Sunday, August 18, 2019

Conversation With a Tank Gunner


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.


Podcast: Lieutenant Tarr's Platoon

Monday, August 12, 2019

Never Salute an Officer With a Cigarette in Your Mouth


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.


Podcast: Lieutenant Tarr's Platoon

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Bellied up on a hedgerow, and other stories


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 nearly hourlong 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.


Podcast: Lieutenant Tarr's Platoon

Friday, August 2, 2019

A Tale of Two Tonsillectomies


My father joined the 712th Tank Battalion as a replacement in Normandy, but many of the battalion's original members were in the horse cavalry in California before the United States entered the war. Under the Selective Service Act, draftees were obligated to serve a year. Early in 1941 President Roosevelt asked Congress to extend the period of military service, leading to the acronym OHIO -- Over the Hill in October -- which became a popular saying among the recruits. When Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, many of those servicemen whose year was almost up, including Art Horn, who had just gotten married, found themselves in the service "for the duration," which would last almost five years. In this episode of War As My Father's Tank Battalion Knew It, Art and Ed "Smoky" Stuever recall having their tonsils removed in a conversation both graphic and humorous.


Podcast: Lieutenant Tarr's Platoon