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Aaron's Blog


©2014, Aaron Elson



Francis "Snuffy" Fuller

Page 2

(c) 2014, Aaron Elson

    Aaron Elson: Did you have to write letters when men got killed?

    Snuffy Fuller: Yes.

    Aaron Elson: Who was the first one you can remember having to do that for?

    Snuffy Fuller: Jack Mantell.

    Aaron Elson: That was at Pfaffenheck [March 16, 1945]. Did you lose anyone before that?

    Snuffy Fuller: Mantell, and Billy Wolfe and Sergeant Hayward, and Harris, those are the only ones I had to write. I had a couple of them shot, or injured, but they werenít killed. That was my only bad day out of the whole war. I often wondered how we could have prevented it, but how did we know? At that time, those were the approved tactics, to send one group around, to envelop. That was what they taught. And we couldnít move out in the street because the gun was right there. Sergeant Rudd, he died, didnít he? He was right there, he could see the gun, but he couldnít get a shot at it. And the infantry would not move. They were back maybe down at the end of this next street from us, but they wouldnít move up.

    Aaron Elson: Why do you think that was?

    Snuffy Fuller: Scared, I guess. They had rough going in the beginning.

    Aaron Elson: What was Clingerman like? Was he in your tank?

    Snuffy Fuller: Johnny Clingerman? He wasnít in my tank. He was in another tank, and [after his tank was hit] he got on the back of my tank, and we were trying to maneuver around, trying to get a shot at that gun, and he got the shot at me, this shell went right through the gun mount, and thatís when it killed Mantell, and Clingerman got shrapnel in his eye, he lost his eye. But he was on the back of the tank, we were trying to evacuate him. Thatís how Johnny got hurt.

    You know, there are so many stories about this Pfaffenheck. Iíve read every one, and everybodyís got a different version. Sergeant [Russell] Loop, did you get ahold of him?

    Aaron Elson: Loop said he got the Bronze Star for going into an attic and shooting at the Germans in the woods who were on the gun crew after the tank was hit. Letís go back to the day before Pfaffenheck. There was a town, Udenhausen. Do you remember that?

    Snuffy Fuller: There was a very small town the day before. It was just a short distance up the road to Pfaffenheck. Iím trying to think whether Mantell got hurt at Udenhausen or not, I think he did.

    Aaron Elson: Loop said Mantell got hurt by a piece of a shingle that fell on him, and put a gash in his head, and that he refused to go back for help.

    Snuffy Fuller: Yeah. He wouldnít go back. He got hurt just before we moved out for this Pfaffenheck deal. Just before Pfaffenheck we met the infantry, they were in an orchard, and we decided to go down the road, and this bird jumped out with this panzerfaust, the one that missed my tank that I told you about. Somebody creamed him in a hurry.

    For some reason or other the infantry didnít want to move up. But we started down the road, and thatís when this guy took a shot at me. So then we decided weíre gonna get behind the houses, which we did. Rudd was behind one house, I was behind a few others.

    We knew that gun was there, but we didnít know how to get it, so thatís when I sent the other tanks, the houses were here and weíre behind here, I sent them around this way to see if they could get a shot at it. Well, it happened the Germans got their shot in first.

   Aaron Elson: Who was in your crew at the time?

    Snuffy Fuller: Loop was the bow gunner. Carl Grey was the driver, I called him Liíl Abner. He was a big, tall guy, looked like Little Abner in the comics, a big husky country boy. And he was a good driver, too, but I donít know when, he lost his nerve one time, we got into a nick or something and he didnít want to drive anymore, so they put him back in the company for a while, and then they brought him back out again. But that day he was my driver, and he did a hell of a job getting us out of that mess after theyíd shot us. And Mantell was the assistant gunner. Iím trying to think who the gunner was. Loop was the assistant driver, Carl was the driver, Mantell was the loader, who was the gunner? I just canít remember.

    There were only two tanks shot, as far as I recall. Lloyd Heyward, thatís the guy that had his legs shot off, bled to death. Those things happen.

