"A Birthday Gift From The Enemy": It is Sgt. Craig's birthday, and the crew of the Haunted Tank have gotten him a birthday cake. As they are presenting it to him, they are ambushed by the Germans from the tree line. A huge explosion goes off between Sgt. Craig and the others and Craig, believing
- Sorry I had to cool you off this way... I heard everythin'... remember... you're a soldier first, a son second! The lootenant's got his orders... we got ours! The Germans are killin' our men... on that hill! Don't let 'em die... 'cause o' me!
Appearing in "A Birthday Gift From The Enemy"
- General J.E.B. Stuart
- Easy Company
- German Infantry soldiers
- German Infantry captain
- Doctor Keller
- Soldat Hauptman Shiele
- American Infantry soldiers
- German flamethrower
- German Model 24 Stielhandgranate stick grenade
- The Haunted Tank
- American Renault M1917 "Mosquito" light tank
Synopsis for "A Birthday Gift From The Enemy"
It is Sgt. Craig's birthday, and the crew of the Haunted Tank have gotten him a birthday cake. As they are presenting it to him, they are ambushed by the Germans from the tree line. A huge explosion goes off between Sgt. Craig and the others and Craig, believing the others to be dead, begins to experience flashbacks from his time in World War 1. Believing he is back in the Great War after his tank crew had been slaughtered, he begins to fire wildly into the trees. His machine gun mows down the Germans attacking. Just as one German is about to chuck a grenade at the tank, the man is shot by Craig and the grenade falls to the ground. It explodes, killing the remaining Germans. The others from the Haunted Tank, shaken and bruised but alive, quickly recover and rush up to their tank to find Sgt. Craig hanging down unconscious from the turret gun. They pull him inside and take off for the nearest field hospital. Along the way, Jeb asks his ancestor's ghost if Sgt. Craig will live. The General responds with only a cryptic message... he will survive only if he gets a birthday present from the enemy.
Before they can reach the field hospital, Jeb receives a direct order from command to change course and head for Buzzard's Castle on top of Hill 319 where the Germans have the infantry pinned down and trapped. Despite his friend's wounds, he orders Gus to change course. Eddie pleads with Gus and the others to disobey the order, only to get a slap in the face from his father who has finally regained consciousness. Sgt. Craig tells his son that he's a soldier first, and it's a soldier's duty to follow orders, no matter the cost. Eddie agrees and the Haunted Tank turns and heads for Hill 319.
At Buzzard's Castle, Sgt. Rock and Easy Company are pinned down at the bottom of the hill by German firepower from the castle. The Germans have the advantage of the high ground, and are easily picking off the men from Easy Company. Sgt. Rock gathers his men for one final and strong push up the hill to try and take the castle, even though without support he knows it's a suicide mission. Just as the company begins to advance, the Haunted Tank appears to give them the support they need. Jeb tells Easy Company to take cover behind the tank, and Gus floors it. The tank speeds up the hill and slams through the wall of the castle, allowing Easy Company to burst in and over power the Germans inside.
With Hill 319 secure and the Germans taken prisoner, the crew of the Haunted Tank turn once again to caring for their injured comrade. Sgt. Craig has once again slipped into unconsciousness, and they believe he may be bleeding internally. Outside, one of the prisoners, a medical doctor named Keller, requests permission to treat the wounded from the battle - both German and American. Jeb overhears the conversation and asks the doctor to take a look at Sgt. Craig. Eddie and Gus carefully pull Craig from the tank and sit him down, and Dr. Keller tells them that without a blood transfusion he will not survive. Unfortunately, Sgt. Craig's blood type is O-Negative, and the others including his son are of the wrong type. One of the wounded German soldiers speaks up, telling them that he is O-Negative and requests the doctor use his blood. Dr. Keller performs the transfusion, stabilizing Sgt. Craig enough to get him to an American field hospital. The German soldier who saved him tells him that it's good to save a life for a change, and that out side of war they are just two human beings. Craig thanks him and shakes his hand before being taken away for transport. Jeb says goodbye to Sgt. Rock and they take off for the hospital. As they leave, the General appears and Jeb tells him that he was right. Sgt. Craig did receive a birthday present from the enemy!
Appearing in "The Last Charge"
- Private Zebulon "Zeb" Kirk (Dies)
- German Infantry soldiers
- President Calvin Coolidge (Flashback only)
- American Infantry captain
- American Infantry lieutenant
- American Civil War Union cavalry soldiers
- American Indian War cavalry soldiers
- American WW1 Infantry soldiers
- American WW2 Infantry soldiers
- Dutch town mayor
- Willys MB U.S. Army Jeep
- American GMC CCKW cargo truck
Synopsis for "The Last Charge"
New and shining bright, the bugle got its first taste of action at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. In the frontier Indian Campaigns, it signals retreat in more than one setback for the American expansion. But it was on November 11th, 1918 that its days of glory climaxed in the trenches outside Flanders in France when it sounded the cease fire that ended the War to End All Wars. During peacetime, it welcomed President Calvin Coolidge to inspect the troops, sounded taps at a soldiers burial, and called hungry G.I.s to chow. But when World War II started, it was assigned to Private Zeb Kirk, a man who had played first trumpet in some of the country's top bands. Zeb is excited to be given the honor of bugler for the regiment, but the captain informs him that it's only honorary and that all bugle calls are recorded and played over the loudspeakers from now on. Despite being named redundant, Zeb vows to take good care of the bugle.
