Histories and Memories of those who served in the 13th Armored Division are recorded here. They have been arranged in alphabetical order, by the last name of the veteran. If you would like to add your history and memories, or the history of a parent, please click the "add your history" button in the side menu.
Fred Sternberger re interview with Star News 11/9/2008
Fred Sternberger, who was a gunner in a tank, said he used to lie on the tank’s floor and take orders from a commander who kicked him in the helmet to get his attention. Wearing asbestos gloves, he dumped shell casings out a small window of the tank.
“The hatches were shut,” said Sternberger, 84, of Wilmington. “It was a no-no to stick your head out.”
|Gas, Ammo, Convoy Saved By A.A. Men
This article appeared in the May 15, 1945 issue of the Black Cat, a 13th Armored Division newspaper.
Thanks to Bob Whelan for informing us of the source of this article.
Ack-ack men from the 574th AAA Battalion which supported the 13th Armored Division in both the Ruhr and Bavarian battles, achieved their biggest success while in action with the Division when they beat off an ambush that was planned to destroy a whole 59th AIB gasoline and ammunition convoy.
The third and fourth sections of the 574th’s Battery A were assigned to protect 15 trucks loaded with gas and ammo for the 59th. When the convoy neared Urbach, Germany, enemy bazookas, automatic weapons and rifles suddenly poured out a hail of fire. The firing came from all directions and it was obvious that the Germans had planned a trap calculated to wipe out the convoy.
Although heavily outnumbered, the ack-ack men opened up on the Germans sitting in the covered positions and continued to hold off the Nazis until tanks came up and drove them off three and a half hours later.
The initial fire, poured out from extremly close range, killed several drivers and caused their vehicles to careen over and block the movement of the other trucks. Shells in the burning ammo trucks began to explode and the Germans increased their fire but the ack-ack men held firm and even used their small arms when they were knocked out as gun crews.
Despite the loss of some of the vehicles, the major portion of the convoy was saved and got its supplies through to the doughboy battalion
A.A. M16 Half-track
See Page 184
Edward W. Gruss
Technician Fourth Class, U.S. Army
Service # 33003315
46th Tank Battalion, 13th Armored Division
Entered the Service from: Maryland
Buried at: Plot E Row 13 Grave 25
Netherlands American Cemetery
Awards: Bronze Star, Purple Heart
Edward lost his father at a very early age, 6 years old. Edward had an older brother, James. They were very close. James died at 14 of complications due to rheumatic fever, Edward was about 10. This was about 4 years after losing his father. His mother tried to give him extra attention during this time and because of this, she became extremely close to him.
Edward was dating a woman named, Betty, before he joined the service in 1941 and would most likely have married after his discharge.
When Edward was killed, Betty was pregnant with his child. Upon learning of his death, she lost the child.
To quote from my family history,
"he lost his father when he was 6 years old, his big brother when he was 10, fathers a child…who he may not even have known about, serves heroically in the was which goes unnoticed, his child is miscarried, he is killed in battle in Germany, his body remains buried in Holland and his family members cannot mention his name."
It further mentions that the family should recognize his sacrifice for his country and his rightful place in our family.
Julie A. Gruss
PFC William V. Fish
My father was drafted as a teenager right out of high school. He originally was put in the draft line for the Navy, but asked if he could be in the Army instead because he hated the Navy uniforms. 🙂 He was in a tank battalion and served as a medic and also drove the ambulance. Being half French himself, he greatly enjoyed seeing France, even under the circumstances. He had great difficulty pronouncing Rouen and the French people had no idea what he was trying to say. My dad didn’t talk much about the war, except to show me how to do an emergency tracheotomy. He earned a Bronze Star and two good conduct medals. He is my hero. He passed away on January 8, 2003 in his hometown of Kenosha, WI and is survived by his wife Ann Ruebsamen Fish and two daughters, Pam and Peggy and a son James who died shortly after birth.
I am so proud of him and all the brave men and women who risked their lives for our freedom.
submitted by his daughter, Peggy Fish Teixeira
DIXON — It was Wilbur Scott who spotted the approaching jeep first, with a three-star plate bolted to its front bumper.