    Aaron Elson: Loop said that you and he went to get Sergeant Heyward.

    Snuffy Fuller: Yes. Sergeant Loop and I went out there and tried to get them [Sergeants Heyward and Russell Harris], but they were too far gone. We shot them full of morphine, thatís all we could do. We couldnít get the medics. In fact, I went and got a medicís brassard and put it on, hoping that they wouldnít shoot at me. They still shot at us.

    Aaron Elson: Loop said that Heyward was shot again while the two of you were carrying him.

    Snuffy Fuller: Yeah, with a shell meant for us. So there was nothing we could do. We took off.

    Aaron Elson: How well had you known Heyward?

    Snuffy Fuller: Hardly at all. We never got real friendly. See, itís funny, youíre with this one group like your own tank crew more than anything else. Of course you know the rest of them, youíre with them all the time, but they have their own little cliques and each tank more or less sticks with their group. They bunk together in houses, they stay together. You more or less have to, if something happens in a hurry youíve got to get them all into the tank at one time.

    Aaron Elson: What can you tell me about Mantell?

    Snuffy Fuller: Very young, quiet, good looking lad, married, he had a wife in Milwaukee, somewhere, and thatís all I know of him. He wasnít with us long enough to really get acquainted, same as Billy Wolfe, heíd only been with us a very, very short time.

    Aaron Elson: Did the two of them come up together as replacements?

    Snuffy Fuller: I think they might have, because thatís the way that things operated, theyíd send a group. Why we had replacements I donít know. Of course, this was getting toward the time when they were sending guys home with points. That might have been the reason for replacements, because we had no big casualties [in the platoon] up until then.

    Iím trying to think, one other guy, somehow or other we were going through a woods one day and evidently he got too far out of the hatch or turret, and the gun hit a tree and swung around and pinned him out on the chest, heís been trying for years to get disability on that, I donít know if he got it or not. He was quite old, too, he was one of the older guys.

    One thing that wasnít so amusing at the time, we were on top of a hill and the little town down below was where we were supposed to go for the night. A little excursion, and I was kind of worried because on either side was high hills, I was afraid they might have guns to shoot at us, so we were just moseying along and all of a sudden, Wham! My tanks gets it.

    I said, "Rudd, get that sonofabitch on the hill."

    He radioed back and said, "That wasnít a gun, Lieutenant, you ran over a mine." So we piled out of the tank, and sure enough our track was gone. I walked back to Sergeant Ruddís tank, the boys are there, I looked around and said, "Where the hell is Blackbird?"

    He said, "Oh, hell, Lieutenant, he got out of the tank ahead of you"

    How that guy got through that turret without me I donít know, he was the loader that time. He was an Indian boy, we called him Blackbird. But he beat me out of that tank.

    Then we could see the mines in the road down below us. There were so few of them we got around them, and got to town all right.

    Some towns you had to shoot up, and some you didnít. Some you could walk right in. There was one place, Dippach, we came to this little, it looked like a stream, itís called the Oure River. The bridge was out, and right where the bridge was there was a little German tank in the bed of the creek, well, itís called a river. And weíre wondering how weíre gonna get across, and the brass all come up there and theyíre standing around.

    Finally, I said, "Letís take a chance." So we unloaded all the guys off the tank, the infantry and my crew, and just myself and my driver, we tried to ford this little river. And we made it all right, got on the other side, then got the other tanks across. And we got over there, and were in this wide, big field before this town. So we go in line formation, spread out. And got in this town and we had no problem at all, it might have been a few shots. But in the book [the 712th unit history], it said it was a classic formation, they took the town, a lot of bullshit. Some of it's bullshit and some of itís true. I donít remember shooting the town at all, it was a big town, but we had no problem.

    I do remember ordering the tanks in line formation as we got across this little river. And then further on in the book it says A Company couldnít get across the same river, so they went and came across where we did.

   Aaron Elson: Were you with the battalion when it came to the Flossenburg concentration camp?

