Hellcat News, (Fullerton, Calif.), Vol. 57, No. 11, Ed. 1, July 2004 Page: 16 of 20
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which John told me took about an hour and a half. I can recall
baptisms and christenings at my church, and the babies who wanted
no part of it, and verbally let it be known.
Marge Hering, wife of Don Hering of the 134th, and I are
working on plans for the unit dinner, which we are planning for
Friday night (Sept. 17) at the Ambassador. We are still waiting for
menu information, which was requested a couple of weeks ago, but
I was assured that it has been mailed, so details will be in the
August issue of the Hellcat News.
Don Ferguson [HQ] sent me the picture of CoL Phelan's tank
which should be in this issue. He mentioned that the soldier in the
picture, Sergeant Major Robert R. Johnson, was the first soldier
of the 714th Tank Battalion. This ties in nicely with a story about
Col. Phelan which I received from Ira Schobel [B]. Ira's brother,
Sumner, was a B-l 7 pilot, based at Lavenham, Suffolk, and learned
that Ira was at Tidworth Barracks. He took a train to visit Ira, and
Capt. Leehman arranged a seven day furlough for Ira. He returned
to the air base with his brother. Sumner had finished his 25 missions
and was the base training officer. Ira got to ride along on two trips
on a B-l 7 to northern England, and on one trip piloted the plane for
10 minutes. When Ira left the air base, his brother gave him an Air
Force fleece-lined leather aircrew jacket with a high collar.
One day, while he was still at Auffay, France, Ira was standing
outside when Col. Phelan came by in a Peep. He stopped, jumped
out, and went up to Ira, yelling, "Soldier, don't you know that if
captured in that jacket you could be shot as a spy? And if so, why
are you wearing it?" In the innocence of youth, Ira replied, "Because
it's warm, sir." Col. Phelan stood completely silent, glaring at Ira,
then turned and got back in the Peep, and drove away. Ira believes
to this day that he was stifling a laugh. He said Col. Phelan was
really a nice guy.
Pat Koenig [B] writes that she is doing very well, and will
definitely be at Abilene. Don Ferguson also plans to attend.
I attended a very nice Memorial Day service held at the Virginia
Lt. Col. Joe Phelan's [HQ] Sherman tank - "Home, Heaven or
Hell in '45." Standing next to the tank is Sergeant Major Robert
R. Johnson. Picture from Don Ferguson's collection
War Memorial here in Richmond. There were two featured
speakers. One was a retired judge who had graduated from Virginia
Military Institute and entered the service immediately afterwards,
serving as a combat officer with the Second and Third Armored
Divisions in five campaigns in the European Theater: Normandy,
Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes and Central Europe. The
other, Col. John O'Halloran, USA (Retired) related a vivid account
of action and sacrifice in World War II, and concluded with a poem
"A Soldier Died Today," which was very moving. There was a
presentation of service flags, with service songs, and the Richmond
Pipes and Drums played "Amazing Grace." Then there was a rifle
salute, causing me and several other ladies to jump involuntarily.
Our Memorial is engraved with the names of all the soldiers who
died in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and the Persian
Gulf War. A beautiful sculpture of a woman entitled "Memory,"
with her head bowed and her hand over her heart, keeps constant
vigil over the names of Virginians who have died in battle. Wish I
had a picture of it to include with this issue, but will get one for a
Well, news is scarce once again this month, so until next month,
stay well, and keep our troops in your prayers.
m 12th ARMORED DIVISION -
Donald Roth of D Company.
Picture from Jess Russell's collection
Dear Fellow Hellcat:
It may interest you to know that as of today, there are 1,477
living Veterans of the 12th Armored Division. I am fortunate to be
one of the 'babies' of the Division because I joined the 12th when
they shut down ASTP and moved a bunch of us from Texas A & M
along with a lot of other schools to Barkeley. When I arrived at
Barkeley I was asked, "Do you want Tanks or Infantry?" ...what did
I know?... so I picked Tanks. I guess it was a good choice because
I'm still here. 1,477 of us are 'still here' and that is what I want to
talk to you about.
We have had such a strong group of men over the years and we
have collected many, many artifacts and personal oral histories
which now reside in our awesome museum in Abilene, TX. One
man that wrote to me commented that "Abilene is fairly close to
hell in the minds of many and about as distant from us as Mars is -
but it exists and that's better than nothing- so I say take what exists
and run with it!"
What a shame it will be if our history and achievements during
World War II disappear from our society. It sort of leaves you with
an empty feeling that after all the combat and hell we went through,
not to mention the many hours of work and money poured into
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Twelfth Armored Division Association (U.S.). Hellcat News, (Fullerton, Calif.), Vol. 57, No. 11, Ed. 1, July 2004, newspaper, July 2004; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth410537/m1/16/?q=12th%20Armored%20Memorial%20Museum: accessed August 12, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting The 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum.