The 818th Tank Destroyer BN Reunion
3rd U.S. Army World War II
This event was in the planning for several months. The Patton 3rd Army Living Historians rehearsed some close order drill before they arrived. MSgt.M. Maloney ran them through their paces. The plan was to have the veterans and the family visit the Museum of the American GI. Later that day, as a surprise, they were to be given an Honor Ceremony at President George H. W. Bush Library auditorium.
Words are not enough… this had a wonderful experience for all who were there. We meet with the greatest generation! Some of the Heroes of World War II. One of the Veterans was 96 years old. He was considered the old man of the unit way back in 1944 when he thought he was a young man of 30 or so. You do the math. He was lucid with a great memory. The family and loved ones accompanied these vets.
There were three that could make it and maybe a total 8 still left that have not yet gone to be with the Lord. If you ever doubted the true value of the Museum of the American GI and all the work we do as Patton’s 3rd Army, you should know there was no doubt of what was truly appreciated and they truly thank us for all the work as we honored them for their service.
Brent Mullins gave a wonderful talk on the plans for the Museum of the American GI and told about the history of the Tank Destroyers in World War II. I think each one of us was touched in a different way as we meet them and the families.
Some of the families came to the event even though their loved ones had passed on years ago. Some had recently lost their honored heroes of WWII. There were kids, grand kids and great grand kids. The highlight of the event at the Museum of the American GI was the starting up of the museum’s M18 Helcat Tank Destroyer. The mudseum has some of the best restored armor in the world. The 3rd Army Living Historians are also part of the Adiopt a Tank program, which trains interested people to drive the tanks at reenactments.
After we left the museum property we went to the President George H. W. Bush library in College Station. Texas. This as pre-planned but unknown the the veterans. The Famous Patton Speech was given in the library auditorium. Then an Honor Appreciation of them was given to them by General Patton. The library staff invited the general public to attend and there was quite an audience.
As a final tribute, all of the non veterans were asked to stand, and the veterans of all wars were honored. We have done many events and will do many more but this event did stand out as defining why we do what we do. The Tank Destroyer Society had a song written many years ago in 1944 when these men were young and ready to fight for freedom. All of these years layer, they would, if they could, fight once more for the freedom we all hold so dear. Read once again those words “The Song of the Tank Destroyers” and remember the line, “…and if we part from comrades then and never meet again, we will never forget the days when we were TANK DESTROYER”
A special thank you goes to Dan Herman who took videos of this event and posted it YouTube..
This is part 1 of two parts. The 818th Tank Destroyer Reunion 2011.
This is part two of the 818th Tank Destroyer Reunion includes Bush Library Honor Ceremony