Pool, Lafayette, CW2

Deceased
 
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Last Rank
Chief Warrant Officer 2
Last Service Branch
Armor
Last Primary MOS
795 -Tank Crewman
Last MOS Group
Armor (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1941-1944, 795 , 3rd Armored Division/Combat Command "A"
Service Years
1941 - 1960
Official/Unofficial US Army Certificates
Cold War Certificate

Armor

Chief Warrant Officer 2



Six Overseas Service Bars


 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Texas
Texas
Year of Birth
1919
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SFC Edwin Sierra to remember Pool, Lafayette, CW2.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Odem
Last Address
Bexar County

Date of Passing
May 30, 1991
 
Location of Interment
Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery - San Antonio, Texas
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Section 9 Site 1669

 Official Badges 

Belgian Fourragere US Army Retired (Pre-2007) US Army Retired 3rd Armored Division




 Unofficial Badges 

Armor Shoulder Cord Cold War Medal Order of Saint George (Bronze) Cold War Veteran

Silver Star Service Banner


 Military Association Memberships
Military Order of the Purple HeartAssociation of 3d Armored Division Veterans
  1944, Military Order of the Purple Heart - Assoc. Page
  1960, Association of 3d Armored Division Veterans - Assoc. Page


 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
AWARDS AND CITATIONS Distinguished Service Cross Awarded for actions during the World War II (Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Staff Sergeant Lafayette G. Pool, United States Army, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with the 32d Armored Regiment, 3d Armored Division, in action against enemy forces from 29 to 31 August 1944. Staff Sergeant Pool's intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 3d Armored Division, and the United States Army. General Orders: Headquarters, First U.S. Army, General Orders No. 59 (1945) Action Date: August 29 - 31, 1944 Service: Army Rank: Staff Sergeant Company: Company I Regiment: 32d Armored Regiment Division: 3d Armored Division



Pool served with Combat Command A (CCA) of the US 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" I-III. The first lasted from 23 June until 29 June, when CCA attacked for the first time at Villiers-Fossard. Pool's M4A1 was hit by a Panzerfaust causing him and his crew to bail out of the stricken tank. The second lasted from around 1 July 1944 to 17 August, when Pool was leading CCA in the process of clearing remaining German forces from the village of Fromental.  This tank was knocked out by friendly fire of a P-38.

The third and last was destroyed on the night of 15 September while CCA was attempting to force the Siegfried Line at Munsterbusch, southwest of Aachen. The tank was hit by an ambushing Panther, and while Pool was trying to back his damaged Sherman up, the Panther hit it a second time. The second round caught the tank on the edge of a ditch and flipped it over. The same round blew Pool out of the commander's hatch, seriously slashing open one of his legs with a shell splinter. The leg was so badly mangled that it had to be amputated. As a result Pool would not return to amateur boxing after the war.  He kept the same crew throughout the war, with CPL Wilbert "Red" Richards as the driver, PFC Bert Close as the assistant driver and bow gunner, CPL Willis Oiler as the gunner and T/5 Del Boggs as loader.
 

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 enlisted in the Army and was sent into the Transportation Corps. With the intervention of General Allen, he finally managed to "come home" to the 3rd Armored Division where he would be an instructor in automotive mechanics He retired from the 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.


 
THE TEXAS TANKER
32nd Armored Regiment,
3rd Armored Division
 
This story is about a tank commander who destroyed 258 enemy vehicles, but he never was awarded the Knights Cross. He was never presented to Hitler, he never wore a fancy black uniform with death heads and S.S. runes, and he never commanded a Panther or Tiger. The reason? He was an American GI and he set the above record in a Sherman tank! Contrary to popular belief other countries besides Germany were capable of producing tank aces too.
 
Staff Sergeant Lafayette G. Pool was typical of some of the fine tankers produced by the U.S. Army during World War II. Pool was born on July 23, 1919, on a farm in Odem, Texas. He graduated from high school in Taft, Texas in 1938. Pool tried to enlist in the Navy. He was turned down due to an eye injury, although his twin brother was accepted. he then enrolled in an al boys Catholic Academy where he graduated as class valedictorian. Afterwards, he enrolled in Texas, A and I College, as an engineering major.
 
