Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Reunion with 12th AD WWII Vets
I had the distinct pleasure of spending a few days with 30 veterans of the 12th Armored Division during their 67th annual reunion. There were also lots of family and friends there in support. As of this writing there are 300 living veterans, so about 10% showed up.
I had a good time meeting these guys who were with my Grandfather during the war. None of them knew him. However, their perspective gives insight to what he experienced.
Below is Marvin (494th Artillery) looking at some of the 100+ pictures I brought as part of my stash from my Grandfather. Marvin shared the story of finding an upright piano found in a Nazi boys school. He would've loved to bring it home. However, he couldn't figure out a way to do this. He also led some of the vets and friends in an hour of songs from the era. It was a fun time.
Carroll (A Co 56th) poses with a photo of the officer for whom he carried his radio. Crazy. He told a story about Captain Fairbairn telling his men to not touch the stash of liquor the troops had just stumbled upon. He said that sometime later Fairbairn came down the line stumbling a little. He laughed telling this story and also recalled Fairbairn with affection and kindness. Carroll would go to college and become an electrical engineer along with his son and grandson. I was amazed at all these guys accomplished afteward.
Here's a picture of Fairbairn (right), funny enough, having a drink with my Grandfather (middle)
Below is Bill (A or C Co 56th) who was a replacement that came in during Herrilsheim. He would later get wounded by an airburst blowing tree debris and shrapnel into his leg, fracturing it. He returned to fight some more.
I also spent a lot of time (no pics) with Angelo of the 56th HQ Recon. They drove peeps (jeeps) around scouting ahead for the various combat commands.
Below is a pic of Jim, an asst driver of an M4 Sherman for the Operations Officer 23rd Tank Battalion. He told a story driving toward Ludwigshafen, on their way to Worms. A Stuart led the column. The Battlation commander was second and Jim's tank was third. I'm not remembering the facts excatly, but the column rounded a bend and the stuart kept moving forward. The Battalion commander's tank took a shot and killed him instantly (he was riding, hatch open, out the top) and the tank was stopped.
Jim, following in the tank behind them, also had his head out of the asst driver hatch when he heard/saw something whiz by...a shell of some kind. And then slam! His tank was sitting on the side of the road with the tracks blown off. He and the others crawled out and started making their way on what they thought was the safe side of the ditch. Safe, until he saw the black boots of some Germans at his face and a gun pointing at him.
He and a couple others were taken prisoner in the nearest town for 12 hours. They woke up in the morning with the sounds of tanks outside. They looked around the house and the Germans had left and the US tanks were driving through the town. I can't remember what he said, but I think they had the tanks fixed up in a matter of days to running condition again.
I also met Jim and Bob (66th AIB) who were taken prisoners after the failed attack on the Steinwald forest for 3 months.
Wikipedia story on 12th Armored
The 12th Armored small history book created immediately following the war.
The 12th Armored Division Museum.
The 12th Armored Division Association.
The links from this blog of the Herrilsheim battle i put on at a game convention.
It was an emotional and fun time. The next reunion will be in Atlanta.