An Old Soldier’s Tale

Heavy breathing and panting, he ran for his life. The sound of his heart beating practically drowned out the sound of gunfire behind him. As he headed for anyplace where he could hide, he prayed to the Lord for a chance to make it out of this one alive. Tripping over bodies that fell before him, he fell to his knees. Looking behind, he could see that they were gaining on him. In an act of total desperation, he sought refuge by lying on the ground and hauling his slaughtered comrades over him like a blanket.

His heart now racing, he struggled to remain quiet and out of sight. He silently prayed that he would remain undetected by the enemy, especially now that they were standing so close to him. With his breaths like thunder and the smell of rotting flesh the only thing between him and the enemy, he thought that this was the end; that he wouldn’t be strong enough to survive.

For three days he hid like this. His stomach growling for food  of any kind, he ate any small insects that got close enough  for him to grab. Despite his prayers, the enemy remained close enough to see him if he got up. During his time lying under the dead, he had time to think of everything that mattered to him. He thought of the beautiful wife and kids he left back home in Canada, and of the life he should had led. For once, he actually regretted the two tours of duty he volunteered for. Now, with the Germans standing but a thread away from  him, he figured that this would be his last, that eventually the sick  smell  of rotting  flesh would be too much for him, and that he would move enough that they would see him, and even worst, kill him.

The first few nights were the worst he thought, but he was not ready for what would happen next. On this, his third day of playing dead, the soldiers thought it fit to pile other bodies on top  of him. They planned to pour gasoline of the lot of them, burning the dead soldiers and eventually moving on. It was at this point that he suffered most. The weight of the fallen soldiers was more than he could take. After the first few were piled high above his stiff and sore body, the pain  overtook him, causing him to pass out.

When he came to, he thought that he was in heaven. Soldiers that he spent so many days and nights with were sitting around him, praising him as a hero and rejoicing that he was still alive. This was no dream. Aaron Cooper was a hero. He had spent three full days buried alive, the only thing between him and his ultimate demise being the soldiers who had been gunned down by a terrible enemy, an evil that almost overtook the world. Between his prayers to the Good Lord and a miracle, Aaron survived this ordeal. Along with his surviving, the enemy lost a vital piece of information; Aaron was trusted to deliver a package across enemy lines. He had the package tucked in his shirt the entire time that he hid from the German soldiers.

This story was related to me by Aaron himself. While volunteering at a local  senior’s retirement home, Aaron entertained me with stories of his miraculous  adventures in the Canadian Armed Forces. At first, I thought the stories to be fabricated in his mind, but after speaking to his son and the ladies who worked at the retirement home, I learned that they in fact did happen. He really did spend three days almost buried alive.

I remember Aaron asking  if I could find him  a copy of his favorite song, ‘Distant Drums’ by Jim Reeves. He used to sing the song  day and night, driving the ladies who worked at the home insane. He was delighted when I delivered the CD to him. It was on Christmas Day, 2004. He could be heard singing the song all that day. On Boxing Day 2004, the world lost  a hero. An  unsung hero whose story would never be told…until today.  This is but one interesting story that has been related to me by the many people  I visit each month at retirement homes in the area. All seniors have a story to tell, whether it is one of fighting for  their country or raising a ton of kids in hard times. Give a listen  sometime, you will be amazed.

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