He quit to enlist in the Army on June 13, 1941. He took basic training at San Antonio, Texas, and then was sent to Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, to the newly forming Third Armor Division. Pool joined the Third Battalion, 32nd Armored Regt, when the division was reorganized in January of 1942. He took time out from training to get married to Evelyn Wright in December of 1942.
 
Here's a shot of my M4A1 (76) as crewed by Lafayette Pool in Late Summer of 1944. - Scott Dimmick
 
Pool had been a boxer in college and he joined the division's golden gloves team. He became regional champ in his weight class and was to go to the national meet in Chicago, Illinois in the spring of 1942. He turned down the opportunity because the division had gotten a shipment of new M-4 Sherman Tanks and Pool wanted to start training with his men on the M-4 immediately.
 
Pool was a tall, lanky 6'3" Texan, who drove his men and himself and trained them rigorously. He always wanted things done right and would not tolerate slipshod methods, whether in maintenance, gunnery, or driving. He demanded the best out of his men and he got it.
 
The 3rd Bn, 32nd Armor moved to the Desert Training Center near Victorville, California, followed by final training at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.
 
Before sailing to England in September, 1943, Pool was promoted to Staff Sergeant in Company I. He was also given the opportunity to go to OCS, but he turned it down as he was later to turn down a battlefield commission stating "I just want to have one of the best tank crews in the division."
 
His crew consisted of driver, Wilbert "Baby" Richards, one of the best drivers in the ETO according to Pool; Bert "Schoolboy" Close who was just seventeen years old and was his bow gunner. Given the choice of prison on a manslaughter rap or the Army, Del "Jailbird" Boggs elected to be Pool's loader. Willis "Groundhog" Oller was the gunner. Pool said of Oller "He could shoot the eyebrows off a gnat at 1500 yards." He was very quick and alert. One time near Origny in France it was getting dark when the order came down to halt and coil up for the night. Pool opened his mouth to say "Driver, Halt," but found himself looking down the barrel of a German 88mm in the gloom ahead. He said "Gunner, Fire!" and Oller, without hesitation, holed the enemy gun before its crew could recognize the Sherman Tank.
 
While in England Pool did some more boxing. In Liverpool in early 1944 he boxed against Joe Louis. It was meant to be an exhibition bout, but Pool got a little too enthusiastic and rapped Louis a few good ones. Louis then put his arm around Pool and said "White man, I'm going to teach you a big lesson." He then proceeded to give Pool a good going over, although there was no knockout.
 
Tank from the 32nd Armored Regiment. Note the "hedgerow cutter"
 
 
Pool is what we would call today a "hard charger." He was also inclined to have things his own way. He believed that the quickest way home was to smash the German Army to pieces, and he believed that he was the guy with the crew and the tank that could do it. He made friends easily and also made enemies. He had a quick temper and was not above ignoring orders when they didn't suit him.
 
Pool landed at Normandy in June, 1944. His battalion fought its first engagement on June 29, 1944 near Villierfossard, northeast of St. Lo.
 
The loss of Pool's first tank "In The Mood," (all succeeding tanks were called "In The Mood!") was to a Panzerfaust at the village of Les Forges not far from the beach-head. Pool's crew survived and got a new Sherman, and pushed on undauntedly against the Panzers.
 
Falaise Gap on August 7, 1944, was the big battle and Pool was, as usual, right up front. As the 3d Armored Division was near to closing the ring with the British forces around the Germans, Lt. Col. Walter B. Richardson, commanding task force Y of CCA, 32nd Armored heard Pool say over the radio "Ain't got the heart to kill um," meaning the Germans. The rattle of machinegun fire came over the radio followed by Pool's Texas drawl "Watch those bastards run, - give it to 'em Close."
 
