Crashing at War By Thomas Munson

The engine of the P-51 Mustang hummed. Pilot Christopher Benedikt peered out across the German countryside, admiring the evergreens, the rolling hills, and the large open farming pastures. This land has not yet been touched by the harsh realities of the second world war. The sky is covered with an abundance of clouds brushed across the gray morning sky, and the sun is just starting to rise over the mountains. Christopher looked behind him to admire the photograph of his wife and two children. He turned back around and continued to look out across the landscape.

As Christopher started to doze off, he was immediately awoken with violent shakes of the fighter plane. There was flak exploding all around the airplane. Parts of the tail started to explode off, and Chris could no longer steer the airplane. The only thing he could do now was go down.

        “Oh god, what do I do?” Chris pleaded. He knew if he stayed in the air, he would certainly be blown to bits by the exploding flak.

    “Damn krauts!” he cursed. Chris inhaled deeply, and pushed the yoke forward.

    As the Mustang continued to lose altitude, Christopher had a traumatizing view of a lake and dense evergreen forests. His heart was pounding and he knew he was going to die. He closed his eyes and started to count. One… two… three… four… five… He opened his eyes and saw nothing but blue. Splash!

        The cockpit of the plane filled with water, and Christopher started to panic. He managed to rip his seatbelt off and he quickly turned around and grabbed his bag of supplies. The window of the cockpit was completely shattered. That was his only way out. He swam out of the cockpit and clawed for the surface. He was about to run out of oxygen. His body was starving for oxygen as Christopher swam to the surface. He broke through the water to the surface and took in the deepest breath he has ever taken. Never in his life had he been thankful to be able to breath. Christopher looked around him and saw nothing but dense evergreen forests. ‘There’s no way in hell I’m going to make it out of here alive,’ he thought. He continued to inhale and exhale deeply. He looked up at the sun which is now starting to reach its peak in the sky. Christopher started to feel extremely exhausted, and so he swam to the beach of the lake.

He crawled up onto the shore and laid on his back. His body was shaking violently. Christopher stared up at the blue sky and started to cry. “I’m never going to make it out of here,” he cried. “There’s no way.”

He laid there on the shore soaking wet and weary. “Never knew wrecking in a plane could be so exhausting,” Christopher sarcastically stated. “I know I’m going to feel sore as hell tomorrow.” He was still shaking but it was slowly starting to get better.

Around noon, Christopher woke up from a nap. He didn’t even know that he fell asleep. It just sort of happened. He was wrong about being sore tomorrow, for he was already sore. Every muscle in his body was in agonizing pain. His ribs were bruised as well. Chris attempted to get up on his feet and almost fell. He got back up on his feet and sighed. He looked around at the German forest. There were no clearings in any direction, and there was in fact no way he was going to find his way out of there. Even though it seemed like he was in hell, the landscape was quite beautiful. Birds singing their hearts out as they flew from tree to tree, butterflies flying around a bush, and even a rabbit across the lake was hopping around. ‘I don’t know whether this is hell or paradise.’ Christopher thought to himself. He picked his supply bag up and started to rummage through it. A flip lighter, a forty-five caliber pistol, a couple magazines of ammunition, a .30-06 rifle, and some other basic survival supplies were all in the bag. ‘Alright, well at least I didn’t lose anything in the crash.’ he thought. He grabbed the handgun out of the bag and shoved it into the back of his pants. Then he grabbed the rifle and slung his around his shoulder. ‘Alright, now what am I going to do?’ he questioned. Christopher looked around the lake. It definitely was a beautiful lake. The water was a dark blue and very deep. Chris knows that from experience.

After an hour of walking around the lake, Christopher found a cave that was south of the lake. He didn’t go inside of it because he was scared that something was in there that would eat him. The cave goes into the cliff off a large hill, and it was very wet. Water is constantly dripping off the roof of the cave. Around the shore of the lake, there was a ton of foliage, as well as plenty of firewood. The firewood would definitely be handy for when Christopher decided to make a camp site. During his walk, Chris noticed plenty of wildlife. He saw rabbits, birds, fish in the lake, and he even saw a few deer.

As it started to near two o’clock, Christopher had gathered up an abundance of firewood. He took the wood into the cave and put it into one big pile. He also took some large stones and placed them in a circle around the base of the wood. Christopher pulled the lighter out of his bag and flicked the igniter. The lighter worked which was very surprising; after all, it was just submerged in under twenty-feet of water. Chris knew that trying to burn just the wood by itself wouldn’t work, so he walked outside of the cave and looked around for dead bushes. The dryness of the twigs and leaves would make it easier to accelerate the fire.

After a few minutes of searching through the woods, Christopher managed to find a patch of dead grass and two dried up, dead bushes. He broke one of the bushes down and tore up some of the dried grass. Satisfied with his gatherings, he strolled on back to the cave.