    Snuffy Fuller: No. But we did take one little camp, and I canít remember the name of the town, but there was a bunch of these prisoners that we liberated. They were Americans. It was in a small town.

    When we crossed the Moselle for the last time, we were supposed to take this town, and they had captured a bunch of Americans who were in this town, and we put a shot down the street. Right straight down the street from us there was a big barn. We put a shell in there, and I think we wounded some of our own guys that they had been holding in this barn, but there was no big action there.

    Actually, there wasnít any big action. All little things. Nothing like some of the stories you hear, really slugging it out. Each tank had their own little thing.

    Aaron Elson: What can you remember about finding the American prisoners?

    Snuffy Fuller: Nothing, really. I think we gave them some cigarettes, but the infantry was right there and they took charge of them. We didn't have time for prisoners.

    One time we came into view of this little town and looked ahead and saw this whole street lined up with, it was hard to tell from where we were but I thought they were trucks or something. We started shooting at them, and we moved up, and here theyíre all horse-drawn wagons filled with supplies, and all these characters come out surrendering, and theyíre all young guys, kids really, 17, 18 years old. We got an awful lot of loot that time. There was all kinds of loot in that wagon train. And one little German, I asked him, "Whereís your lieutenant?" He said. "Eveque," that he went somewhere. I asked him where he was but he wouldnít answer. We just had to leave them, the infantry takes care of all the prisoners, we didnít bother. I guess a couple times they took care of them good, too. Thereís a book, someday, if you ever get the chance to read, itís called "Company Commander," and I wish I could remember the authorís name. I think I read that book three times already. Itís an infantry story, but itís terrific."

    Aaron Elson: In your platoon, can you recall who the tank commanders were? Otha Martin was one.

    Snuffy Fuller: Sergeant Rudd was one. Heyward, who got killed.

    Aaron Elson: And Harris?

    Snuffy Fuller: Heís the one that got shot through the head, wasnít he?

    Aaron Elson: Martin said he was shot through the head with a 40-millimeter gun.

    Snuffy Fuller: Now that canít be right. A 40-millimeter shell would be about that big around, now come on. Thereíd be no head left.

    Aaron Elson: Rudd said in his letter that he was grazed, and died from the bleeding.

    Snuffy Fuller: That I would believe more than the other. It was probably a machine gun. I never, I got hit with shrapnel three or four times. Only once I got a bullet. Shrapnel, it would hit the tank and it would chip off a little bit, I got it in my shoulder, I got it in my arm. I was inside the tank, but youíre always halfway out of it. You had to be, those periscopes we had werenít worth shit, you had to get your head out.

    The only time I got hit with a bullet was right across the back of the hand. I had my hand on top of the ring, and we were coming over this hill, and a bunch of Germans were dug in in front of us. One of them fired a panzerfaust and hit my tank right in the front end, in the differential casing. It didnít do any damage, it punched a hole in it and we lost the oil, but it didnít disable the tank. So we stayed right where we were, and we were firing at these birds, they were dug in in small trenches. So this one German bastard, heíd pull up out of his trench and fire a burst, and duck down. And Iíd get a shot at him. Well, finally I won. In the meantime, I got stitched across the hand. And there would have been nothing to it, except Iíd been wearing a pair of leather gloves with the rabbit fur lining. And when that bullet hit, it drove the fur into the hand. Well, I didnít think anything of it until about three days later my hand got about that big, I had to go to the vets ó the vets, I had to go to the medics, and they cut it open and cleaned it out. Thatís the only bad injury I got all during the war. Shrapnel was nothing. I got once in my shoulder and once in my arm. Usually youíre just standing there and youíve got your hands on the turret.

    Aaron Elson: Loop told me that once you got lost at night and two German tanks fell in on your column?

