House Church Talk - Tank Battalion 761
david at housechurch.org
Thu May 27 16:19:23 EDT 2004
Hi all readers,
Here's a portion of an inspiring story of a suppressed group of unsung
heroes. Think of them as "the lowly laity" - too unimportant, untrained,
and unskilled to really make much of a difference... But no!
Consider today your own empowerment by Christ, our Great commander, to
serve in his army against a soon-to-be vanquished foe. If you happen to
consider yourself unqualified to serve, that may well indicate that you
are indeed qualified to serve.
Blessed are the poor in spirit - those who know their own weaknesses and
Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come
upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all
Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
"Occupy until I come." Luke 19:13
May 27, 2004 -- In a new book, former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tells
the story of a little-known black tank battalion in World War II. He was
inspired to write Brothers in Arms after learning a family friend had
been a member of the unit.
Abdul-Jabbar first learned of the 761st Tank Battalion when he attending
the showing of a film documentary 12 years ago. At the screening, he ran
into family friend Leonard "Smitty" Smith, a New York transit policeman.
It turns out Smith had been a gunner in the 761st and had won the Bronze
Star for valor in battle.
Though they were trained for battle, most black units sent to Europe
during World War II ended up working as stevedores, or driving trucks or
ambulances. Because of racism, "they weren't allowed to fight in combat
units," Abdul-Jabbar says.
The 761st Tank Battalion was deployed as a public relations effort to
maintain support from the black community for the war effort. But faced
with heavy casualties in the summer of 1944, Gen. George Patton was
desperate for more tankers and the unit was pressed into battle. The
761st had been used to help train other tank units for two years prior to
its deployment. Consequently, the black unit was better trained than most
of its white counterparts, Abdul-Jabbar says.
The 761st fought in the Battle of the Bulge, saw combat in five countries
and helped liberate dozens of villages and towns and several
concentration camps. But racist attitudes in the military culture
prevented the 761st from receiving medals and other honors accorded white
"This was Patton's best tank unit and they didn't get any recognition
because whites did not look upon blacks as having any competence as
fighting men," Abdul-Jabbar says.
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