Discover Magazine: Memorial Day Parade 1922: Runaway Tank Kills Veteran

Here is an interesting blog post from Discover Magazines website about a tragic accident involving some tanks in a Memorial Day Parade in 1922.  We have posted the first couple paragraphs of the post below.  The entire piece may be read here.

Memorial Day Parade 1922: Runaway Tank Kills Veteran

By Jeremy Hsu

New York City Memorial Day celebrations have featured parades of military hardware almost since the earliest commemorations following the U.S. Civil War. Barely 15 years after that war’s end, Union Army veterans from New Jersey marched alongside a battery of rapid-fire Gatling guns in a New York City parade described as being “intended to eclipse all former demonstrations.” As World War I loomed just beyond the horizon in 1914, crowds cheered a “wicked looking battery of machine gun troop of New York Cavalry” and the “brave array of war equipment” on parade. But in 1922, one unfortunate military veteran was crushed to death between two light “whippet” tanks on parade after one of the armored vehicles’s engines started up for unknown reasons.

The sergeant of the Bronx National Guardsmen of the 27th Tank Company who died in that freak Memorial Day incident was named Julian Stahlschmidt. A board of inquiry later awarded him a posthumous medal of valor for trying to “stop a tank which had run amuck, threatening the lives of throngs who lined the sidewalks watching the parade.” It’s not clear from the initial New York Times story whether or not the tank had actually been threatening to crush crowds of spectators lining Riverside Drive along Manhattan’s Upper West Side. But it does seem that Stahlschmidt was trying to switch off the runaway tank’s motor when he slipped and fell between the armored vehicle and the tank lined up ahead of it.


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