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A Cow in a Tree

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

Release Date: 06/21/2019

The Barroom Brawl show art The Barroom Brawl

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

Phenix City, Alabama was off limits, but that didn't stop tankers and paratroopers from going there. Tank driver George Bussell and tank commander Reuben Goldstein took part in a brawl at Ma Beachie's, an iconic establishment in a city described in a government report as the "wickedest city" in America. But first, a couple of anecdotes about a friendly fire incident and a mad gunner, both of which will be elaborated on further in future episodes of War As My Father's Tank Battalion Knew It.

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The Patton Episode show art The Patton Episode

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

Many veterans of my father's 712th Tank Battalion had stories about General George Patton. It was not uncommon to hear a veteran quote a Patton speech more than 45 years later. As for his language, Arnold Brown, a rifle company commander, said it best. His company was bringing up the rear on a road march, and had acquired several stragglers, when Patton drove up and asked "Who the blankety blank is in charge of this blankety blank outfit." You can fill in the blanks, Brown said.

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Conversation With a Tank Gunner show art Conversation With a Tank Gunner

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

Claude Pittman was a Sherman tank gunner in the first platoon of A Company, 712th Tank Battalion. In this conversation, he talks about a tank-to-tank duel, about fear, about coming back after being burned, about a close call, about being cooped up in a tank for days at a time, about a tanker who had combat fatigue, about humor, about liberating some American prisoners, but first, a story about going to visit a member of his company on his way home from a reunion.

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Never Salute an Officer With a Cigarette in Your Hand show art Never Salute an Officer With a Cigarette in Your Hand

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

Ed "Smoky" Stuever, a maintenance sergeant in the 712th Tank Battalion, never missed a reunion. He loved to bring memorabilia from his days in the Civilian Conservation Corps and the horse cavalry. As I go through the digitized files of interviews and conversations I recorded some 25 years ago, I'm finding a treasure trove of stories from Ed and many others that I'll be sharing as the podcast grows. I welcome comments and questions and even relevant audio clips that listeners would like to share.

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Bellied up on a hedgerow, and other stories show art Bellied up on a hedgerow, and other stories

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

Another tanker's son brought a picture taken from German documentary footage of a disabled tank with 712th markings to the 1992 reunion, hoping to find someone who could identify the circumstances and the crew. Spoiler alert: The results were inconclusive. but the conversation the image sparked went in several directions that give some insight into life as a tanker in World War II. The cover photo is a generic illustration taken from the battalion's unit history.

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A Tale of Two Tonsillectomies show art A Tale of Two Tonsillectomies

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

Art Horn, a mechanic in D Company of the 712th Tank Battalion, and maintenance sergeant Ed "Smoky" Stuever compare notes on having their tonsils removed in this conversation recorded in the 1990s, and Art and Russell Loop recall making a training film at Darryl Zanuck's ranch.

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The Runaway Tank show art The Runaway Tank

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

There's no easy way to stop a runaway Sherman tank, as Sergeant Dan Diel learned at Fort Benning in 1943. But first, an introduction to Colonel Whitside Miller, the 712th Tank Battalion's original commander who inspired an insurgency among his officers. Check out this and earlier episodes of War As My Father's Tank Battalion Knew It.

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The Death of Shorty show art The Death of Shorty

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

Marion "Shorty" Kubeczko and Ed "Smoky" Stuever were buddies in the 11th (horse) Cavalry. They remained close when the 11th was mechanized as part of the 10th Armored Division and when the 712th Tank Battalion was broken out of the division as an independent unit. Stuever was a sergeant in the battalion's Service Company, and Kubeczko was the driver of his tank recovery unit. Shorty was killed during the battle for Hill 122 in Normandy. In this episode," Stuever describes the pain of losing a friend.

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This Old Horse show art This Old Horse

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

Tank battalion maintenance sergeant Ed "Smoky" Stuever shares some memories of his days in the horse cavalry

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The Fourth of July, 1944 show art The Fourth of July, 1944

War As My Fathers Tank Battalion Knew It

A tank battalion's first two days in combat.

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More Episodes

Normandy in World War II was not a good place to be if you were a farm animal. George Bussell, a driver in A Company of the 712th Tank Battalion, describes with wonder the sight of a cow that was blown into the air and landed in the fork of a tree. In a later interview, Joe Bernardino, also of A Company, describes what may have been the same scene, with a far more tragic twist.