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702nd Tank Battalion "Red Devils" Association

Tribute To Jim Hardy

 

Jim Hardy was a simple man.  A truck driver and mechanic by trade, he had been a tank driver during the war in B Company, 702nd Tank Battalion.  Jim didn't have much education, but he was a pretty sharp guy.  Jim rubbed some folks the wrong way, but he made more friends than he ever made enemies.  His enemies never forgot him, and neither did his friends.  Jim was the kind of friend you'd want backing you up in a fight.  He'd cleared more than one barroom in a brawl.  He feared nothing, and no one.  He'd been through stuff in the war to really be afraid of.  Anything else paled by comparison, in his mind.  Some of the trucks he drove were loaded with unstable explosives, and safety standards weren't too high back then.  Yet, Jim drove those trucks, and didn't blink an eye.  Jim was the kind of man who would work on your car if you needed help, and if you were a friend, he wouldn't think of charging you for his labor.  He might let you pay for the parts, however.  See, Jim wasn't a rich man by any means, except in love from his friends.  This simple, hardworking, brave, honest, uneducated working class man had a heart of gold.  In spite of his "rough-as-a-cob" exterior, Jim was a teddy bear at heart.  One of his greatest loves was the battalion he'd served with in the war.  His service in that war and it's deeper meaning to freedom-loving people world-wide was his greatest achievement in life, as far as he was concerned.  The men he had served with in the 702nd Tank Battalion and 80th Division shared in that achievement, and to Jim they were his brothers.

 

Long before I ever came upon the scene, Jim had volunteered to take over running the Red Devils Association.  He paid for things out of his own pocket, because dues never were enough.  In Dunbar, Pa., Jim had a little garage that he could have rented out, or ran a business out of.  Instead, Jim made it a headquarters for the 702nd.  Jim wanted a living memorial for the Red Devils where they could call home, and use as a common ground.  No matter the weather, Jim would be there, day in, day out, pecking away, one finger at a time, on his old typewriter.  He might be writing some congressman to help a veteran get benefits, or answering a letter from a long-lost buddy, or answering the questions of someone like me, who wanted to know how their family member died.  Jim wrote a newsletter, The Hotline.  Many larger veteran's organizations, representing much larger memberships, marvelled at how much this one man, representing such a small group was able to accomplish.  They were not ashamed to take their hat off to Jim. 

 

As I have said many times, my Mentor was Col. Wm. B. "Bull" Miller.  However, I also give a lot of credit to Jim Hardy for what I was able to accomplish.  Jim answered my questions, helped motivate veterans to "give this kid a chance" and "tell him your story".  Jim did a lot for many others too.  Many, never knew where the help came from, because Jim didn't believe in tooting his own horn.  Jim has been dead now for many years, but his legacy lives on, and his friends still remember, love him and miss him.  I am one such friend.  I ran across these photos, and just wanted to tell you all what kind of man this was, and to tell him "Thanks Jim!"

Terry D. Janes

 

 

Bryan Kennedy, Jim Hardy and Joe Sintich

 

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