The 13th Armored Division staff sergeant had his wits together and quickly snapped off a sharp salute, which Third Army commander Gen. George S. Patton smartly returned.
A captain in the Sherman tank following Scott was not as alert and paid the price as Patton’s jeep screeched to a stop and Patton, who was both feared and legendary for his temper, chewed out the unfortunate officer, much to the amusement of Scott and the rest of the GIs.
Scott grew up in Richmond and tried to get into the Army Air Force when he signed up in 1942.
He didn’t score high enough on the test to make it into the Air Force and remembers telling the recruiter he would be back next week to take the test again.
” ‘No,’ he told me. ‘You are already in the Army’,” Scott remembers. He was shipped to a series of bases around the U.S. until he managed to get into the Air Force, only to be foiled once again by the Army and quickly turned back into a ground pounder during World War II.
Scott landed in Texas and was made a part of the 13th Armored Division, which was being re-equipped with vehicles such as the M-8 Armored Car and an upgunned version of the Sherman tank.
“I was a staff sergeant and they allowed me to keep my rank. I took charge of a squad that was made a part of the armored infantry,” Scott said.
That meant taking charge of a dozen guys in an open-topped half-track where their job was to scout ahead with two to three tanks following behind to find out where the Germans were.
“There were five guys on each side (in the half-track’s passenger area) and I got to sit up front in a seat. We would be the point to check things out,” Scott said.
Scott and the 13th Armored Division landed in Le Havre, France, in late January 1945, and eventually were moved into the rapidly advancing front lines near Kassel, Germany, in early April as part of Patton’s Third Army as it prepared to pinch off the Ruhr Pocket and then slash toward southern Germany.
By early spring 1945, the German army was in the process of falling apart “and there was a lot of chaos at that time,” Scott said.
“It was also colder than hell,” Scott said.
Sometimes, Scott and his small command would roll into a town with white sheets hanging from the windows and Volkstrum, the German version of a home guard, more than willing to surrender. Scott and his squad would announce themselves at the city hall to tell the burgermeister to have everyone turn in their weapons.
“There were a lot of Volkstrum, old men and boys with bolt-action rifles, and they were not willing to die for their country,” Scott said.
Other times, they would run into groups of die-hards willing to fight it out. When it came to taking part of Dusseldorf against one of those groups, “we would use a bazooka to fire down the hallways (of the buildings they were clearing) into the Germans who were at the other end,” Scott said.
After closing off the Ruhr, the 13th Armored swept through German towns on its way toward Bavaria.
It was during this time that Scott was severely wounded in the left arm by German fire and contracted gangrene before the arm could be properly treated.
He ended up in a hospital in Paris and under the care of a doctor who said he would lose his arm. One of the nurses stayed up with him all night, pumping him full of antibiotics “and she saved my arm.”
After the surrender in Germany, he was flown home to the U.S. and was put into a hospital in the Bay Area, where he recovered and left the service, four years and 19 days after he signed up, to rejoin his wife and family.
Scott followed his father’s footsteps and became a commercial painter, painting many of the Bay Area’s bridges and the tower on Mount Sutro.
“I had no fear of heights. I loved it,” Scott said.
After his wife died, Scott moved from Danville to Dixon, where he lives now. The 91-year-old veteran rides a bicycle three to four miles a day, takes tai chi classes and frequents the coffee shop where he listens to Dixon’s farmers talk about the crops.
“I was glad to be serving my country, but I was also glad to be out,” Scott said.
On the evening of Aug. 14, 1945, York County, Pa., residents joined a massive national V-J celebration, marking World War II’s end. The largest county assembly occurred in York’s Continental Square. York resident Al Heindel participated in the celebration as he passed through York after fighting in the European Theater and on his way to the Pacific. Here, holding a special V-J edition of York’s Gazette and Daily are, from left, L. Allen Wolfgang, Richard E. Wolfgang and Lloyd E. (Pud) Wolfgang. Paul S. Wolfgang is at far left. Also of interest: About York County in World War II: ‘We provided tanks, guns, refrigeration units and soldiers’ and York County USO sought to ease issues facing World War II boys coming home and York County sacrificed on home front and war front to aid Allies in World War II .
