More from the Hospitality Room. I first recorded Ed Stuever, a sergeant in Service Company of the 712th Tank Battalion, at the battalion's "mini-reunion" in Bradenton, Florida, in January of 1993. Dick Greca, also a member of Service Company, was seated at a table, as were a couple of other veterans.
Ed "Smoky" Stuever
In Normandy, they liberated a young Russian. He was about 21 years old, and the Germans had him digging foxholes. So when he heard the Americans were coming he hid out, and he waited till we came along. Then they told me to take him with me, he's a good worker.
I had him with me doing hard work, moving the tracks around. We had him from Normandy until August, when we were in Briey, France. He was walking down the main street over that little bridge, and he saluted a colonel of the MPs in a jeep with a cigarette in his hand, and they hauled him away. We never saw him again.
In all this period, he would always approach me and he'd say "Sergeant, what you do when Russia and America come together?"
I said, "I go home. I can go home tomorrow, I have enough points."
"'No, no. You no go home. Russky gonna cut you throat." Time and time again he would approach me with this, "Smoky, what you do when America and Russia come together?"
I couldn't sleep with that guy around. I had a real sharp dagger, and I had an extra pair of boots on the truck. They were all worn and I wanted to exchange them whenever I got a chance. And he said, "No, I want them."
I said, "No, you can't have them."
He said, "Let me have your knife." This was still in Normandy. And next day he comes back with a shiny pair of Nazi boots on, and he gave me my bloody knife back. So I could never sleep with him around.
In Service Company, we'd go fishing with hand grenades. Throw 'em in the river, fish would come up, and we'd pick 'em up. Big German trout, brown trout. Hey, you know, I was on a little rowboat and I dropped one off the side of it. That's the last time I did that, because that water wasn't too deep, and you could feel the concussion.
One night we went up to check the tanks, and the crew heard us talking. They got scared and thought it was the Germans out there, and they threw a hand grenade out. Two of us got hit, but not serious. We all walked away.
I jumped under the tank, so I wouldn't get the shrapnel, and the doggone tank started to move. I said, "Now what?" I got out of there real quick.
Jim Cary [Capt. Jim Cary was the C Company commander] remembered me going up on the first day of combat. His tank was acting up, and I came up and took care of it. I can remember that real well. I can remember after he got hit, what do you call them things, booby trap, his raincoat was all shredded. And he was always one to preach, "Watch out for booby traps." The guys got a kind of a kick out of it, not that they laughed at him, because he was so strict.
I seen a guy come out of a barn, and he had one of these things in his hand, one of those potato mashers, but he was all slaughtered up. But he was still walking, and the handle was still in his hand. He came out and I'll never forget. He wasn't with our outfit. We just passed him. He probably went to look for a dozen eggs someplace.
If I had it all to do over again, I'd probably do it the same way. Even knowing what I know right now.
Like I always say, I wouldn't do it for a million, what I done before, I wouldn't do it again for a million either. We done our goofing off. We always had some cognac or Calvados, or something around. I think that probably got us through better. You know what I mean.
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