"Now!" Vogel yanked the pin free and let the spoon pop. Then he and Blevins were up and hurling the fragmentation grenades through the window and ducking back down. Twin blasts sent broken glass and plaster vomiting forth. Then Vogel was up and motioning for his men to assault through the now-gaping window. He was the fifth man through the window as the GIs fanned out and began to move forward through what was once a pleasantly decorated dining room. Shattered plates, wine glasses, and the remains of what must have once been a gorgeous crystal chandelier crunched beneath his boots as he made his way to the exit.
Two of his men lurched back from the doorway as a submachine gun growled from the foyer beyond. Wood splinters erupted as someone walked a burst across the parquet floor. Blevins motioned the men back, and together the squad sought cover behind the remains of the grand dining table.
"What did you see?" Vogel asked one of the men.
"Two krauts at the top of the stairs. One of them has a Schmeisser."
Vogel paused a moment to think. "Toss a smoke grenade."
Blevins tugged a smoke canister from his kit and pulled the pin. He rolled it across the floor, where it sat in the center of the foyer, hissing and smoking. More German gunfire sounded as the squad eased forward under cover of the thick, acrid smoke.
"Covering fire!" Vogel leaned around the corner of the archway and emptied a magazine up toward what he assumed was the enemy position. Other men joined him as Blevins and two other men sped through the smoke and made for the grand staircase. More automatic fire clamored, and Vogel thought he saw human figures stagger and fall at the top of the smoke-enshrouded balcony.