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Learning from the Vets
The AFV ASSOCIATION was formed in 1964 to support the thoughts and research of all those interested in Armored Fighting Vehicles and related topics, such as AFV drawings. The emphasis has always been on sharing information and communicating with other members of similar interests; e.g. German armor, Japanese AFVs, or whatever.
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Garry_Redmon
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Posts: 398
Location: Kentucky
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 2:25 am
Post subject: Learning from the Vets

I returned this evening from tending to an exhibit of the Patton Museum at the Kentucky State Fair. The museum has an M5 halftrack with a dummy .50 cal. on display in the South Wing A that I looked after and answered questions about it from the public. While this in itself may not seem important, what I learned from talking to the visitors was priceless. I talked with many veterans and/or family members and here are just a few gems.

1. I met my first veteran of the North Africa and Italy campaigns. He was a crewman on an M3/105 GMC before he transitioned to the M7 Priest.

2. I met the widow of a member of the Army Air Corps whose responsibility was to remove and clean human remains from inside bombers that had returned from missions in the ETO. She said that he was not the same when he returned from the war. She also said that one of his friends committed suicide because of the gruesome work.

3. Today I talked with a man that served with the Armor Board at Ft. Knox during the Fifties and Sixties. He did evaluations of the M41, M47, M48 and even mentioned the Mule. Five minutes later, a man that worked with vehicles and weapons systems at Aberdeen Proving Grounds during the same time period came up and struck up a conversation. If only I could have got the two of them together, what stories on AFV and weapons development they could have told.

4. Roy, you'll appreciate this one. I talked with a Viet vet whose unit was first issued the M114 equipped with the 20mm autocannon. He said they were a POS and hard to reload.

5. I met a Marine that served during the Korean War. He said that he and his buddies had stolen two M16 AA halftracks from the Army and drove them to their part of the line. Soon afterwards they used them to repel a massed Chinese attack on their positions. He said that if they hadn't had those M16's they would probably have been overrun.

6. I met another WWII vet that served with a towed ATG unit. They had 90mm towed by halftracks. They later transitioned to M36 TD's.

7. Another Viet vet seeing the .50 cal. on the M5 commented to his wife that he used them in Vietnam. I talked with him and found out he used to be a track commander on an ACAV, then he walked away quite abruptly.

8. I talked with another guy who was at Ft. Bliss on light duty while recovering from an accident when he literally tripped over General Omar Bradley's wheelchair during a visit to the post. He said he practically landed in his lap with their faces inches apart. After he pulled himself up and saluted as smartly as he could and apologized, the general dismissed him with a wave of his hand and he and his entourage continued.

The whole experience was very rewarding. I was dressed in a WWII uniform which prompted comments from the vets. "That's what I used to wear." "Those are the same kind of boots I had.", etc. The only problem was that I was the only one tending to the exhibit so my conversations were shorter than desired since I had to look after the kids climbing on the halftrack and many times deluged with questions from other spectators. I probably talked with more veterans in those three days than I ever have with all other museum events combined. I'm looking forward to doing it next year.

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Doug_Kibbey
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Posts: 4671
Location: The Great Satan
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:21 am
Post subject: Re: Learning from the Vets

- Garry_Redmon


2. I met the widow of a member of the Army Air Corps whose responsibility was to remove and clean human remains from inside bombers that had returned from missions in the ETO. She said that he was not the same when he returned from the war. She also said that one of his friends committed suicide because of the gruesome work.



Garry,
Several of your comments bring up memories or thoughts (like the Armor Board veteran...would like to have met him...), but number 2 reminded me of Randall Jarrell's haunting poem...what a nightmare that must have been.

The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner
by Randall Jarrell

"From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose."
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Roy_A_Lingle
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Posts: 1997
Location: El Paso & Ft Bliss, Texas
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 10:28 am
Post subject: Re: Learning from the Vets

Hi Garry! Hi Folks!

- Garry_Redmon
I returned this evening from tending to an exhibit of the Patton Museum at the Kentucky State Fair. The museum has an M5 halftrack with a dummy .50 cal. on display in the South Wing A that I looked after and answered questions about it from the public. While this in itself may not seem important, what I learned from talking to the visitors was priceless. I talked with many veterans and/or family members and here are just a few gems.

4. Roy, you'll appreciate this one. I talked with a Viet vet whose unit was first issued the M114 equipped with the 20mm autocannon. He said they were a POS and hard to reload.


I know what you are talking about. The same thing happiens at the model club display shows. A Vet or family member will point out a model and start talking about their experances.

The M139 20mm Autocannon was a real bear to load up the first time. It could also hurt or kill you if you made a mistake while loading it. The trick to reloading it was not to run it out of ammo. There was a cut off switch at the front edge of the ammo box that would leave 25 rounds going into the feeder assemble. Burn those 25 rounds and it WAS a bear to reload. Hold at the edge of the ammo box and all you had to do was slap a link down onto the last round in the belt.

Good job Garry!
Sgt, Scouts Out!

