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The kid dove for cover inside a corner of the remaining shell of the bombed out building. Bullets whizzed past him, bombs falling one after another from the smoke-filled sky. The twenty-year-old man-boy trembled with fear. A grenade rolled into the room and his buddy jumped on it before it exploded, dying to save his fellow soldiers. Then calm descended amid the stench of burning flesh, and the acrid smell of explosives. The thunderous sounds were replaced with cries for help, moans of pain, and ear-piercing screams.
A woman hobbled into the building, flailing her arms, wailing, grasping the kid by the arm, and begging in rapid German, but repeating, “Come! Come!” Sweeping together his pack he followed her into a nearby smouldering building and she pointed to a body in a puddle of blood, knees drawn, rolling side to side, and sobbing. The kid rolled the form to face him, gasped, and terror paralysed his thinking. Shrapnel pierced her womb and he understood her baby was coming.
He was an army medic, trained to treat the wounded of the war, but he knew nothing about delivering a baby. Recovering from his surprise he communicated using sign language, broken English and broken German with the other woman asking her to find the local nuns to assist him. His medical trained mind returned and he proceeded with saving both the mother and her unborn child. The nuns arrived and attended to delivering the baby. The kid focused on removing the shrapnel, stopping the bleeding, preventing infection and saving the mother’s life. Both mother and child survived.
This is one story of many of my daddy’s life serving in the United States Army, marching across Europe during World War II. He saved the lives of both Allies and enemies. He held the dying, comforted them, and wept for them. His unit in the 409th Battalion under Patton also freed the prisoners from a Nazi prison camp at the end of the war. This is a simple snapshot of my favorite military hero. I’m proud to be the daughter of Ralph Stuart Kaney, an American hero.