After the Soviets and their Allied partners quibbled over who would settle where in the surrendered Berlin, American, British, and French troops moved into that German city on July 1.
In the Pacific, the Enola Gay dropped the A-bomb on Aug. 6., and Nagasaki was bombed three days later.
York resident Al Heindel was on his way to the Pacific when he learned during a York stopover that Japan had unconditionally surrendered to the Allies on Aug. 14.
Here’s his e-mailed description of the resulting grand celebration in York’s Continental Square, which includes an interesting vantage point to see the city on that grand night:
I was in the European Theater until the war ended in Europe and received our order, Japan bound via the U.S.A. So we got a couple of weeks furlough, here at home in York, Pa. While I was here on furlough, the war ended in Japan. That night, (August 14th. 1945) there was a GREAT CELEBRATION here in downtown York. During war time, we had to be in uniform at all times. So Lamparter, had a dead animal business (they butchered the dead animals and made fertilizer, bonemeal, hides for leather and etc.) so they stacked bales of hay in tiers so we could sit on the bed of the truck and being a soldier, I had a ball on the back of the truck. I took all the Glory for the servicemen of York, riding all over the city because there weren’t many home at that time. In fact, I didn’t see any. This was a great night of celebrating.
When my furlough was over, I was sent to Lompoc, California, to meet my outfit (13th Armored Division) to wait for discharge. The 13th was devacuated and I was Transfered to the 20th Armored Division, (Chauffering a Colonel) until I got an emergency call for home that my Grandfather was gored by a big hog and infection killed him. I got an emergency furlough and came home for the burial . My personal equipment and orders were send to me here at home to report to Indiantown Gap for immediate discharge. Hurrah and I was a civilian again.
Al later became a leader in York’s German-American Society.
GA Perry: http://www.kwsu.org/WWII/Stories/GAPerry/07CrowsNest.aspx
Name: David Marsh McLelland
Born: 16 February 1921, Iredell County, N.C. Son of Dockery Nelson and Carrie Sloan McLelland, he was the ninth of 12 children.
Family: Five children by Reggie Gaines Norwood, grandchildren; currently married to Pearl Clapp Clemmer.
Home: 2018 Nottingham Lane, Burlington, N.C.
Entered service: 1 December 1942.
Discharged: 3 May 1946.
Branch of service: of the United States, drafted. 13th Armored Division, 498th Armored Field Artillery Batallion, Service Battery; 80th Infantry Division, Company A 317th Regiment, ETO; Crile General Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio.
Highest rank: Staff sergeant
Location of service: France, Germany, California.
Wounded: Trier, Germany, bullet struck right upper lip shearing right upper teeth at gumline, severing left half of tongue, shattering left mandible, puncturing left eardrum necessitating hospital care for 15 months with bone graft. Left hipbone used to replace mandible damage. (From this medical procedure comes his standard joke that he is the only man he knows who has the jawbone of an ass — his own!)
Medals or special service awards: EAME Theater Ribbon with 2 Bronze Battle Stars, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, Victory Ribbon World War II. American Theater Group.
Special duties/highlights/achievements: Battalion Supply Technician, clothing, food, vehicles, arms and tools. Squad leader with 80th Division, 3rd Army. Participated in offensive and defensive action against German Enemy.
Other biographical information: : “When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, I was a rising candidate for an AB-LLB degree at UNC at the end of the school year in the spring. I registered for the draft and worked at a powder-loading plant in Virginia until Dec. 1, 1942, when I reported for military duty and shortly boarded a train that took me to Camp Beale, California. There I became a member of the 13th Armored Division which had been activated the first week in October.
“It was soon apparent to me that I was not an admirer of the military style of life, but I was advised to apply for Officer Candidate training. I applied and was told to gain weight, as a 5’ 11” should weigh more than 130 lbs. No more was heard about that.
