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Thanks To A Congressman

By Terry D. Janes

 

When I began my search for information about my late Uncle, Staff Sergeant Frank L. “Pappy” Ream, Jr., I gathered oral and documented information from my family.  There wasn’t much to work with.  I knew he had been in the 702nd Tank Battalion and that my grandparents were told “he had died leading his men in battle”.  What battle, no one knew.  World War Two was a long series of events, involving most of the people on earth.  It shaped the world we live in today in many ways, yet American schools teach so little about the subject.  I was ignorant of much more than the basic plot of the war, and much of what I did know was garnered from Hollywood movies.  I searched for books about the 702nd and found none.  Realizing that a battalion, while having a lot of men, is still a relatively small unit in the midst of the war, I changed my tack, reading up on the war, getting first the “Big Picture”, and working my way downward in search of this one battalion. 

 

For some reason, my letters to the military seeking information about my uncle went unanswered.  I contacted my local U.S. Congressman, Alan Wheat, and he was kind enough to open a Congressional Inquiry on my behalf.  Doors opened, and file clerks got busy.  In no time, I was getting meaningful information about my late uncle.  I discovered that much of the “mystery” in getting answers about this unit was because no history had been written about it.  I was also introduced to Colonel William B. “Bull” Miller, U.S.A. Ret., who had volunteered his name as contact person for anyone seeking information about the 702nd.  “Bull” Miller turned out to be none other than my uncle’s platoon leader.  Small world!  I volunteered to write the history of this unit, so other families could get answers they might seek.  The project grew from there, and is still growing today.  If it hadn’t been for the kind assistance of Congressman Wheat, “Patton’s Troubleshooters” might never have been written.

 

With the approval of Jim Hardy, Secretary/Treasurer of the 702nd Tank Battalion Red Devils Association, Merl Dopp of Service Company, 702nd Tank Battalion presented Congressman Wheat with an Honorary Membership in the Red Devils.  At the same time, I presented Congressman Wheat with copies of the first two volumes of “Patton’s Troubleshooters”.  Congressman Wheat proved that government can serve the people.

 

L-R: Merl Dopp (702nd Tank Bn.), Congressman Alan Wheat of Missouri, Mary Dopp (British War Bride) and Terry Janes

 

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