Associated Press

 

 

(Reprint from Associated Press wire – Found in Tribune-Herald – 5 May 1987, Author Unknown).

Rediscovered' soldier takes drive in tank

A World War II veteran of numerous Allied attacks didn't want to fade away.

FORT HOOD – A World War II hero described by his wife as an old soldier who didn't want to fade away got a chance to try out a modern tank after he was rediscovered.

Staff Sgt. Lafayette G. Pool, whose Sherman tank, nicknamed "In The Mood," killed more than 1000 enemy soldiers, test drove a M-1 Abrams tank at Fort Hood this weekend.

"That's the most fascinating thing I believe I've ever seen," he said, "That's a great machine."

Pool is credited with destroying 258 enemy vehicles and capturing more than 250 German prisoners.

His exploits were discovered when soldiers in Fort Hood's 3rd "Tiger" Battalion, 32nd Armor, 1st Cavalry Division were researching their unit's past.

Pool, a native of Sinton, was with the 3rd Battalion, 32nd Armor, 3d Armored Division in World War II's European theater, where he led 21 full-scale attacks during the First Army's drive across Europe in the summer of 1944.

Modern-day soldiers found Pool, 67, living quietly in Taft with his wife Evelyn.

Mrs. Pool told a Killeen newspaper that her husband is one old soldier who didn't want to fade away and is glad that the Army rediscovered him.

"This is the greatest thrill for him," she said. "When (the 3/32d Armor soldiers) first called, he just looked at me and said, 'You mean they really remember me?'"

"I've always hated civilian life with a purple passion," said Pool, who has been a cotton farmer, minister, bookkeeper and school teacher since then. "The military has been my life since I quit college to join the Army."

Pool, who lost two tanks to enemy fire during the war, participated in the action that resulted in the capture of the first German town to fall to U.S. forces. At Namur, Belgium, his tank crew destroyed 15 enemy vehicles; at Dison, Belgium, they knocked out six armored infantry vehicles.

He is described as "The Ace of American Tankers," in the 1945 Spring issue of YANK, The Army Magazine.

Pool, who quit college to join the Army in 1941, was injured near the Siegfried Line on Sept. 19, 1944. As a result of his injuries, he lost a leg. In 1946 he was medically discharged but was called back to active duty in 1948 to serve as an instructor. In 1952 he was promoted to warrant officer, and retired in 1960.

Soldiers with the 3/32nd Armor surrounded him at the unit's motor pool Friday afternoon after Pool finished his M-1 ride.

"The 32d in combat proved themselves to be the greatest group over there," Pool told them. "We believed in … hitting them fast. We trained all our troops well. We cried with them and laughed with them, and if we had a chance, we'd drink with them. We were a family."

For his wartime accomplishments, Pool received the Distinguished Service Cross, the French Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit. He was cited for the Medal of Honor twice. His wife wears the Distinguished Service Cross proudly around her neck.

"The infantry has heroes, like Sgt. York and Audie Murphy, but Staff Sgt. Pool is our only armor hero." Master Sgt. Terry Collins said. "There really isn't a name, a hero in armor."