The Torrance Tactical

Shortly after 9PM, a report reached the encampment that Wehrmacht activity was spotted in the Southeast quadrant of the farmer's field. The men busied themselves, checking and rechecking the packs they had meticulously assembled the night before. Filtered red light splashed across topographical maps. Weapons were checked, loose objects secured, ammo counted and re-counted.

At 21:07, 15 men set off into the darkness.

At 21:23, a man raised his right fist - men behind him crouched and pivoted, alert to a faint buzzing at their rear, a noise dismissible as a trick of the night if not for its growing persistence. Frozen soil crunched underfoot but this buzzing wasn't of men. Enzo, 16, peered back down the path.

"Enemy! Contact! 6 o'clock!" he shouted in a mute whisper. But the men were already scrambling to the icey ditches lining the road. The German sidecar flew by, taking no notice of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment - paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne - men sent to hunt them down in the darkness.

Not old enough to drive after curfew but old enough to carry a blank-modified M1 Garand, Enzo's heart races. "Fuck man, that was a close one," he says, slapping me on the back as he re-joins his units patrol, the Mercedes' exhaust lingering in a thick cloud in the freezing night air.

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