The Lucky Ones: Legacy of Norbert Gerling, WWII Tank Destroyer
Two months prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a young man from the rural farming community of Henley, Missouri received his draft notice and, within the passage of days, was inducted as a soldier in the U.S. Army. Though Norbert Gerling entered the service for a one-year term, Pearl Harbor changed everything, thus compelling him to remain in the military for the duration of the war. This book chronicles Gerling's initial training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and his eventual assignment to Company C, 609th Tank Destroyer Battalion. The veteran describes his experiences traveling 1,200 miles across the battered European landscape as a gunner aboard an M-18 Hellcat tank destroyer. Based upon reflections and interviews with the late Sergeant Gerling, and cross-referenced with scores of historical resources, this book affords the reader the opportunity to follow Gerling from the receipt of his draft notice to his landing on Utah Beach in September 1944. It continues with his participation in the Battle of the Bulge, his receipt of a Bronze Star medal for his role in the rescue of a stranded tank and concludes with his time spent as a member of the occupational forces in Germany prior to his return home. This is a story of a young man who experienced the hardships of combat with a tank destroyer battalion- a unique military organization that was born and phased-out all within the period of World War II.