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"Haunted Tank: "The Tank and the Turtle"": On the road towards their next mission, the Haunted Tank and her crew find a small turtle slowly walking down the path leading towards Sector Y-7. The turtle doesn't hide, letting the tank pass by as it continues on. The guys laugh at the turtle, believ


Quote1 Look at him look at us-- as if he knows we're friends! I can practically "hear" him say, "Thanks, pals! Maybe someday I'll do the same for you! After all, we're in the same branch of service-- armor!" Quote2
Lt. Jeb Stuart

G.I. Combat #91 is an issue of the series G.I. Combat (Volume 1) with a cover date of January, 1962.

Appearing in Haunted Tank: "The Tank and the Turtle"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

Other Characters:

Locations:

Items:

  • Turtle
  • Hawk
  • Smoke grenades
  • German 88 mm anti-aircraft gun

Vehicles:

  • The Haunted Tank
  • German Panzerkampfwagen IV tank
  • German Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter aircraft

Synopsis for Haunted Tank: "The Tank and the Turtle"

On the road towards their next mission, the Haunted Tank and her crew find a small turtle slowly walking down the path leading towards Sector Y-7. The turtle doesn't hide, letting the tank pass by as it continues on. The guys laugh at the turtle, believing that it has mistaken their tank as a distant relative. As they pass, Jeb realizes that someone else is laughing with them, the ghostly spirit of his ancestor General J.E.B. Stuart that only he can see and hear. The General appears to remind Jeb that their tank treads make a trail that the enemy could use to lead right to them. Jeb orders Rick to steer the tank off the road and into the trees, then again back out onto the road to lead any followers off their trail. A short while up, in the trees, Jeb orders the tank to stop. The guys get out and begin to use leaves and branches to cover and erase their tread marks and hide their position. Satisfied that their path is now safe, Jeb allows his men to rest and eat, their first break in nearly 48 hours.

During their meal, Arch hears the faint sound of a German plane heading their way. Jeb orders the men to get back into the tank, still hidden under the cover of the trees, and wait for it to appear. The German plane appears to be following the tank treads they had left behind, and starts to follow the fake ones leading down the opposite side of the road. When the plane comes into sight, Slim open fires onto the plane from their hiding spot. The pilot is surprised and, unable to get out of the way of the fire in time, is hit dead center and crashes in flames. The Haunted Tank then moves up along the road away from the wreck, just in case anyone else would come along to investigate. When they are a safe distance away, they stop once again under the trees and continue their chow break. To their surprise, a short time after they spot the same turtle from before walking past them on the road, having caught up with them. Then, the turtle is grabbed from the road by a hawk. The men quickly get up to defend their little armored "friend", and begin to fire warning shots into the air near the swooping hawk. Finally, the hawk lets go and the turtle falls to the ground with a thunk. Jeb picks him up then, seeing that the turtle is okay, sets him back down so that he can continue on his way. Then, Jeb gets orders to continue to Sector Y-7 pronto, and they climb back into the Haunted Tank and continue on.

Just outside a town marked as Coordinates X-2, the Haunted Tank finally meets up with the battered and weary infantry. The man leading the battalion tells Jeb that his men have tried six times to enter the town, but each time they have been forced back by German artillery. Jeb tells the soldiers to take a breather while they go in and check it out. The Haunted Tank continues down the road, which comes out of the woods to an open field leading into the town. The German artillery open fire as soon as the Haunted Tank appears on the field. Jeb orders Rick to keep heading left, and is able to determine from the barrage that they're dealing with three Panzer tanks hidden in the town. They continue forward, but the German begin to wise up to Jeb's strategy and start "walking" their shells towards their position. When three of the enemy's shells explode in front of the Haunted Tank, Jeb uses the barrages cover to fake his own death, slumping over the turret so that the Germans will think they made a direct hit when they see them through their binoculars. Rick continues to circle, moving gradually closer to the edge of town, then when he has the chance guns it and heads directing into town before the Germans can get them in their sights. Now within the cover of the buildings, Jeb looks inside the tank to find that the blast had knocked Rick and the others out. As his crew begin to come to, Jeb hears the faint laughter of the General who helped to lead their tank past the artillery. The ghost had gotten them this far, and now it was up to Jeb and his men to finish the fight.

Jeb decides to play a game of cat and mouse with the enemy tanks, hoping to draw them out into the open. Jeb orders Rick to steer the tank down the town streets hoping the enemy will spot them and reveal their positions. As they pass one intersection, they barely avoid getting hit by a shell from a Panzer that has been hoisted up into one of the blown-out buildings. The Haunted Tank stops for cover on the other corner, and Jeb and Arch can see the Panzer above through the store windows they are in front of. Arch brings the turret around to fire through, but they are spotted by the Panzer who fires first. Jeb orders Rick to take their tank back through the intersection. The Panzer is taken by surprise, and Arch fires and destroys the Panzer on the building. They start to hunt for the other two tanks, but one finds them first, coming up from behind. Arch tries to turn the turret around, hitting the side of the building. The Germans inside the Panzer laugh, causing them to miss when they fire. The Haunted Tank doesn't miss, destroying the second Panzer. They continue to search for the last enemy tank. The final Panzer surprises them form a side street, sending a direct hit right into the side of the Haunted Tank and knocking Jeb down inside. With the Haunted Tank smoking and their gun jammed from the direct hit, it looks as though the Panzer had finished them off. The enemy's hesitation gives Arch enough time to unjam the gun and fire a blast that destroys the final Panzer in town.