“Shortly after D-Day, June 4, 1944, a call for volunteers to replace losses sustained on D-Day was issued and I accepted. In late July or early August ’44, I reached Scotland by HMS Queen Elizabeth and traveled by train to Barnstaple, England and rode a Dutch ferry to France.
“There, in one of Napoleon’s castles near Paris, I worked re-addressing mail and came across a notice that my application for OCS at Ft. Sills, Ky., had been approved and if I wanted to attend OCS, an order reassigning me to return to the U.S. would be forwarded. I burned that notice.
“It was Jan. 1, 1945, when I reached the front line and first heard the guns of war. In the coldest winter in 100 years, I have understood, I lasted in the slippery snow drinking snow-melt and dodging death by warfare until Feb. 21, 1946. Field hospitals in Luxembourg, England and Cleveland, Ohio, were my dwelling places until I was honorably discharged May 3, 1946.”
Brothers in war: McLelland also had two brothers in the great war: Edd and George. “Edd once told me that he was eligible for a Purple Heart as his neck got bloodied on both sides by a burst from a German burp gun which, as he said and I had recognized, fires a steel rod. But he thought he hadn’t shed enough blood to warrant the medal.”
Education: Iredell public schools, Mitchell Junior College, UNC-Chapel Hill.
SEIDENABEL, ALBERT RAYMOND (JACK)
SEIDENABEL, ALBERT RAYMOND, NICKNAMED JACK. DADDY SERVED AS TANK COMMANDER DURING WW2. SERVED WITH THE 13 ARMORED DIVISION/BLACK CATS.HE DID NOT TALK OF HIS EXPERIENCES DURING THE WAR VERY OFTEN.I KNOW HE WAS PROUD TO SERVE THIS GREAT COUNTRY AND LOVED IT AND "OLD GLORY". SADLY, HOWEVER, DADDY PASSED AWAY ON MARCH 3RD, 1989. HE IS GREATLY MISSED BY MY MOTHER, me, AND MY FOUR CHILDREN… (AND NOW 6 GRANDCHILDREN OF MINE). HE IS BURIED AT BEECH GROVE CEMETERY, IN POMEROY, OHIO. (MEIGS} COUNTY. THANKS FOR HAVING THIS SITE. MY FATHER WOULD BE SO PROUD!
submitted by = JACKLYN SPAUN
relationship = DAUGHTER
was enlisted in the Army, but was rejected because of a
physical problem. After he had his surgery, and had recovered, he once again
enlisted. This time he was accepted and was assigned to a Tank Battalion and had
about a year and a half in rigorous training in Texas and Camp Beale, Ca.
He never spoke of being scared but he said he would hear some of his bunk mates
crying in the night. He seldom talked about fear. He mostly talked about his
buddies. They were truly band of brothers and watched over each other. That’s
why they have those reunions.
He supervised 7 men in the loading and, firing, unloading, and maintenance of a
105mm howitzer with the 49th Ruhr Campaign. He was responsible for the control,
coordination, and the tactical employment of the 105 mm howitzer and crew
He once was busted back to corporal because he told off an officer. The
officer was chewing him out because he didn’t dig his foxhole deep enough. He
talked back and got busted back to corporal on the spot. He laughed about it
later though, maybe it saved his life. Identically his whole battalion got the
bronze star for that Ruhr Campaign battle. They landed in LaHarve, France. They
went on down though France and crossed the Rhine River at St. Goar.
One thing he had a horror of was the holocaust death camps. That is one thing
his wife says she will never forget. It was so devastating.
George passed away on July 30th 1999. He is buried in Abraham Lincoln Veterans
Cemetery, but his memory lives on with his wife, and his 51 years of marriage.
We thank George for serving in the war in Europe and his wife Ann for sending
all of this information.
Submitted by Woodlawn School – WWII project
Robert Keith Bell
Painted mural on wall of post Officers Club1943-1944 be-
for going to Camp Bowie, Texas. Was in Combat Command A
under Brig Gen. Lawrence Jaynes. Was discharged from
Camp Cook, Ca. In Feb. 1946.
submitted by = Betty G. Bell
relationship = Wife
registered for the draft in Febuary of 1942 where he was
Classified 2B and his occupation was shipbuilding.