Zeb and the bugle became inseparable. He cleaned and cared for it an every opportunity, carrying it throughout training and then into battle in Europe. In the Spring of 1945, the company was advancing through Holland, meeting little resistance from enemy troops. The company lieutenant and Zeb are ordered into a nearby village to find the mayor and request permission to set up camp there. As they entered the village, they notice a strange silence over the town, and as they meet with the mayor they can see that he is very nervous and tense. The two realize that the mayor is hiding something, but before they can find out what they are ambushed and captured by German troops who had been hiding. The Germans had arrived in the village before them, and have set up machine guns and troops all around to wait for the unexpecting Americans to arrive. The Germans take the lieutenant and Zeb to a nearby windmill and lock them inside. There are no windows or other doors, but Zeb finds a ladder that leads up to the roof of the windmill. Zeb climbs up to the room with his bugle, determined to send out a warning to the approaching American troops. However, Zeb is spotted as soon as he emerges on the room, and shots. As his lifeless body falls over the side, his hand releases the bugle into the air which falls into the spinning blades of the windmill. The sudden gush of wind created by the blades blows through the bugle, sending out a loud call that no bugle had ever made before. A mile away on the road, the captain hears the bugle call and orders his men to halt and fan out with bayonets fixed. With the Americans coming in from all sides, the Germans are easily overrun and forced out of the village. With the battle won, the lieutenant reports to the captain and it was Zeb that signaled the warning, but that he was certain that he heard the shots before the bugle sounded. The captain orders that Zeb get a burial with full honors, together with his bugle.
Appearing in "Dead Man's Bluff"
- Private Foley (Dies)
- American medic (Dies)
- Japanese Infantry soldiers
- American Captain
- American Infantry soldiers
- Japanese-held island, Pacific Ocean
Synopsis for "Dead Man's Bluff"
Within the underground tunnels deep underneath a Japanese-held island during World War 2, a squad of American soldiers are mapping out the northeast sector of the passageways. With their info, the Americans now have a complete map of the underground tunnels in order to circumvent the Japanese defenses. With their mission complete, they begin to head back to their lines. But just as they emerge above ground, they are spotted and attacked by Japanese troops. The squad is split into two groups, one heading back into the caves, while the other consisting of Private Foley and the group's medic attempt to break through with the map. The Japanese kill the soldiers at the tunnels, then head out into the jungle to find the two missing Americans. They discover the two in a foxhole, just as the Medic is applying iodine to Foley's back. The Japanese take the map, and kill both the soldiers.
Not long after, a second squad sent out to find the missing soldiers stumble across the bodies of Private Foley and the Medic. Upon closer examination, they discover that the Medic had drawn the map on Foley's back using the iodine. Even in death, they were able to get the much-needed information back to their lines!
Appearing in "Son of a Gunner"
- Sgt. Frank Kraus
- Soldat Hermann (Dies)
- Soldat Mueller (Dies)
- German infantry soldiers
- Private Coleman (Dies)
- American Paratrooper lieutenant
- American Paratrooper soldiers
- American Infantry soldiers
- brass compass
- American Douglas C-47 Skytrain transport plane
Synopsis for "Son of a Gunner"
On board a plane heading for their drop zone, a group of American paratroopers led by Sergeant Frank Kraus wait for their signal to jump. Frank tells his troops that they must be flying over the Loire River, then the Seine and the Moselle. One of them men asks him how he knows France so well, and the Sarge tells him that his father had fought in France back in 1918 during the Great War. He had never met his father, who had been killed a month before he was born, and he hopes that during his tour he is able to locate his father's grave somewhere in the area. The signal to jump is given, and the squad parachutes down to the ground. Their mission is to cut the enemy lines and relieve the pressure on their Infantry divisions. As soon as they touch ground they are spotted and attacked, with Private Coleman killed instantly. With the entire squad pinned down by enemy fire, they radio HQ for new orders - to relocate to an abandoned factory a half mile east and sit tight.
As the moon fades into the night, the squad use the cover of darkness to sneak to the bombed out factory. They secure the area and dig in, and Sgt. Kraus takes the assignment to scout the area and probe the enemy's position while it's still dark. The lieutenant orders him not to engage the enemy, just scout around. Moving slowly and cautiously through the trees, Kraus finally comes across the German scouts. They spot him, firing in his position, but Kraus is able to elude them in the dark and return back to the factory with their position.