The Haunted Tank gives the signal and the infantry enters the town without problem. The soldiers thank the tank crew for helping them out. They leave the town, thinking that their work is finished, however General Stuart's ghost appears to tell Jeb that it's not over yet. Then Jeb spots the turtle on the road in front of them. The turtle retreats into its shell when suddenly it is fires on by a machine gun hidden in the woods. The Haunted Tank turns hard left and into the trees. Jeb realizes that the turtle warned them that the enemy is hidden nearby before they drove right into their sights. Jeb orders Rick to swing the tank around to get into position, but the tank begins to slide down the dirt hill towards the deep ravine nearby. Rick tries to break with no luck in stopping them. Just before they slide over the edge, the Haunted Tank is caught in a tree that stops them on the edge... and in full sight of the Panzer hiding in the woods! Arch fires, hitting the Panzer and sending it hurling down into the ravine below. When the Haunted Tank returns to the road, they find their friend the turtle alive and well. Jeb picks up the turtle, helping out a friend that helped them with a little ride.

Appearing in "Wings for a Wash-Out!"

Featured Characters:

  • Airman Curtis

Antagonists:

Other Characters:

  • American Army flight instructor
  • American pilots

Locations:

Items:

  • Machine gun

Vehicles:

  • American Republic P-47 Thunderbolt attack plane "Charlie"
  • Japanese Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" long-range fighter aircraft
  • American Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber

Synopsis for "Wings for a Wash-Out!"

Airman Curtis is a washout. He was close to earning his wings back in flight school in Texas, but his instructor didn't think he was good enough and failed him to save his life. Therefore, he was enlisted into the Army Air Corps as a ground mechanic and assigned to a forlorn airstrip in the Pacific theater. While there, Curtis became attached to a hunk of junk plane he'd named "Charlie". He felt kinship with the abandoned plane, both of them wash-outs and thrown to the side to languish forgotten. Curtis took it upon himself to try and fix Charlie up.

Every day right at the three o'clock hour, the little airstrip was attacked by a squad of relentless Japanese Zeros. The attack happened every day, at precisely the same time, and always while the squadron was away on maneuvers. Today the attack came just as expected, and Curtis would jump into his gun pit next to Charlie and fire back with his machine gun until the Zeros were finished and disappeared into the sun. The squadron would return only moments after the enemy would leave. Later that day, after Curtis finished servicing his pilot's plane, he returned to work on Charlie. The other pilots made fun of him for putting so much effort into such a rough junk heap. They believed that Charlie was a lame duck, no good to anyone. But Curtis had hope he could get her air worthy, and would stick to his work. He would everyday patch her holes and fix her wings, determined to get her into combat readiness, no matter what happened. He stayed by her during the day, and would sleep by her at night. They were two of a kind... Curtis and Charlie.

One day, the Japanese attack came just as it always did, at three o'clock right on schedule. The Zeros swooped out of the clouds and attacked the airstrip. Curtis did what he always did, run for his gun pit. But today he didn't make it. The Zeros flew down, attacking his position, and knocking him off of his feet to dive for the ground. He laid there and watched as bullet after bullet rained down onto Charlie, like he was a shooting gallery duck. Then, it stopped and the Zeros left, just before his own squadron returned. Curtis vowed to fix Charlie up just as soon as he finished his work. Curtis worked on her day and night until he had every bullet hole patched and every part greased and ready to go.

The next day, the airstrip gets a surprise when a badly damaged B-17 makes an emergency landing at their field. It was only hours before the Zeros would appear at three o'clock, and the ground mechanics work hard to get her back into shape but there is no way they can get her done before the deadline. The B-17 is a sitting target without any fighters to protect it, and Curtis knows what he has to do! He jumps into Charlie and, with a prayer, takes off into the sky. No sooner does he get airborne and the Zeros are all around him. The appearance of the beat-up old plane distracts the enemy for a short while, but soon half of them break off their attack and head for the B-17. With apologies to Charlie, Curtis flies between them and takes the shots meant for the fortress. Now all attention is on Charlie, and with a little bit of sloppy flying Curtis is able to force two of the Zeroes into one another. Swinging around, he fires and shoots down a third, but the remaining two get a clean shot at him and force Charlie down to the ground. By some miracle Charlie sands safely, and just as Curtis leaps out he watches as the American squadron returned and joins the fight. With ease they take out the remaining Zeros in the air. Curtis and Charlie had managed to distract and delay the enemy for just enough time for the cavalry to show up! With the enemy defeated, the squadron make one final fly-by to Charlie, giving him a heroes salute.

Appearing in "Secret War of a Snowbird!"

