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A History of the 714th Tank Battalion

Powerful Essays
A History of the 714th Tank Battalion, 1942-45

The men of the 714th Tank Battalion served their country in its greatest time of need. A key element of the 12th Armored Division, the 714th fought in harsh conditions against a desperate German enemy for five consecutive months, driving the Nazi Armies from France and back into the German heartland.

The 12th Armored Division was activated on 15 September 1942 at a freshly built Camp Campbell, Kentucky, and soldiers from across the nation began arriving to fill the division's ranks on 24 October 1942. The governors of both Kentucky and Tennessee participated in the activation ceremonies, in which Major General Carlos Brewer was named commander of the forming division.

Young Roy Zerby was drafted away from his job of washing cars in Bellafonte, Pennsylvania, to eventually become Sergeant Zerby, Communications Chief for Company D, 714th Tank Battalion. Sergeant Zerby postponed his dream of a better job and livelihood to serve his country. Others like Alvin L. Cooper of Northampton, Massachusetts, volunteered "two steps ahead of the draft board" in order to avoid the National Conscription Act. Cooper quit his position as a Glazing Machine Operator at the International Silver Company and left his Public Accounting classes to become a Surgical Technician in the 714th Battalion's Medical Detachment.

A month after graduating from high school in June of 1940, young Othal T. Parsons joined the army to "serve my country, beat the draft, and become a bigshot." He was lured by the Army recruiting posters clarioning "I WANT YOU." Parsons worked his way up through four different armored divisions as an enlisted man until he became Second Lieutenant Othal T. Parsons, Mortar Pla...

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...r Brownwood." Hellcat News, 20 July 1944.

"Hellcat Nickname Now Deserved, Division Thanks." The Stars and Stripes, 10 March 1945.

"Hellcats Take Field for Intensive Training." Hellcat News, 30 March 1944.

Malis, Steve. "Armor of the 12th Played Role in Hastening V-E." Beachhead News, 14 July 1945.

Parsons, Othal T. Interview by author, 17 April 1995. Mail questionnaire. 12th Armored Division Historical Project, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas.

"Tank Gunnery Program Gets Official Praise." Hellcat News, 9 March 1944.

Zerby, Roy M. Interview by author, 10 April 1995. Mail questionnaire. 12th Armored Division Historical Project, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas.

Zerby, Roy M. Interview by author, 28 March 1996. Mail questionnaire. 12th Armored Division Historical Project, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas.
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