Spearhead - Adam Makos

The real name of this book is "Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives in World War II". I don't know why I chose this book other than maybe thinking about my Uncle, who fought in Italy.  

 

This is a book seen through an American tanker's eyes, along with researched observations of some of the dead, and interviews with the few that lived.  Spearhead also includes interviews with a German tanker that was a gunner in one of the three German tanks left to keep Cologne from being taken by the American forces.  The common theme in this book is that both sides were not out with the main mission of killing the enemy, but to keep their "tank family" alive.

 

Spearhead is a book about Clarence Smoyer, a tanker that came to France three weeks after D-Day and the book picks up about two months after that Normandy invasion with the Germans exiting France.  Makos takes through this time, intertwining the lives of the people surrounding Smoyer, including the "dough's" to covering the life of a German tanker, Gustav Schaefer, and his and his tank family's interaction of their Panzer tank and their confrontation with the American Pershing tank.

 

Spearhead is a simple, easy to read book that is a re-written telling of stories put into history colored by Makos verbiage and some small dramatization.  The book ends with Smoyer fighting PTSD brought on by seeing a video of a car traveling down the street and being shot up by the American tanks, only to find out minutes later it was carrying civilians.  To try to find out what really happened he goes to Cologne to meet with Gustav and talk about what went happened on the streets of where they battled.

 

I teared up reading the last chapter, having to stop and relive the last time I talked with my Uncle.  My wife was doing all our family history and the only person that would talk about my father's service in the Pacific and my Uncle's service in Italy was another Uncle.  I guess both my father and Uncle had PTSD and neither would talk about it.  One thing my Uncle told me was that when he and the men under him were in a house in Italy it started taking artillery hits so my Uncle ordered his men into an empty swimming pool in the back yard for protection. When half his men were in the pool it took a direct hit, killing everyone inside the pool.  He cried.  We didn't ask him any more questions.