Featured Characters:

  • Ed Bates

Antagonists:

  • Krieg Mann (Dies)

Other Characters:

  • American Army doctor (Flashback only)
  • Alpine Police officers
  • Former Resistance fighters

Locations:

Items:

  • Snow skis
  • Land mines
  • German grenade
  • German luger

Vehicles:

  • Train

Synopsis for "Secret War of a Snowbird!"

Ed Bates has returned to the snowy tips of the Alps, determined to find the memories he had lost during the war. Every night since the nightmare would rush back to him, high atop the mountains... the enemy around him... a desperate attempt to save his buddies... but then nothing. Everything went dizzy and then he could only next remember the final day he spent at the military hospital. He had been found at the bottom of the mountain, unconscious with amnesia. Ed wanders what exactly happened up there on the mountain. Did he do his job as a scout? Was he a hero... or a coward who let his buddies down to die?

Now he has returned, hoping to find the answers high up on the mountain. At the hotel he notices that he is being watched. The mysterious man named Hans approaches him, and offers his services as a guide and expert climber. Bates accepts, and the next morning they begin their climb. Every inch up the mountains Ed tries looking for the answers he wants, but nothing is coming back to him. He reaches the top, and the exact spot from where his last memory originated, and looks down the five mile stretch where he was found at the bottom. Hans goes first, skiing down the side of the mountain. Ed soon follows the same path. He tries to remember, but nothing. Then, a shot rings out, grazing Ed across the head and causing him to lose his balance. He falls, and his last image is of Hans the guide leering over him.

Ed's mind falls back in time, but the face in front of him remains the same. He can see Hans standing over him laughing, but this time he wears the camouflaged white cap of a Nazi ski trooper! Ed reacts just in time as the German trooper is aiming his rifle right to his head. He swings his ski pole up and hits the man. Then, getting back up onto his skis, he schusses as fast as he can down the mountain away from the enemy. The Nazi follows, firing relentlessly at the escaping man. Ed knows that if he goes down, then all his buddies will fall into the trap the Nazis have laid on the mountain. Ed looks down to see his pursuer skiing into the pines and away from him. Confused, Ed wonders why the man would take the long way down. Then, the ground begins to explode around him. Mines! Ed figures that his only chance is speed, and goes full force ahead keeping his snow slats just ahead of the detonations as he flies over them. He doesn't make it, and one explosion clips him and sends him tumbling down the side of the mountain out of control. Finally, he grabs hold of a rock ledge and sinks his nails into the rock to stop his descent. Hanging on for dear life, he watches as a grenade is thrown towards his position. Fortunately for him, grenade blasts in high altitude tend to sometimes work in reverse, and the blast flips him around and back up onto the ledge. The Nazi is taken by surprise as Ed cannonballs into him. The two scuffle, fighting hand to hand in the cold and damp snow. It the fight, Ed's head is yanked back and slams into the rock. As he begins to black out, his last sight is of a figure falling over and sprawling over the edge of the cliff. A figure wearing a swastikas.

Ed succumbs to the blackness, and his mind begins to spring forward in time back to the present day. He comes to, and remembers the gun shot and the wound on his head that made him go down. Lying near him in the snow is a German Luger. Still somewhat groggy, Ed peers over the ledge. Down below lies the body of Hans the guide, just like the Nazi those years ago. Ed has now regained his memory, and can remember the events from the war. He is still somewhat confused as to why the guide attacked him, but the answer comes from the Alpine police who are now arriving on the scene. The guide's real name was Krieg Mann, a Nazi war criminal that the authorities have been long seeking. One of the police officers recognizes Ed, and tells him that when the officer was with the Resistance they had found Ed lying half-alive at the bottom of the mountain. He had been mumbling of a Nazi trap in his delirium, and the Resistance had warned his comrades of the trap. With his past returned and questions answered, Ed Bates skis back down content that the mountain had waited patiently to reveal all its secrets to him.

Notes

  • "The Tank and the Turtle" is reprinted in Our Army at War #164.
  • Page 14 contains the one-page combat profile "Marine Air Squadrons", highlighting the unusual and colorful names given to some of the Marine Aviation Corps during World War II. Originally presented in Our Army at War #180.
  • Page 16 contains the full-page "People are People!" public Service announcement, explaining the origin and diversity of the human race, and that we must all work together for peace and the advancement of mankind. Written by Jack Schiff with art by Don Cameron.
  • Page 23 has a half-page "Private Pete" comic strip. Pete asks the mess officer what's for dinner. The officer tells him they have millions of things to eat today... all beans! Written and drawn by Henry Boltinoff, and original presented in Our Army at War #47.

Trivia

  • In the Haunted Tank story "The Tank and the Turtle", the names and positions of Lt. Jeb Stuart's crew are still in creative flux. Rick, normally the tank's gunner, is shown as the driver, while Slim and Arch are referred to by Jeb with their nicknames "Tex" and "Hank".
  • "Sgt. Rock's Combat Corner" has the Rock answering questions from readers such as "Were there special tanks designed to blow up mines?" (yes, two types), "Which service currently possesses the most fighting men?" (the U.S. Army at 900,000), and "What's the most important weapon in the U.S. Army?" (Rock says it's the machine gun).



See Also

Recommended Reading

Links and References

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