From Dan Fong, Web Staff   Pool Index      NEXT

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British author George Forty, a noted international expert on tank warfare, discusses 26 individual soldiers from 8 countries in his book "Tank Aces," published in 1997. The time period of the study covers World War II to the Gulf War ("Desert Storm" - 1991). By eliminating those aces who were officers in command positions of company-level and greater (involved more in general strategy), and those aces who were extraordinary in one or several battle situations only, three men of the original 26 remain, and stand apart in meeting a criteria of continual, front-line, combat brilliance:

  • Lt. Dimitri Lavrinenko - U.S.S.R., WWII
  • SSgt. Lafayette Pool - U.S.A./3AD, WWII
  • SS-Capt. Michael Wittmann - Germany WWII

Listed above in alphabetical order, each of these men repeatedly excelled in situations where they were directly involved in destroying enemy armor and vehicles and killing enemy soldiers. At the same time, each was an inspiring and aggressive leader who repeatedly risked his own life to achieve these missions. Of the three, only Pool survived the war, but was critically wounded in September, 1944, and would eventually lose a leg. As can be extrapolated from George Forty's book, these three soldiers are arguably history's greatest hands-on battlefield tank commanders.

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