   
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Lafayette G. Pool was born on July 23, 1919, on a farm in Odem, Texas. He graduated from high school in Taft, Texas in 1938. He attended an all boys Catholic Academy where he graduated as class valedictorian. Afterwards, he enrolled in Texas, A and I College, as an engineering major. He left college to enlist in the Army on June 13, 1941. He took basic training at San Antonio, Texas, and then was sent to Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, to the newly forming 3d Armored Division. He landed with his unit at Normandy in June, 1944. As an M4 Sherman Tank Commander in Company I, 3d Battalion, 32d Armored Regiment, he led his crew across France and Belgium and led his Task Force in 21 separate attacks. In 80 days he and his crew destroyed 258 German vehicles, captured 250 German soldiers, and killed an estimated over 1000 German soldiers.  In his final battle SSG Pool was blow from the turret of his tank and his right leg was shattered and had to be removed. He was discharged from the Army in June of 1946.  He was recalled to active duty in 1948 to serve as an instructor with 3d Armored Division at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  He retired from the Army on September 19, 1960 as a Chief Warrant Officer 2d Class. His military decorations included Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, French Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star, Belgium Fourragere. Lafayette Pool passed away in his sleep on May 30, 1991.

 

(From Yet Another Source)

A NATURAL FOR TANKS

Though activated in mid-1941, the 3d Armored Spearhead Division did not go into action until the end of June 1944. Its first action took place in the Villers-Fossard salient north of St Lo. It was during that time that the tankers of the outfit got their first taste of battle. Even though in great disarray after the massed bombing preparatory to the Allied breakout, units of the 2nd Panzer Division still offered resistance.
 

Among the young and excited armored knights of the 32d Regiment, 3d Armored Division was SSgt Lafayette G. Pool, from Sinton, Texas. Pool seemed to be a natural to mechanized warfare. In his very first engagement, his tank, "In the Mood", was responsible for the destruction of over 70 German soldiers and three armored vehicles. He quickly became known as the Texas Tanker.

He had a crew that was also a natural for the task. PFC Richards, the driver, and Corporal Close, the co-driver/machine gunner were ably complemented by Corporal Oller, the gunner and T/5 Boggs, the loader. It was said that Oller saw all of France through the sights of his cannon. He seemed to always have his eyes pressed to that sight, and the sooty imprint of tanker's goggles was a part of his natural look.
 

On one occasion, night had overtaken the tank platoon and Sgt. Pool was about to call it a day. As he opened his mouth to order, Driver, halt the shape of a 40mm dual purpose AA gun emplacement materialized less than 50 feet from In the Mood. He shouted with no warning, Gunner, Fire! Oller, his eyes perpetually pressed against the sights instantly responded, putting a round directly through the enemy gun and taking it out.
 

AN ARMORED MELEE

In another encounter in the late afternoon some days later, Pool's platoon was skirting south of the town of Colombier, France when a German Panther rolled directly in front of the lead tank. It quickly got off two rounds, but the nervous enemy gunner missed both times. Before a third projectile could fly from the long, deadly looking 75mm barrel, Pool's gun barked and ripped the Panther turret from the hull. At that range, even the Sherman could be deadly!
 

As it turned out, they had driven into a veritable armored hornet's nest. Remnants of the 2nd Panzer Division were reconnoitering in the area. Firing began at once and the enemy seemed to come from everywhere. Colonel Richardson, commander of the 32d Regiment could hear the orders and the swearing from the crews as they frantically tried to adjust to the unforeseen encounter. By dark, it was all over. Pool and In the Mood had taken out two enemy tanks and at least two armored cars. Dismounted German crews were fed lead for a late supper by machine gunner Close.
 

The action brought Pool up for another medal. By the time the Siegfried Line had been reached, the young Texas Tanker had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Legion of Merit and the French Croix de Guerre with gold star. He was also twice nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor. By the time Pool was wounded in action near the German border, he and his crew had accounted for the destruction of 258 enemy armored vehicles, taking 250 enemy prisoners and killing over 1,000 German soldiers quite a record for a single tank crew! Pool survived the war and lived to receive high honors from US Armor Association Awards Program. His CO later said of him, Pool is the tanker of tankers.
 

   
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 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1941, Basic Training (Fort Sam Houston, TX), 1
  1941, Basic Training (Camp Beauregard, LA), 1
  1943, Basic Training (Fort Indiantown Gap, PA), 1
 Unit Assignments
3rd Armored Division
  1941-1944, 795 , 3rd Armored Division/Combat Command "A"
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1944-1944 WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Southern France Campaign (1944)
  1944-1944 Northern France Campaign (1944)/Falaise Pocket
  1944-1944 Normandy Campaign (1944)/Battle of St. Lo
 Colleges Attended 
Texas A & I University  -  Kingsville, Texas
  1941-1941, Texas A & I University - Kingsville, Texas
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