Sgt Lafayette Pool

Lafayette G. Pool, born July 23, 1919 in Odem, Texas was an American tank-crew and tank-platoon commander in World War II and is widely recognized as the US tank ace of aces, credited with over 1,000 kills, 250 German prisoners of war taken, 12 confirmed tank kills and 258 total armored vehicle and self-propelled gun kills. All of which took place in a combat career that covered only 81 days in action from 27 June to 15 September 1944 with three different Shermans, all of which bore the nickname “IN THE MOOD” I-III.. He received many medals, including the Distinguished Service Cross, the Legion of Merit, the Silver Star, the Purple Heart, the French Fourragère, and the Légion d’honneur.

Pool served with Combat Command A of the US 3rd Armored Division in France between June and September 1944. He successively commanded three Sherman tanks, The first lasted from 23 June until 29 June, when Pool’s M4A1 was hit by a Panzerfaust causing him and his crew to bail out of the stricken tank. The second lasted from around 1 July 1944 to 17 August, when Pool was leading the process of clearing remaining German forces from the village of Fromental. This tank was knocked out by friendly fire of a P-38. The third and last was destroyed on the night of 15 September while attempting to force the Siegfried Line at Munsterbusch, southwest of Aachen. The tank was hit by an ambushing Panther, and while Pool was trying to back his damaged Sherman up, the Panther hit it a second time. The second round caught the tank on the edge of a ditch and flipped it over. The same round blew Pool out of the commander’s hatch, seriously slashing open one of his legs with a shell splinter. The leg was so badly mangled that it had to be amputated. He kept the same crew throughout the war, with CPL Wilbert “Red” Richards as the driver, PFC Bert Close as the assistant driver and bow gunner, CPL Willis Oiler as the gunner and T/5 Del Boggs as loader.

After 22 months of rehabilitation and being fitted with a prosthesis, Pool opened a filling station and garage at his home in Sinton, before he again enlisted in the Army and was sent into the Transportation Corps. With the intervention of General Allen, he finally managed to “come home” to the 3rd Armored Division where he would be an instructor in automotive mechanics. He retired from the Army on September 19, 1960 with the rank of Chief Warrant Officer Second Class at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. He died on May 30th, 1991 at the age of 71.

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