Lafayette G. Pool
|Lafayette Green Pool|
Lafayette G. Pool in 1949
|Birth name||Lafayette Green Pool|
July 23, 1919|
Odem, Texas, United States
|Died||May 30, 1991
Killeen, Texas, United States
|Buried at||Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas, United States|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1941-1946
|Rank||Chief Warrant Officer 2|
|Unit||3rd Platoon, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 32nd Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Division|
|Spouse(s)||Evelyn (née Wright) Pool (1942-1991; his death)|
|Relations||John K. Pool (father)
Mary Lee (née Laycock) Pool (mother)
Lafayette Green Pool (July 23, 1919 – May 30, 1991) was an American tank-crew and tank-platoon commander in World War II and is widely recognized as the US tank ace of aces,[page needed] credited with 12 confirmed tank kills and 258 total armoured vehicle and self-propelled gun kills, over 1,000 German soldiers killed, and 250 more taken as prisoners of war all of which took place in a combat career that covered only 81 days in action from 27 June to 15 September 1944 with three different Shermans. He received many medals, including the Distinguished Service Cross, the Legion of Merit, the Silver Star, the Purple Heart, the Belgian Fourragère, and the French Légion d'honneur.
Lafayette Green Pool was born in Odem, Texas, on July 23, 1919 to John K. (1894-1979) and Mary Lee (née Laycock) Pool (1899-1950) He had a twin brother, John Thomas, (who served in the Navy during World War II) and a sister, Tennie Mae. Lafayette attended high school in Taft, Texas, graduating in 1938; he later attended Texas College of Arts and Industries in Kingsville, Texas, studying engineering and participating very successfully in amateur boxing. Pool left college after one year when he was inducted into military service in the summer of 1941.
World War II service
Lafayette G. Pool was drafted into the United States Army on June 14, 1941 from Fort Sam Houston in his native Texas and assigned to the new 3rd Armored Division. Pool married Evelyn Wright while on leave in December 1942. While in training at the Desert Training Center and Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, Pool was noted as a very aggressive commander, always wanting the best from his men; Pool even refused a commission as an officer so he could remain close to the front. Pool was promoted to Staff Sergeant and deployed overseas with the 3rd Armored Division in September 1943.
Pool served with the 3rd Platoon of Company I, 32nd Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Division in France between June and September 1944. He successively commanded three Sherman tanks; an M4A1, and two M4A1(76)Ws, all of which bore the nickname "IN THE MOOD" (they were not suffixed with a letter or Roman numeral) He kept the same crew throughout the majority of the war. Corporal Wilbert "Baby" Richards was the driver, Private First Class Bertrand "School Boy" Close was the assistant driver and bow gunner, Corporal Willis "Ground Hog" Oller was the gunner, and Technician Fifth Grade Delbert "Jailbird" Boggs was the loader.
Pool's first tank, an M4A1, lasted from June 23 until June 29, when Combat Command A attacked for the first time at Villiers-Fossard. It was hit by a Panzerfaust, causing Pool and his crew to bail out of the stricken tank. Pool's second tank, his first M4A1(76)W, lasted from around July 1, 1944 to August 17, when he was leading CCA in the process of clearing remaining German forces from the village of Fromental. This tank was knocked out by friendly fire from a P-38. Pool's third and last tank, another M4A1(76)W, was destroyed on the night of September 15, 1944 while CCA was attempting to penetrate the Siegfried Line at Munsterbusch, Germany, southwest of Aachen. The tank was hit by an ambushing Panther, and while Pool's driver was trying to back his damaged Sherman up, the Panther hit it a second time. Positioned precariously on the edge of a ditch, the force of the second round caught the tank and tipped it over. The round killed Pool's replacement gunner, Private First Class Paul King, (Corporal Oller had been temporarily transferred back to the United States) and threw Pool out of the commander's hatch, severely injuring one of his legs with shrapnel. The leg was so badly mangled that it later had to be amputated eight inches above the knee. As a result, Pool would not return to amateur boxing after the war.
Honors and awards
Later life and death
After 22 months of rehabilitation and being fitted with a prosthesis, Pool opened a filling station and garage at his home in Sinton, Texas, followed by several other businesses, before he was sent to the Transportation Corps. With the intervention of General Roderick R. Allen, he finally managed to "come home" to the 3rd Armored Division in 1948, where he became an instructor in automotive mechanics.
Lafayette G. Pool retired from the U.S. Army on September 19, 1960 with the rank of Chief Warrant Officer Second Class at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. Afterwards he went to business college, followed by a job as a preacher for $25.00 a week. He also coached little league baseball. Pool passed away in his sleep on May 30, 1991, in Killeen, Texas, at the age of 71. Pool is interred at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas. He was survived by his wife Evelyn, three sons, (Captain Jerry Lynn Pool was declared missing in action in Vietnam in 1970) and four daughters.
In popular culture
- The nickname given to Pool by his crew, "War Daddy", was used for the fictional tank commander depicted in the 2014 film Fury.
- In the free-to-play online game World of Tanks, the Pool's Medal is awarded when a player destroys ten to thirteen enemy tanks in a battle.
- Forty, George (1997). Tank Aces: From Blitzkrieg to the Gulf War. Motorbooks Intl. ISBN 0750914475.
- Woolner, Frank (September 22, 1944). "THE TEXAS TANKER". YANK Magazine. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
- Sewell, Stephen. "DETECTIVE WORK: LAFAYETTE POOL'S THREE TANKS". 3AD.com. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
- "Lafayette Pool - Introduction". 3rd Armored Division History Foundation. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
- Fong, Dan. "SSgt Lafayette Pool with brother John Thomas Pool". 3AD.com. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
- Kleffman, Dean; Kleffman, Nan (1998). "THE FORGOTTEN TANK ACE: Staff Sergeant Latayette G. Pool, an American to Remember". Journal of Military Ordnance (March 1998). Retrieved 10 March 2017.
- Sewell, Stephen. "EXPLODING A FEW MYTHS ABOUT WORLD WAR II ARMOR". 3AD.com. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
- 33rd map
- Porter, Marion (September 25, 1949). "Tank Hero of World War II, Minus A Leg, Returns to Duty With 3rd Armored". Louisville Courier-Journal.
- Pool, Lafayette G. "MY PUPS". 3AD.com. Retrieved 10 March 2017.