The next morning when the rest of the squad wakes up, they find Kraus' bedroll unslept in. The lieutenant knows exactly where Kraus has went - in search of his father's grave. Meanwhile, Kraus has come across a farmhouse. He waits for the sun to go down before he approaches. Bursting through the door, he finds the house abandoned. Outside, it has begun to rain. Kraus notices out the back window a family graveyard and goes out to investigate. There, he finds a gravestone marked Un ami des etats unis qui a mort pour la France, retrouve Avril 1921 (An American Friend who dies for France, found April 1921). Believing it could be his dad, Kraus tries to have a closer look but hears German voices coming from around the farm. He quickly hides back inside the house and waits as the Germans enter. He is able to subdue the two men, but not before he overhears them talking about their army's right flank moving into the area. Kraus decides to return to his squad to tell them the info, but before he leaves he finds a rusty brass compass that had be lost behind a pile of flour bags. Kraus uses it to lead him back to the squad through the heavy rain.
Back at the abandoned factory, he tells his lieutenant about what he overheard and shows him the compass. The lieutenant takes the compass, noticing that the back of it has something inscribed, nearly hidden by the corrosion. Kraus uses his knife to rub away the rust, only to find his father's name, Sgt. Walter Kraus, inscribed on it. His father must have hid out that that farmhouse during the First World War, and now he had brought his son home!
Appearing in "Timetable For Terrorists"
- Middle Eastern mercenaries
- Iranian "Sons of Flame" terrorists
- Unnamed contact (Dies)
- Oil tanker ship
- Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber
- Willys MB U.S. Army Jeep
- Oil tanker trucks
Synopsis for "Timetable For Terrorists"
Various acts of terrorism are being carried out in the Middle East. In Lebanon, a TNT-laden truck is driven into a compound of sleeping American Marines. At Bandar Khomeini in the Persian Gulf, a speedboat filled with explosives is run into the side of a huge oil tanker. Now, in the shadowy depths of a basement in Washington D.C., the Mercenaries have been summoned by a mysterious man with an important mission. After exchanging secret passwords, the Mercenaries are told that the acts have been credited to a splinter group od Iranian terrorists calling themselves the "Sons of Flame" enraged from the recent release of the American hostages at Teheran. The United States can't "officially" invade a foreign country to stop the terrorists, but are hoping a covert operation can get results. The Mercenaries accept the job for the sum of $300,000. They are given ten days to complete the mission, but before the secret contact can give them the location of the terrorist's next target he is shot down and killed by operatives in league with the terrorists.
The Mercenaries hire a B-17 bomber plane to fly them to the Zagros mountain range in Iran and parachute out under the cover of night. After spending two days trekking across the desert, they head for a rendezvous with a transport that Gordon had arranged to meet with them. However, upon arrival they find the transport destroyed and the driver's throat slit. Gordon examines the wreckage to discover the sand still wet below from the leaking gas, and realizes that the ambush must have been very recent. Expecting an attack, the Mercenaries are ready and surprise the small group of terrorists sent to kill them. One on of the bodies they find a gold fire charm around his neck, the symbol of the "Sons of Flame".
On the seventh day of their mission, the Mercenaries come across a large group of terrorists who have just shot down and destroyed an American helicopter sent on a rescue mission. The terrorists brutally murder the occupants in cold blood. Their leader shouts out to his men that today is the day they attack Abadan - their main target. With that information, the Mercenaries rush in and surprise the terrorists. With grenades and machine guns, the Mercenaries wipe out the terrorists and avenge the helicopter crew. Taking the terrorists jeep, the Mercenaries head across the desert towards Abadan. They get to Abadan just as the terrorists have made their move, capturing the main oil refinery and setting up to destroy the entire complex. The terrorists have set up on top of the No. 1 oil storage tank and have begun to rain bullets down into the refinery workers below. The Mercenaries drive right through the blockade at the main gate, and Gordon tells the others to take off their shirts and give them to him. He ties them together to make a long rope and sticks in into the gas tanks hooked to the back of their jeep. Lighting the shirts on fire, Gordon steers the jeep full speed towards the No. 1 tank. They jump off just before the jeep rams into the tank, causing a huge explosion that ignites the oil within the tank and destroying the terrorists and their weapons. With the terrorists dead and the "Sons of Flame" no more, the Mercenaries, riding within an oil tanker truck, decide to take a vacation back in Switzerland and the land of snow.
- The second story "The Last Charge" is told from the viewpoint of a bugle.
- No trivia.
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- Cover gallery for the G.I. Combat series
- Images from G.I. Combat Vol 1 271
- World War II Recommended Reading
- Adventures in the Rifle Brigade (Volume 1)
- Adventures in the Rifle Brigade (Volume 2)
- All-American Men of War (Volume 1)
- All-Out War (Volume 1)
- Blackhawk (Volume 1)
- Blitzkrieg (Volume 1)
- Capt. Storm (Volume 1)
- Four-Star Battle Tales (Volume 1)
- G.I. Combat (Volume 1)
- Men of War (Volume 1)
- Military Comics (Volume 1)
- Our Army at War (Volume 1)
- Our Fighting Forces (Volume 1)
- Sgt. Rock (Volume 1)
- Sgt. Rock (Volume 2)
- Star-Spangled War Stories (Volume 1)
- Unknown Soldier (Volume 1)
- Weird War Tales (Volume 1)
Links and References
- G.I. Combat series index at the Grand Comics Database
- Haunted Tank article at Wikipedia
- Haunted Tank article at Don Markstein's Toonopedia
- Haunted Tank article at the Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe