CHAPTER ONEDie when I may, I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.
-- ABRAHAM LINCOLN, FOUND IN FRANCES SLANGER'S CHAPBOOK
The bow of the William N. Pendleton,
a U.S. Merchant Marine freighter, sliced through the chop of the English Channel, cutting a wake soon lost in the trails of a hundred other ships. It was daybreak, Saturday, June 10, 1944, off France's Normandy coast.
From his lookout station on the bridge, a seaman scanned the waters with a slow, steady sweep of his binoculars. Beyond the swells...