It was October 31st, 1942, and instead of enjoying Halloween festivities with his friends and family back home, Keith was on a boat heading overseas. World War II was in its third year, and the German army, lead by their leader, Adolf Hitler, had already taken control of much of the occupied territory in Europe.
Private Keith Jackson, held onto the side of the ship as it rocked back-and-forth across the Atlantic Ocean. His stomach felt as if it had been churned up in a bucket and then stomped on. Keith had only finished boot camp a week prior, and he was terrified of what he was to face once they reached The North African coast.
They reached land on November 7th in the town of Morocco. It was a culture unlike anything he had ever seen. Now occupied by France, the country was filled with allied forces and refugees from across Europe; many of which were grouped together in abandoned dance halls which would be considered unsafe by most standards.
Morocco had a large slave population as well, something that Keith was against, coming from the Northern States. It took all the willpower that he could muster, to not react when he saw these slaves being mistreated.
His platoon was brought to an allied base where tents were erected across a vast area that sat atop a hillside. From there, he could see for miles in any direction. It offered a great vantage point for spotting the enemy. Troops marched in and out of the base on a regular basis with their rifles perched at ready over their right shoulders.
Many of the local merchants set up carts and makeshift stands outside the base selling food and local crafts. They wore long white garments that Keith was told were called, Djellabah, a light-colored robe with a hood. On their heads they wore a red Fez, a cylindrical hat with a black tassel attached to the top, and on their feet, they wore what resembled slippers. Keith had mistakenly assumed that this was their bed attire and laughed when he first spotted them.
After being assigned a barracks to sleep in, he was ordered to report to the commanding officer, Colonel Pomeroy, a soldier as tough as they come. His chiseled jaw and muscular physique intimidated Keith slightly. When he spoke, everyone listened. His voice seemed to amplify over the sound of vehicles and the hundreds of soldiers that surrounded them.
Colonel Pomeroy notified Keith and the rest of his platoon, that they would be shipping out the following day to Algeria where they would hold the border of Tunisia to the northeast. So much for getting settled in, he thought.
After a day of briefing and preparation, Keith was finally able to get some rest. He laid on his cot inside the barracks and tried desperately to get to sleep, but anxiety started to take over his thoughts as he considered the fact that he may not make it back home.
The following morning, his Sergeant came into the barracks blowing a whistle, waking everyone up and ordering them to get dressed and packed up, because they were moving out in fifteen minutes. Keith jumped to his feet but was still unsteady after a restless night, and nearly toppled over. The Sergeant stood at the foot of Keith’s cot and barked out orders. Keith hurriedly got dressed, made his bed, and packed his gear. The troop then headed outside where a truck was waiting to transport them to Algeria.
They came to a stop in the town of Ouenza, close to the Tunisian border. A railway ran through the town that carried supplies for the allies. Keith’s troop was ordered to protect the railway at all costs.
While making his rounds along the tracks, Keith heard a male voice shouting out his name. At first, he considered it was the dry heat causing him to hallucinate, but then a figure came into view. A man in his early twenties approached Keith with his right hand extended in greeting. Keith recognized him immediately as one of his friends from school, Scott Calloway.
“How the heck are you?” Scott asked as he shook Keith’s hand vigorously.
“Scott, I can’t believe it’s really you! What are the odds of us finding each other half-way around the world?”
“Hey, Keith, after you finish your rounds, I want to introduce you to some of my pals, alright?”
“Sure, Scott. Sounds great.”
As promised, Keith joined his friend after he finished with his duties and was introduced to a group of soldiers from all over the United States. Each with their own story of lives they left behind.
“So, fellas, I need to tell you a secret about my good friend, Keith. Back in our hometown, Keith was known to be something of a psychic. You know, he could predict the future, and stuff like that. So, anyway, people all over town used to come to him to find out all sorts of things. You know, like if they were going to find true love, or get a job. Stuff like that.”
Keith was annoyed by his friend’s candid approach on a subject that Keith would have preferred to keep secret. Sure enough, as soon as the soldiers heard news of this phenomenon, the questions started coming.
“It doesn’t work quite that way,” Keith stated. “I can’t just predict things out of the blue whenever I want. I have these dreams that come true most of the time. That’s all.”
The men were disappointed that they couldn’t find out about their futures, but at the same time, they were intrigued, and slightly spooked out with Keith’s gift.
It wasn’t long before word of Keith’s ability spread throughout the camp, and he could hear the murmurs as he walked past the other troops. Even his own platoon started acting strange around him. He soon felt like a freak and an outcast, just like back at home. He thought he could get away from all the backtalking by joining the army, but now it had come back to haunt him.
