The Kansas City Star has posted a story about US Army veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Herbert Hoover Burr as part of their “Hometown Heroes” series. Burr was a tank gunner in the 11th Armored Division who was awarded for bravery on several occasions during the fighting in Europe in 1944-1945.
On March 19, 1945, just outside the German village of Dörrmoschel, an American tank, already ablaze from a rocket strike, rounded a corner and and surprised an enemy anti-tank gun crew in the road.
Point-blank range. Surprised the tank driver, too. All the Germans had to do was pull the lanyard and blast a shell — big enough to blow up a building — into the tank. But they didn’t. Probably because the tank was so badly damaged it didn’t appear to pose much of a threat.
What they didn’t know: The 24-year-old soldier driving the tank was a scrappy Kansas City house painter who liked to drink beer and fight.
No, Herbert Hoover Burr, alone in that tank, did not have a working gun. But at that point in that day and in a war that had gone so long, he didn’t need one. He dropped the hammer and headed straight for the German 88 mm anti-tank gun.
“So unexpected and daring was his assault that he was able to drive his tank completely over the gun, demolishing it and causing its crew to flee in confusion,” said the citation for the Medal of Honor that Burr received for actions that day.