broken. A single burst of shrapnel came to greet the moving line of men. There was a scream of pain, a plaintive cry of hurt. In some alarm, a soldier yelled, “Hey Pop, there’s a man hit over here!”

“Pop’s reply was terse and pungent: “C’mon, goddammit! He ain’t the last man who’s gonna be hit today.”

Elton E. Mackin
Suddenly We Didn’t Want to Die

Note:
First Sergeant Daniel A. Hunter from Westerly, Rhode Island: Killed in Action, 6 June 1918.

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