The following morning, Keith woke suddenly, sitting straight up in his bed. The soldier on the cot next to his asked him what was wrong. Keith informed him that he had a prediction and needed to speak with the commanding officer immediately.
Lieutenant Donald Barker, or, “Bulldog” to his friends, allowed time to hear out Keith. The rumors of Keith’s predictions had reached him as well, and he wanted to see if there was any truth to it.
“Have a seat, Private. I’m told you had something important to tell me, so spit it out already.”
“Yes, sir. That is, it could be important. I had this dream last night that showed the German forces were going to be moving toward Casablanca, Oran, and Algiers. The allies need to protect from land and sea if they are to defeat the Nazis in this battle. There will be German U-Boats hiding out there somewhere.”
The lieutenant stared at Keith with an unrevealing look. He stayed silent for a few minutes as he paced the floor behind the table he used for a desk. Keith could hear the sand blowing against the tent walls outside and a bead of sweat formed on his forehead. Eventually, Lieutenant Barker spoke.
“Son, normally I don’t give into this hocus pocus mumbo jumbo, but I just got word this morning from a source I have at military intelligence, and he mentioned rumors of German forces headed this way. I am going to take a chance and notify the base that they should watch those towns you mentioned. If there is any sign of anything out of the ordinary, I will recommend an aggressive force be put in play.”
As predicted, the Nazi troops tried to take all three of the towns that Keith mentioned, and by the time the battle had ended, the British army had lost nearly six hundred soldiers, the French lost almost 1,400, and the Americans, being led by Major General George S. Patton and Rear Admiral Henry Kent Hewitt, ended up with over five hundred dead. During the battle, the allies captured several German vessels at sea, and sunk eight of the U-Boats. The allies had won.
Word of Keith’s prediction of the battle reached beyond his allied base; it soon reached top officials in military intelligence as well. They asked to be kept up to date on any future predictions.
Suddenly, Keith was no longer an outcast. Everyone wanted to shake the hand of the man that turned the war around.
The next prediction did not happen until February of 1943. Keith saw that the next battle would take place in the Atlas Mountains in west central Tunisia, at a place called Kasserine Pass. This two-mile-wide pass between the mountains was host to a fierce battle. The allied forces, consisting of the United States, Free France, and the United Kingdom, fought over a fifty-mile stretch against the German Panzer Division and the Italian Centauro Armored Division.
Tanks fired off shells in all directions as troops tried to gain ground on foot. The inexperienced American infantry suffered terrible losses at the hands of their enemy by the time it ended. 3,300 soldiers were killed or wounded, including Keith’s friend, Scott, who took a bullet to the head. In total, there were more than 10,000 casualties, but with the help of the British forces, they were victorious.
Keith had been promoted twice by the end of the battle and was now a Corporal. His fear had been replaced with a dark entity that seemed to be filling his mind with hatred for the enemy. He was no longer the timid young boy from Nebraska; now he was a killer of men. He was completely desensitised.
The predictions continued, and his fame within the allied forces continued to spread worldwide. Even the enemy began to speak of this young man that predicted the battles. During the next several months, he led allied victories in Sicily, then Italy, and then a major battle in Normandy, France between June 6th, and July 24th of 1944.
1,200 planes led an airborne assault on German-occupied France while over 5,000 military personnel led an amphibious assault from the English Channel onto Juno Beach and four other beaches along the coast. Thirteen allied countries joined the fight against the Germans and Italians.
By the time the battle ended, both sides had suffered over 200,000 casualties, but once again, the allies were victorious, shooting down more than 2,000 of the enemy aircraft and destroying around 2,000 or more tanks.
The allies continued to run the enemy forces out of France, and kept pushing them back, first through the Netherlands, and then across the German border.
Keith’s predictions had all come to fruition, and he received a letter from Dwight D. Eisenhower himself, commending him on using his gift for the cause. He even recommended Keith as a Medal of Honor recipient.
His next prediction showed he and his fellow brothers in arms going back home. He woke with a sense of hope.
On April 30, 1945, word came over the wire that Adolf Hitler had committed suicide, sensing an impeding defeat.
It was May 8, 1945, and word of a complete surrender traveled worldwide. The war was over, and the allies had won.
Keith and his platoon were finally heading back to the United States. They hitched a ride on one of the Navy’s light cruisers and were just outside Plymouth, England on the edge of the Celtic Sea when a series of explosions took place. The ship had struck several mines hidden near the surface of the water.
The ship quickly began to take on water and all crew was ordered to abandon ship. Keith scrambled to find himself a life preserver, but none could be found. The ship started to capsize, and Keith found himself toppling uncontrollably over the edge of the port side and into the icy water below.
As he surfaced, Keith looked up to see the ship plummeting down upon him, and all he could think of, is that this was the first prediction he ever had that did not come true.