He was then reclassified in April 1944 to 1A and assigned to the Army
Infantry.Where he received 17 weeks of training atInfantry Basic Training at
After that he was sent to 13th Armored Division in Bowie,Texas.While he was in
the 13th AD he got to know 13 men that would be in his spuads half-track when
they would enter combat.
It was hard for him to see men he knew killed and wounded.He was a
Rifleman/Radioman (PFC) he carried a M1 rifle and two hand grenades.He was not wounded while he was in combat in France,Germany,and Austria.When the war ended in Europe they went from Austria to the German side of the Inn River where he was sent to Japan via the USA.
He was welcomed home to california.
Submitted by Woodlawn School – WWII project
Robert Higgins Corporal
He was a Corporal assigned to a Machine gun squad in Company C 67th AIB 13th
Armored division. It consisted mainly of tanks, half tracks, armored personnel
carriers and artillery. He first landed in Le Harve, France and ended his tour
of combat in Bruno, Austria, Hitler’s birthplace. He was drafted in 1942 at
the age of 18 he was offered a very good job to stay home but he stayed with the
draft. Four days after his graduation he was shipped out to serve. He went
through the countries of Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, France and Austria. His
division met up with the Russians in Linz, Austria. He stayed in the army for
three years. The highlight of his service was visiting Hitler’s retreat in
Austria and even though it had been bombed two years before it had huge luxury
suites underground. He was trained in Fork Knox, Kentukey. He also said that at
the end of the war they got rations of hot dogs and beans that would sell for
five dollars each.
Submitted by Woodlawn School – WWII project
Drafted when he was a eighteen, Louis Mafrice joined the army in
November of 1942. He was a Radio Man,a very dangerous jo. On his way over seas he lost part of a finger on the boat in a storm. He always respected his
commanding officers and followed orders. He said "We looked out for each other as brothers. Working together helped to achieve our goal to safegaurd us." He started in Le Harve, France and fought in the "Battle of the Bulge". They
proceeded up through Germany, to Hitler’s Eagle nest.
He stayed on as an Occupational Force a month and a half after Germany surrendered. He often thought he would not make it home, but letters from his wife helped him through. He would tell anyone joining the army that it can be fulfilling and you can do your country a great service.
Submitted by Woodlawn School – WWII project
Jospeh P. Marak
rank = Pfc
My father-in-law was in the 13th Division, 59th AIB Conpany "A". He was the mortar gunner in the mortar squad. On April 10th 1945 my father-in-law was standing in the rear of the half track as the rear observer. Sargent Huntley (from Virgina or West Virginia) was manning the machine gun at the front. They were the only two standing at the time the mortar struck the half track. The injury sent Joe back to the states. He was finally discharged in May 1948
submitted by = William Newman
relationship = Son-in-law
MURRAY (MITCH) MENSCHEL
Oct.1,2007….at age 88, still hanging around….although wheel-chair-bound and house-bound for the past 10 years or so. Originally from the Bronx, New York City….presently residing in San Diego, CA
Drafted Feb. 16, 1942…assigned to 8th Armored Div. at Ft. Knox, KY……but soon thereafter became part of CADRE to start 13th Armored Div., Yuba City-Marysville,CA.
Pulling KP, which was rough, decided to volunteer for Cooks & Baker’s school…BEST THING I EVER DID….for that made life simple and great while in Service…always hhad enough to eat…and for a kid from the Bronx, that is so important.
During the Battle of the Buldge, Armored Div. were cut down in size and started shipping out to Europe…..
I was lined up in the Field House with the trucks just outside to take us to the train for shipment overseas….a few of us were called out and remained at Camp Beale, and I was among them….Finally discharged on Dec. 11, 1945, as I was assigned to the Financial Office making up the DISCHARGES FOR THE G.I’s…..and I finally got out on time served…..almost 4 years of Army Life.
