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INTRODUCTION
By 3AD.com Staff

 

He was simply the U.S. Army's best tank-crew and tank-platoon commander of WWII. That's a very lofty claim, but agreed upon by leading military historians and armor experts, and one where no serious challenger for Pool's title has ever been brought forward.

Texas born and raised, Lafayette G. "Lafe" Pool (1919-1990), even today, is to U.S. tankers what Richard Bong and David McCampbell are to the USAF and US Navy - their "Top Gun," when considering all wars. He served with the 3rd Platoon, "I" Company, 32nd Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Division from 1941 to 1944. During a brief 83 days in combat in France, Belgium and Germany, Pool and his tank crew were credited with destroying 258 enemy vehicles, including tanks, self-propelled guns, and armored cars. He and his crew killed over 1,000 enemy soldiers and took over 250 prisoners.

His was the point tank in 21 full-scale engagements, and he survived many harrowing close calls with death. Fighting from three different Sherman tanks, Pool and his crew knocked out no less than 12 German tanks, most of which were superior to the Shermans in terms of armor and firepower.

Pool was twice recommended for the Congressional Medal of Honor, but an "infantry" mentality Army Recommendation Board decided that, since tanks were crew-served weapons, he did not deserve the Medal. But Pool, of course, was awarded other major Army medals, including the Distinguished Service Cross, the Legion of Merit, the Silver Star, and the Purple Heart. He also received the Belgian Fourragère and the French Legion of Honor.

In his last battle, on September 19, 1944, near Stolberg, Germany, Pool was blown from the turret of his tank from a double-hit by German shells. Severely wounded, but fully conscious, he was rushed to a medical unit, but would eventually lose a leg. He was angry about having to leave the war "way too soon, " he later said. He told a Stars & Stripes reporter, "I was just getting started. This isn't fair." Given a prosthesis, he returned to active duty in 1948 and served until 1960, retiring as a Chief Warrant Officer 2.

Lafayette Pool died at his home in Killeen, Texas, on June 1, 1990, at the age of 71 and is buried at the military cemetery on Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He left a wife, three sons, and three daughters. Pool's oldest son, 1st Lt. Jerry L. Pool, Army Special Forces Green Beret, was reported missing in Cambodia in March, 1970, and was declared dead in 1978.

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