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General G.S. Patton Jr.
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Garry_Redmon
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Joined: Jan 24, 2006
Posts: 398
Location: Kentucky
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 7:25 pm
Post subject: Re: Learning from the Vets

Two more things that I failed to put in the first post. On my first day there, a young man, obviously having difficulty walking and with other motor skill problems came up to me with his friend and spoke in a raspy voice difficult to understand. I believe he said something about kicking the hell out of Al Queda or something to that effect and gave me a thumbs up. As he turned and walked away, his friend said over his shoulder that he used to be lieutenant and was wounded in Iraq. It then became apparent to me that this young man had brain damage and may be a survivor of an IED. I didn't get a chance to shake his hand or anything because of the many people vying for my attention at that time. I'm always going to regret that.

Another interesting thing happened when a guy started talking about his father serving in a tank battalion close to the end of the war. He said that his father's photos were on the Internet. Here is the link: news.webshots.com/albu...6219QvINBj

As it turned out, this guy lives in my town, we used to live two houses from each other and had met before in the neighborhood, but neither of us recognized each other at first. He also said that one of the model decal companies had come out with a set of decals based on his father's tank. Check out the photos. They are very interesting.

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Dontos
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Posts: 3436
Location: Vine Grove, KY
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 10:29 pm
Post subject: Re: Learning from the Vets

Garry

Thanks for the AAR. Having to sit this one out. Sounds like I'm really missing out.

Remember the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. Two of the gentleman were Sherman DD crewman from Normandy (from different vehicle). They had some harrowing tales of the 6th of June. Also the survivors tales which saw them in the Bastogne area in Dec 44.

One of the reasons I enjoy volunteering at the Museum. Learning the oral history of the many visitors, and then being able to tell the story to the following generations....

Thanks again, See you soon
Don
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bsmart
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Joined: Jan 23, 2006
Posts: 2523
Location: Central Maryland
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 11:08 pm
Post subject: Re: Learning from the Vets

- Garry_Redmon


Another interesting thing happened when a guy started talking about his father serving in a tank battalion close to the end of the war. He said that his father's photos were on the Internet. Here is the link: news.webshots.com/albu...6219QvINBj

As it turned out, this guy lives in my town, we used to live two houses from each other and had met before in the neighborhood, but neither of us recognized each other at first. He also said that one of the model decal companies had come out with a set of decals based on his father's tank. Check out the photos. They are very interesting.


Notice Tank 26 in some of the pictures. An M4A3E2 Jumbo that had a 76mm installed in the heavy turret!

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Garry_Redmon
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Joined: Jan 24, 2006
Posts: 398
Location: Kentucky
PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2007 2:23 pm
Post subject: Re: Learning from the Vets

- Doug Kibbey

Garry,
Several of your comments bring up memories or thoughts (like the Armor Board veteran...would like to have met him...), but number 2 reminded me of Randall Jarrell's haunting poem...what a nightmare that must have been.

The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner
by Randall Jarrell

"From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose."


Doug,
That's a rather chilling piece of poetry there. I think all of us here are aware of the price that has been paid in life and limb, but we don't always hear the details of the aftermath. I know I was quite moved by her story.

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Garry_Redmon
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Joined: Jan 24, 2006
Posts: 398
Location: Kentucky
PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2007 2:25 pm
Post subject: Re: Learning from the Vets

- Roy_A_Lingle
Hi Garry! Hi Folks!

- Garry_Redmon
I returned this evening from tending to an exhibit of the Patton Museum at the Kentucky State Fair. The museum has an M5 halftrack with a dummy .50 cal. on display in the South Wing A that I looked after and answered questions about it from the public. While this in itself may not seem important, what I learned from talking to the visitors was priceless. I talked with many veterans and/or family members and here are just a few gems.

4. Roy, you'll appreciate this one. I talked with a Viet vet whose unit was first issued the M114 equipped with the 20mm autocannon. He said they were a POS and hard to reload.


I know what you are talking about. The same thing happiens at the model club display shows. A Vet or family member will point out a model and start talking about their experances.

The M139 20mm Autocannon was a real bear to load up the first time. It could also hurt or kill you if you made a mistake while loading it. The trick to reloading it was not to run it out of ammo. There was a cut off switch at the front edge of the ammo box that would leave 25 rounds going into the feeder assemble. Burn those 25 rounds and it WAS a bear to reload. Hold at the edge of the ammo box and all you had to do was slap a link down onto the last round in the belt.

Good job Garry!
Sgt, Scouts Out!


That's some good information, Roy. I wish you had been there. I'm sure you could have traded some good stories.

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Garry_Redmon
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Joined: Jan 24, 2006
Posts: 398
Location: Kentucky
PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2007 2:32 pm
Post subject: Re: Learning from the Vets

- Dontos
Garry

Thanks for the AAR. Having to sit this one out. Sounds like I'm really missing out.

Remember the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. Two of the gentleman were Sherman DD crewman from Normandy (from different vehicle). They had some harrowing tales of the 6th of June. Also the survivors tales which saw them in the Bastogne area in Dec 44.

One of the reasons I enjoy volunteering at the Museum. Learning the oral history of the many visitors, and then being able to tell the story to the following generations....

Thanks again, See you soon
Don


Don,
Unfortunately I wsn't able to attend the Bulge veterans event. Too many conflicts. This has been the first time I've been able to do the State Fair exhibit and I'm really glad I did. More of the volunteers need to do it if they can get away from work. I know it's hard, but it's worth it.

It seems to me that at the Life of the Soldier or even the old Fourth of July reenactment there have been less visits by the veterans. I know their ranks are dwindling and we will be sorrier for their passing.

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