Now looking for any that remembered me at HQ Co. 13th Armored Div……Now creating Web Pages for Veterans and Friends…all for FREE….if interested… MITCH_MENSCHEL@YAHOO.COM Please type 13 Armored Div. in the Subject Line…..LET ME HEAR FROM YOU… MITCH
McLelland is from Burlington,NC. He served in the army from
1943-1946. McLelland was drafted into the army. McLelland was a member of the
13th Armored Division in December of 1942.
After that he was drafted for the military service until July 1945. Which was
the day he volunteered to transfer to the Europoean Theatre as a replacement for
D-Day casualties of June 6, 1944. Later on he was assigned to the 80th NC Blue
Ridge Infantry Divison and was shot in the face near Trier, Germany of February
He was in the hospital in Germany and England until April 13,1946 and still
after that he was in Crile General Army Hospital in Cleveland,Ohio.He was
honorably discharged on May 3,1946 he has a Purple Heart and a few other
He was in the war because to him it was a necessity.
Submitted by Woodlawn School – WWII project
Ray was first enlisted in the US Air force on September 14, 1942, at
Fort Snelling in St. Paul. He was later sent to Spokane Air Force base, in
Washington. Then to Pendelton Field, Oregon, then to Stockton, California.
Finally he wound up training in AAF Administrative School at Chaffy Junior
Collage in Ontario, California.
He however was not happy with his job so he qualified for an Army Specialization
Training Program, so he was sent to Salt Lake City, Utah to study Mechanical
Engineering at the University of Utah. After 9 months the program was closed and
I was sent to the Thirteenth Armored Division located at Brownwood, Texas. Even
though he asked to be a tank driver, he was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky to train to operate a radio by Morse code and voice. They were sent over seas and landed in LeHarve, France. The shelling of Saarbucken was his first day of combat.
At the end of the war his battalion occupied a farm house for 5-6 weeks before
he returned to the US to prepare for the invasion of Japan. The atomic bombs
were dropped so the war ended. The 13th Armored Division was deactivate and he
was transferred to the to the Transportation Corps doing clerical work. He
received his discharge on January 18, 1946. He served for 3 years, 4months, and
Ray now lives North of Ivanhoe, Minnesota.
Submitted by Woodlawn School – WWII project
James Herbert Rodgers
My dads name was James Herbert Rodgers. He was born Feb 12, 1910 and he died April 13 1965.
My father never talked much about the war. I think most vetrans that see combat, don’t. He only told me one story that I remember. He said that he and the tank crew had stopped at a farm house and for what ever reason, he had been given the assignment to go in. The tank was outside with its touret aimed at the house. When he got in there, 2 German soldiers were in there. They put their hands on their heads and as my father was about to leave with them, a closet door opened and a officer came out with his hands up. I guess my father felt really lucky, because, he said the officer could have killed him because he didn’t know he was in there. The officer surrendered and gave my father 2 shoulder houlster 380 automatics. We still have one in our position. He also came home with a Black Cat paper edition of the end of the war, German helmet,bayonet,swastica arm band, many German coins and some pocket watches.
Submitted by his son Jim Rodgers
was drafted when he was fifteen. He had been in the army for approximately one year before he joined the 13th AD. Went though basic with the 44th Infantry at Fort Lewis, and later went to school at Pasadena Jounior College studying engineering under the Army’s Specialized Traning Program.
When the program was terminated he was assigned to "C" Company, 59th Armored Infantry Battalion ASA rifleman. During his deployment with the 13th AD, he was wounded at Plattling, Germany by shrapnel from artillery fire. He was flown to England where he was hospitalized for two months befor returning to the United States for an aditional 12 months of hospitalization. He never set foot on English soil, they carried him in and they carried him out.
Submitted by Woodlawn School – WWII project
registered for the draft in September of 1943. Between September and
November he was inducted and classified 1A. He spent 5 days at the University of Utah for shots, tests, films, lectures, army clothes etc. He was assigned to C
Battery 55th Artillery Training Battalion for six months.