His tongue was sticking out of his mouth as he concentrated on setting up the fire fuel. At last, he had it set up. He shoved all of the grass, twigs, and leaves underneath of the wood. Anxiously, he lit the dry grass and watched the wood slowly set ablaze. The fire quickly warmed up the cool cave, and made the area around the fire drier.  Now that he had a fire, Christopher should be able to set up some sort of camp. He dug through his bag once more and pulled out a sleeping bag. He sat the sleeping bag a couple feet away from the fire and crawled inside of it. Though it was only three o’clock in the afternoon, Christopher was ready for bed. The sleeping bag was actually quite comfortable and he quickly fell asleep.

Christopher woke up to a ray of light shining into his face. That ray of light was coming from the rising sun. The awakening was unpleasant for he was in a tremendous amount of pain. Christopher unzipped his sleeping bag, and slowly got out of it. He wanted to stretch, but if he did so, he knew he would regret it. Instead of stretching, Christopher decided to take an early morning walk.

      When he stepped outside of the cave, he was immediately hit with the hotness of late August. Even though the sun was just peaking over the horizon, it was already blistering hot out. “Jesus Christ!” Christopher exclaimed.

     Within minutes, he was sweating profusely. Knowing he would get dehydrated very soon, he strolled over to the edge of the lake. He got on his knees and bent over the blue water. ‘Should I really be drinking this?’ he wondered. ‘It seems very unsanitary, and I could get sick from it. Oh well!’ Christopher cupped his hands together and scooped up some water. As soon as the water hit his tongue, he cringed. The water tasted very dirty. He spat out the water and thought to himself, ‘Don’t I have a pot in my bag?’ With that thought, Christopher walked back to his camp.

     As he dug through his bag, he found more items that he didn’t know he had. There was a box of matches, a bowie knife, and a set of winter clothing. He was sure there was more in there, but he just wanted to get some purified water. Christopher grabbed the pot out of his bag, and walked back to the lake.

     Christopher submerged the pot into the water and let the pot fill. He pulled the pot up out of the water and poured a little bit of the water so it wouldn’t spill everywhere as he carried it back to his fire.

     On his way back the fire, Christopher really took in his surroundings. The wilderness of Germany was quite beautiful. That was until he heard some sort of loud grunt. ‘What in the hell was that?’ Christopher thought as he began to tremble. The low grunt sounded like it came from behind him, and so he slowly turned around. His heart dropped into his stomach. Before him, stood a towering brown bear. “Sweet mother of god,” Christopher whispered. The bear looked madder than a hornet and growled. Christopher panicked and threw the heavy pot of water at the bear. He turned back around and darted towards the cave. That gave him a good head start.

      Christopher grabbed his rifle that was lying next to his sleeping bag, and pulled back the bolt. Luckily enough there was a bullet in the chamber. He readied his rifle and walked to the entrance of the cave. His heart was pounding and he was shaking violently. It was silent for a minute until he heard pounding on the ground and leaves crunching. He pointed his rifle in the direction towards of the commotion. A few seconds went by, and he finally saw a blur of brown charging towards him. He pointed the rifle at the bear and fired. The bear roared and still kept running. Christopher fired again and the bear dropped. His shoulder was already in pain. He was trained to fly fighter planes, not firing extremely powerful rifles at bears. The only thing that was positive in that situation was that Christopher was going to have plenty of food in the upcoming months.

As it started to turn October, Christopher had begun to lose hope. The days were getting colder and he was starting to run out of resources. The only hope he had at that point in time was that he’d died. He didn’t want to be stranded in the woods any longer. Would the Nazis finally find him and capture him, or would he be rescued by his fellow Allied troops?

      Around the middle of October, Christopher had awoken to the sounds of gunshots. This was normal, but this was closer than normal. He walked outside of the cave and looked directly into the early morning sun. The air was crisp and cold and Christopher could see his breath.

     As the minutes went by, the sounds of gunshots and explosions got closer and closer. Christopher anxiously looked around, his pistol in his hand. If it were the Nazis, would he really fight back? There was no doubt that the ringing gunshots and explosions were from a battle between the Nazis and Allies. ‘Should I try and go find who that is?’ Chris thought to himself. ‘This could really be my own chance of getting out of here. Whether it be the Nazis or somebody else.’  He walked back into the cave and grabbed his bag and rifle. With all of his gear on him, he walked back out of the dank cave and towards the sounds of war.

      After only a half an hour of strenuous walking, Christopher started to hear yelling on top of the thundering gunshots. He was still deep in the woods, but he could see a clearing ahead of him. Though the sounds of death and conflict were around him, he felt joy for the fact that he was going to be getting out of the woods. Christopher ran with excitement towards the clearing.

     He emerged from the forest. There was an ominous fog covering up the small village that sat before him. Some of the small buildings were set ablaze, others were either riddled with bullets, or have turned to rubble. For a moment, the thunders of war had stopped. There was only the screams of the wounded. Christopher took his rifle off of his shoulder and held it in his hands. He progressed into the town.

     After a few minutes of searching, Christopher encountered a squad of American soldiers. He explained to them what happened back in August and what he had to do to survive. After a tough battle with a squad of the SS Kampfgruppe, the American soldiers led Christopher Benedikt back to safety.

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