House Church Talk - Tank Battalion 761

David Anderson david at
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

    David Anderson 

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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