By Kevin M. Hymel The Messerschmitt Bf-109 fighter plane dove out of the sky with machine guns firing. The pilot’s target—a pontoon bridge being stretched across Germany’s Werra River by American engineers. He closed in on his stationary prey and dropped a bomb, scoring a direct hit. The bridge erupted in a plume of metal, wood, and water. Then he circled for another pass. As the plane leveled off for its second run, a lone soldier standing on the east bank raised his rifle and fired. Private Bernie Sevel, a scout for C Company, 359th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division—the Tough Ombres—shot round after round as the plane closed the range. The date was April 2, 1945, and Sevel and another scout had just paddled across the Werra, approximately 100 miles northeast of Frankfurt in the heart of Germany. They were there to secure the east side while engineers built the bridge to deliver tanks, artillery, and other equipment from the west side. With the bridge blown to smithereens, the two scouts were alone on the wrong side of the river. Sevel’s shots got the pilot’s attention, shifting the German’s line of attack toward the two Americans. He opened fire. As 20mm rounds pounded the ground, Sevel and the other scout dove into a shell hole. The pilot zeroed in on his new target, but as his tracers reached the hole he was suddenly surprised by heavy fire coming from his left. Engineers, soldiers, and tankers on the west bank, angry at the loss of the bridge,


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