The Salisbury Post has published an article about the remaining veterans of the 737th tank battalion. Nicknamed “Patton’s Spearheaders” the 737th participated in five major battles, including Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland and Central Europe. Military records show the battalion spent 299 days in actual combat, starting with its landing at Omaha Beach July 12, 1944. It saw some of its fiercest action in the Battle of the Bulge. The article notes that at the recent reunion for the 737th, only three members were present, all of whom are over 90 years old.
In past reunions, the men’s stories touched on living and praying in foxholes, catching glimpses of Patton, being knocked off tanks by exploding shells nearby, wearing handed-down leather helmets from high school and college football teams, driving tanks over pontoon bridges and recuperating in French and English hospitals.
Bob Kluttz, a tank gunner in Co. A., said none of the tanks he was in were ever lost, though he saw a German Tiger, with its 88 mm cannon, take out tanks in front and behind his.
Kluttz said he wore out two 75 mm cannon on his own tanks before freezing his feet and being sent back to an English hospital for three months with frostbite.
Deal had shrapnel rip into his legs when he tripped on a land mine.
Pritchett had to drive a 15-ton Kenworth truck onto the battlefields to tow away disabled tanks. “I’m sure I pulled a tank of Jim’s that got knocked out,” Pritchett said.
He often teamed up on those wrecker missions with his buddy Richey, a tank mechanic who had been trained at Fort Knox. “If I had to have any help, I would use him,” Pritchett said.
Read the full article here.