Submitted by Woodlawn School – WWII project
My father, Pete Stiponovich, passed away on March 21, 2007 but I will try to present some of his WWII stories as I remember him relating them to me.
My father was a tank driver and gunner with the 13th Armored Division (The Black Cats), Co. B, 24th Tank Battalion. In 1945 the 13th Armored served in occupied France and then fought in Germany with Patton’s Third Army, most notably in the Ruhr Valley.
One story my father liked to tell was about a whistling German soldier. Dad’s outfit had taken a German village and they were going through houses looking for German soldiers that might be hiding there. My father was searching one house when he heard a German soldier whistling. Heart pounding, pulse racing, he readied his gun, stealthily followed the sound to the kitchen, cautiously leaned around the doorway, and there was a tea kettle whistling away! The fleeing family had vacated the house so quickly they had not turned off the tea kettle. My family still has this whistle with my father’s war memorabilia.
Another story my father liked to tell was about meeting General Patton. His tank had been shot out by an 88 millimeter somewhere in Germany and the crew was waiting for Maintenance to come by and repair it. My father was half-asleep in the turret and the tank commander was asleep down below in the tank. Suddenly he heard someone bark “What the hell’s going on here? Where’s your tank commander?” My father looked down and saw two pearl-handled revolvers and thought “Oh, my God, it’s Patton.” Dad hollered down to the tank commander who complained “Who the hell’s waking me up; can’t you see I’m trying to sleep?!” Patton responded “God Damn it, it’s me that’s waking you up!” The tank commander came up quickly, saluted the General, and explained briskly that they were waiting for Maintenance to come repair their tank. Patton replied angrily “Get that damn tank fixed and join your outfit.” “Yes, Sir” the tank commander responded vigorously.
Another time my father was down in his tank eating sweet canned peaches he had found in an abandoned German farmhouse. Another soldier kept pestering him to share the peaches. Dad gave the other soldier a jar that contained sour peaches; (they had been canned without sugar). The soldier tasted the sour peaches and said “Ugh, how can you eat these sour peaches, Pete?” and he handed the jar back to my father, who enjoyed eating the remainder of the sweet peaches.
My father’s battalion also helped liberate Dachau. Dad said he would never forget the stench of disease and death, which he could smell long before his tank reached Dachau. And he said he would never forget the sight of the emaciated prisoners hanging onto the barbed wire fence and staring with haunted eyes that had seen unspeakable horrors, as he drove his tank through the gates.
My father left his tank on the Inn River near Neuotting, German when the War in Europe ended in May, 1945. When I left for my first trip to Germany and Austria, my father said “See if my tank is still there on the Inn River.” His battalion went back to California and was readying the tanks to invade Japan when Japan surrendered and WWII was over.
My father is buried at the very lovely and peaceful Ft. Logan Military Cemetery in Denver. Every time I go to visit his grave and see new WWII veterans’ graves nearby, I say, “Dad, now you have new buddies with whom to share war stories.”
Submitted by his daughter Judy Stiponovich
After two tours in the CCC (civilian Conservation Corps) from January 1940 – August 1941, Dad enlisted in November 1942 as Private AUS (regular army), Gunner 844 (Gun Crewman, Light Artillary), Battery “C”, 496th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 13th Armored Division, USA; ETO Campaigns – Rhineland (Ruhr Pocket), Central Europe; GO 33 & 40 WD 45; Shipped out 18 Jan 45 landing LaHavre, FR 29 Jan 45; promoted to corporal; busted; re-promoted to corporal, TOE Chief of Section, M7 ("Priest) Self-propelled Howitzer, but denied S/Sgt promotion due to prior demotion; 16 days Combat through 3 May; V-E Day 5 May; AOO, Germany, through 25 June; Division shipped out from LaHavre 14 July 45 landing Hampton Roads, VA, on 23 July 45; Inactivated 15 November 45; Honorable Discharge 14 February 46 (AR 615-365 RR-1 Demobilization); ASN 13-176-512 @$45/month – 3 years, 2 months, 14 days
submitted by = Joe Tocci, jr
relationship = son