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God's Stepchildren

An Open Letter To War Correspondents

Reprinted from the January 1, 1945 Armored News, Armored Command, Fort Knox


Gentlemen-If you are looking for the stuff of which heroes are made, and we presume you are, we suggest that you leg it over to your nearest separate tank battalion.  They are in this war too, although from reading the papers, you'd never know it.


All God's children may have shoes, but all God's tank battalions ain't got names.  Or if they have them, they have not been made available for publication.


The Joes in these separate tank battalions are dirty; they're greasy; and they're tough.  They've had the wrong end of the stick ever since they've been in the Army.  They've been shunted around in training from one post to another, attached to one organization after another, but never for very long.


Overseas they've done a rugged, nasty job and they have received little credit for doing it.  They are allowed, in this country, to wear on their triangular patch to identify them.  But once they're across, they are anonymous and expendable.


You will read in the papers about this infantry division, or that armored division, and you will often even read about this or that infantry regiment, and the story will have names and tell what the men who answer those names are doing.  And this is very fine because credit should be given, where credit is due.


But when a separate tank battalion goes into action, you read about "tanks" or you read about "heroic tankers".  You don't read about one particular battalion of men who have sweated and bled, and given up the soft things at home to become proficient Kraut-killers.


These men are proud of their battalion.  They're proud of the number it bears and of the tradition it is only now making because this is the first war in which it has had a chance to make a tradition.  But the only publicity they get is the inscription on their dog-tags the Graves Registration men tack on.


As this is being written, these tank battalions are fighting a battle to the death as the Germans launch their last, desperate all-out attack.  They are being thrown into the hottest sectors.  They are acting the part of suicide squads in withholding actions.  They are among the toughest, most reliable units in the Army.  But they are not named.


They appear to be Uncle Sam's stepchildren.





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