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"Tank Hero of World War II, Minus A Leg,
Returns to Duty With 3rd Armored"

By Marion Porter
Louisville Courier-Jounrnal
[Primary newspaper for Ft. Knox, KY, area]
September 25, 1949

Five years ago to the day he was "knocked out" of the Third Armored Division, Sgt. Lafayette G. Pool, 30, wearing his battle decorations, his battle scars, and a wooden leg, returned to the Third Armored Division.

There was sound and fury when he was knocked out of his tank by a direct hit from an enemy gun, September 19, 1944, near Stolberg, Germany. And there was pomp and circumstance recently when the 6-foot-2 Texan was welcomed home by the Third's honor guard at Fort Knox and a handclasp from Maj. Gen. Roderick R. Allen, commanding officer. (Pool's re-enlistment is part of an Army program to utilize wounded combat veterans in exceptional instances.)

"They shouldn't 'a' gone to all that trouble, but it was mighty nice," said Sergeant Pool, who was THE outstanding tank commander of World War II. Official records show that as the point of the spearhead he led 21 full-scale engagements. He is credited with 1,000 dead Germans, 250 prisoners and 250 enemy vehicles. Twelve of the vehicles destroyed were tanks.

Four tanks had been shot out from under Sergeant Pool. Asked to account for the amazing record made while spearheading attacks from Isigny, France, to Stolberg before he was wounded, he said: "Well, I prayed an awful lot and my wife at home was praying too."He recalled the amazement of the doctor who promised to discharge him "as soon as you walk down to my office on that leg." Pool did walk down to the office just four days after being issued his wooden leg. What the doctor didn't know was that Pool had been practicing on a buddy's wooden leg. The man next to him in the hospital had two artificial legs. Taking surreptitious walks. Pool used one of the borrowed legs while his buddy used the other and a crutch.

After his discharge. Pool opened a filling station and garage at his home in Sinton, Texas. He didn't like it, nor did he like several other businesses he started. He enlisted in the Army and was sent into the Transportation Corps, but finally managed, with the intervention of General Allen, to "come home" to the Third Armored Division where he will be an instructor in automotive mechanics.

"But I'd like to get back into tanks," he said wistfully. He has three sons, aged 5, 3, and 1, all destined to be tankers.

Sergeant Pool wears the Belgian and French Fourragère, the Distinguished Service Cross, Legion of Merit, Silver Star, and Purple Heart -- as well as 17 bits of shrapnel in his neck, and the artificial leg.

"It's all right," he said, giving the leg a resounding smack. "Creaks a little today. I went fishing and overturned the boat and got it wet. Just needs a little oiling."

No member of his crew was injured. He had the same crew all through, the crew he trained as recruits at Camp Polk, La.

"They prayed good, too," grinned Pool, "but they could cuss even better. I'd say, 'Boys, come on, we're leading this one.' And they'd say, 'Why, you blankety blank so-and-so of a so-and-so, you're going to get us all killed.' "

Pool always rode in his tank with the turret open and the upper part of his body out of the tank.

"I like to see where I'm going and who's shooting at me," he explained. "Kinda gave me claustrophobia to be all closed in. If I had been down in the tank like I should have, I would have been killed sure nuff."

(Incidentally, Pool's twin brother was in the Navy and in every naval battle in the Far East as well as the Pearl Harbor bombing and came through unscratched.)

Injured in the neck and leg, Pool spent 22 months in hospitals before he was discharged. A Golden Gloves champ and winner of 41 out of 41 boxing matches in the Army, he described his 42d fight, "the fight for my life - the toughest."

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