75 years ago today with the Army of Occupation in soon-to-be West Germany.
Original Caption 2: “Private Eugene Hamilton of Huntington, Long Island, New York, guards the 761st Tank Battalion tanks.”
The famed “Black Panthers” of the 761st earned a Presidental Unit Citation while part of Patton’s Third Army. A segregated unit, its 30 black (of 36) officers included Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson.
In the distance in the above photo are M4 Sherman medium tanks under tarps while PVT Hamilton is passing “Devil Dogs,” what looks to be an early model M24 Chaffee light tank, which may be new as the unit had used M5 Stuarts as their light track during the push across Northern Europe the year before.
They have been called “one of the most effective tank battalions in World War II.” In all, the battalion earned almost 300 Purple Hearts– impressive for a 700-man unit. This is in addition to a Medal of Honor for SSG Ruben Rivers, 11 Silver, and 69 Bronze Stars. All were garnered in their seven-month drive from Normandy to the Gunskirchen concentration camp in Austria where they linked up with the Russians pushing from the East.
The 761st was deactivated on 1 June 1946 in Germany. When it was reactivated in 1955, it was fully integrated.