August 18th, 1944. A mere two months after the Allied invasion of Normandy. The German Wehrmacht, although still stinging from the D-Day landings, is preparing for a major offensive on Allied lines. This operation, a series of attacks along the Allied-German line become to be known as Operation Wirbelwind (Whirlwind). Elements of the 2. Panzergrenadier Div. and 125. Infanterie Div. are to attack an Allied encampment outside of the French town of Reims.
"Hans!" Obergefreiter Hans Anderson's superior, Oberleutnant Goldschmidt, who also served as squad leader, called him and several other soldiers to a meeting before the battle. This was his signature way of leading his men, and they loved it. "What we will be doing today, men" he began, "is infiltrating Allied lines. What we need to do is wreak havoc on the Allied tanks; in case you haven't noticed, they are vulnerable to our tanks, yes, but enough of them will take down all of the Fuhrer's Panzers if we are not careful!" Hans knew what was needed of him now. His specialty was demolitions. It would be his and his friend, Sebastian's, job to eliminate the Allied tanks sitting so patiently behind the lines, just waiting for him to destroy them.
Everyone was nervous on the ride to the battlefield. Everyone had a reason to be. Hans gripped his Kar98k and made a short prayer to God before they got off of the trucks. They kept themselves silent, even though they could have been already spotted in the daylight. "Hans, flank right with Sebastian and Soldat Aachen! We'll make a distraction!" The three sprinted towards the tanks, making the most of their cover. The trio got into position and waited for their comrades to begin the distraction. Hans watched two American soldiers sitting on boxes, sipping coffee and playing checkers. The two laughed as one of them made a "triple-jump" over the other. The next moment would find the jumper with a hole in his head, falling over onto the checkerboard. His opponent uttered a swear and yelled for the others. Sebastian grabbed his Gewehr 41 and satchels before he ran to the first tank, dodging American gunfire. Hans and Soldat Aachen fell in behind him. Already, Aachen showed how "green" he was. "This is suicide," he shouted amid the gunfire. "We'll be ripped to shreds!" Hans didn't even look behind him as Sebastian yelled at Soldat Aachen to shut up and move up. Hans fixed his bayonet as they approached the first tank. Given the close-quarters fighting they would face, he would probably need it.
Sebastian handed Hans a pair of satchel charges as he set his own underneath the treads of the Sherman, nicknamed (from what Hans could tell) "Tank Tamer". "Hans, take out the tank over there! Aachen's doing his own thing! MOVE!" Hans took the satchels, not so much as glancing back at Sebastian. Calls were coming out for medics on both sides, and Hans thought he felt a bullet graze his leg, but now was not the time for pain. He set to work on planting the charges on the Sherman when a force knocked him to the ground, sending his Kar98k aside. He looked up to see an American standing over him, rifle in hand. He didn't check his ammo levels, as he was stuck with a weapon that only clicked. As he was struggling for a magazine, Hans grabbed his Kar and looked into the man's eyes. In them, he saw the look of a man who would die by his hand alone, a man who had family, parents, maybe a wife and child. In his head, only one thing ran through Hans' mind. His training quickly kicked in and the bayonet impaled the American's gut, forcing him to let loose a guttural scream. The bayonet let a disgusting schlep sound as it exited the American's body, and he fell to the ground, clutching his stomach and crying in a language Hans would never understand. A minute later, the charges had been set and the American had died. Hans had done his job, the American had done his. The difference was, Hans would live.
Hans raced back to friendly lines before the charges could blow. Unfortunately for him, his trip would be cut short. An American machine gun had pinned him down behind a stack of wood. He poked his head up once to check the situation before it sighted on him again. Hans had no escape now. Another bellowing of that damned language Hans couldn't comprehend. A single grenade rolled lazily towards him from his right. He shouted "GRANATE!" before outright diving from the wood pile, not caring if the machine gun hit him or not. The grenade exploded seconds later, although Hans was outside the blast radius. That didn't protect him from the shrapnel, which penetrated his right leg. He shouted a curse before calling for a medic, trying to run on the bleeding leg. The MG had sighted him though, and let loose a curtain of .30-06 cal bullets. Seven rounds hit his legs and torso, causing him to fall like a ragdoll to the ground. He managed to roll himself over into a firing position to take out the gunner, who had stopped firing to reload. This is it, Hans thought, working the bolt of his beloved rifle, I die here, and all of my efforts will be for naught. He yelled for the medic again, looking over to see if any of his squadmates were galvanized into action. None were, the lone medic shaking his head and putting his helmet over his chest. They watched the tanks explode in front of them, then retreated, Oberleutnant Goldschmidt saluting Hans before he disappeared into the forest forever.
A group of Americans rushed over and kicked Hans' Kar98k out of his hands, but they were too late if they wanted to treat him as a POW. His wounds were too serious, and the American medic shook his head, much like Hans'. A military priest was called over, and luckily he knew German. Hans had his last rites given to him, and he felt at ease with the world. For him, the war was over. He closed his eyes, thought of his sweetheart Kristen, and drew his last breath.