Harry A. "Paddy" Flint

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Harry Albert Flint
PaddyFlint with GenPatton.jpg
Colonel "Paddy" Flint (right) confers with General George Patton and another officer.
Nickname(s) "Paddy"
Born (1888-02-12)February 12, 1888
St. Johnsbury, Vermont
Died July 24, 1944(1944-07-24) (aged 56)
Caen, France
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Army seal United States Army
Years of service 1912–1944
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Commands held 39th Infantry Regiment
Battles/wars

World War I
World War II

Awards Distinguished Service Cross (2)
Silver Star (3)
Legion of Merit
Purple Heart

Colonel Harry Albert "Paddy" Flint (February 12, 1888 - July 24, 1944) was an officer of the United States Army during World War II. Although at 56 years of age he was considerably older than was generally acceptable for field-grade front-line infantry officers, he is most known for leading the 39th Infantry Regiment from its service in Sicily until he was mortally wounded six weeks after D-Day.[1]

AAA-0[edit]

The 39th Infantry regiment's slogan, "Anything, Anytime, Anywhere - Bar Nothing", also known as the Triple-A Bar Nothing slogan, was given to the regiment by Colonel Flint. This slogan, in which the regiment took great pride, was displayed on their helmets and vehicles, even in combat. Using such readily identifiable markings was against orders, as they could give the enemy valuable intelligence as to the units and leaders they faced in battle, but Flint disregarded the risk, declaring, "The enemy who sees our regiment in combat, if they live through the battle, will know to run the next time they see us coming." When Flint received command of the regiment it was somewhat of a lackluster outfit, but his enthusiasm and this slogan helped to turn it into an effective fighting unit.

The best example of useful gimmickry during World War II was the "AAA-O" of Paddy Flint. When Colonel Flint assumed command of the 39th Infantry in Sicily in 1943, it was not a good fighting outfit. Paddy immediately had "AAA-O" stenciled on the helmet of every man in the regiment.
When questioned by his corps commander, who had issued orders against such stenciling on helmets, Paddy explained, "That means anything, anywhere, any time bar nothing." It was so-explained by General Omar N. Bradley in A Soldier's Story, but junior officers in the 39th, said they could lick, "Anybody, anyplace, any time bar none." Regardless of the version, it worked, and Flint made the 39th one of the best-fighting outfits in Europe.[2]

The AAA-0 slogan also showed up in a strange stamp cancellation that had some people wondering what on earth it meant. Apparently, Paddy's 39th Infantry had so impressed the German Army that they used the unit's slogan/logo on a pseudo-cancellation on a propaganda postage stamp. An article by Jerry Jensen, "A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words" at the Wayback Machine (archived October 12, 2007), explains the story.

Combat Service[edit]

Flint joined the 39th Infantry Regiment in Sicily, and his assignment to this unit was apparently because it was thought that his great energy would improve the performance of what to this time had been a mediocre unit. In the event this proved correct, and the 39th evolved into an exemplary combat formation. Flint's age would normally have kept him in a staff position in a support role, but soldier's talk in the 39th was that he had prevailed upon General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had been a plebe (or freshman) at West Point when Colonel Flint was a first-classman, for an infantry assignment at the front. An old cavalryman, Flint considered that France, was his "graduation exercise" as an infantry soldier.

He gained some notoriety in the Allied command for his activity, with Patton commenting at one point that "Paddy Flint is clearly nuts, but he fights well."[3] In a letter to his wife, Beatrice, written on June 17, 1944, Patton wrote, prophetically: "Paddy is in and took a town. He expects to be killed and probably will be."[4]

Death and Burial[edit]

During the Normandy invasion, while advancing on the Saint-Lô-Périers road, Paddy's outfit was held up by heavy mortar fire. Leading from his customary place on the front, the Colonel and a rifle patrol soon found the trouble. Colonel Flint reported by radio over the walkie-talkie: "Have spotted pillbox. Will start them cooking."

He called for a tank, and rode atop it in a rain of fire as it sprayed the hedgerows. During the attack, the tank driver was wounded, stopping it, whereupon Paddy crawled down, and went forward on foot with his men. As he led the patrol into the shelter of a farmhouse he was hit by a sniper's bullet. Aid men soon came up, loaded the Colonel on a stretcher, and as they started for the rear, one of men told him: "Remember, Paddy, you can't kill an Irishman—you can only make him mad." Colonel Flint smiled. On the next day, 24 July 1944, he died of his wounds.

Colonel Flint is buried at Section 2, Site 310 at the Arlington National Cemetery.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Anything, Anytime, Anywhere Bar Nothing: Remembering "Paddy" Flint -- Journal of America's Military Past Spring 1997 (ppg 52-66), Summer 1997 (ppg 71-81) and Fall 1997 (ppg 61-71)
  2. ^ Leadership for the 1980s, an article in the Air University Review, September/October 1983
  3. ^ Patton's Quotes
  4. ^ Patton Papers, Library of Congress, box 18

External links[edit]