    Snuffy Fuller: That had to be, Iím not sure if thatís the same night that Griffin lost a tank or not. I remember one night, this is Griffin again, we were stalled somewhere for some reason or other, and someone said there were some German tanks up ahead, and we went out on foot. And sure enough we came across this German tank, we could hear the bastards inside talking. So we went back and tried to get a bazooka, nobody had a bazooka. So we did nothing. Finally the Germans went away.

    Aaron Elson: Was it one of the big German tanks?

    Snuffy Fuller: No, it was a medium or small tank. But we stood right there, we heard the bastards talking inside, we had no grenades, nothing to do anything with. A .45 caliber on your hip, what the hell are you gonna do with it? I never fired that gun at all. No. My favorite, though, was the .50-caliber up on top.

    Aaron Elson: What can you remember about capturing the two German tanks?

    Snuffy Fuller: They were behind us, they must have thought we were Germans, I guess.

    Aaron Elson: What went through your mind?

    Snuffy Fuller: I donít know if anything did. At that time, we hated Germans. I canít remember too much about that incident. I canít remember. Itís one of those things. If I could remember everything that happened Iíd write a book. You waited too long. Twenty years earlier, or thirty years earlier, people could tell you a lot of stuff that happened.

    Aaron Elson: What can you remember about Billy Wolfe?

    Snuffy Fuller: Hardly anything because he was so quiet, just a little farmboy, had nothing to say. He wasnít there long enough to really get acquainted with anybody. How long did he last, about a month?

    He was in Sergeant Haywardís tank. I went in the next morning, to try to find any dogtags or something, and there was absolutely nothing in that tank.

    Aaron Elson: This is going to be a difficult question. You donít have to answer it, but if itís not too painful, Iíd appreciate for you to try and remember what you can. What was it like going into that tank?

    Snuffy Fuller: Actually, I guess I was too hard-hearted. I didnít have any feelings at all. I just was looking to see if I could find the dogtags to prove that he had died, and all there were were just little bits of bones, maybe an inch and a half, two inches. Because when that gasoline went off, and those shells, thereís nothing much you can do.

    Aaron Elson: Was there a smell inside the tank?

    Snuffy Fuller: No. None at all. Not like, I know what youíre thinking, like some of them after theyíve been dead for a while there was a sweet smell they called it, no, there was no odor whatsoever. The fire must have consumed everything completely.

    Aaron Elson: What did it look like inside? Was that the first time that you had gone into a tank like that?

    Snuffy Fuller: That was the only time. It was just gutted, all the wiring was completely burnt, there was absolutely nothing left. After Mantell got killed in my tank, Captain Sheppard came up and drove that tank back with Mantellís body in it, so I never saw that tank again either.

    Aaron Elson: You were pretty shaken up by that, werenít you?

    Snuffy Fuller: Oh yeah, I think I was. He brought me a quart of whiskey. I drank that and went to sleep I guess. That was the first bad time weíd had. After the Bulge and everything, it was a trauma I guess youíd call it. But I got over that, went out and started out the next morning. I had no tank so we borrowed a tank from A Company, and as usual I was in the lead tank, and whoever this guy from A Company was said, "Lieutenant, we canít be the lead tank."

    I said, "Why not?"

    He said, "We ainít got no radio in this tank."

    I said, oh, the hell with it. Nothing happened. We just got up to the Rhine River and stopped. Then we went from there down to Boppard, where we made the crossing. We stayed there a few days. Somebody went AWOL, I forget who it was. I donít know if they ever found him. They might have, but I never heard anything about it. I guess he shacked up with a German girl.

    We had a lot of good times, and some bad ones.

    Aaron Elson: What would you carry on the tanks?

    Snuffy Fuller: Weíd carry two or three cases of rations. The back end usually had your sleeping bags, bedrolls. One time we captured a town and we had ten cases of champagne on there.

    Aaron Elson: What was it like in Paris when you got there?

    Snuffy Fuller: Well, the night life was going full swing. Of course there were blackouts. And the girls roamed the streets. But there were no outdoor cafes like you think of Paris. I got around, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower. I spent some time on Rue de Pigalle, the Moulin Rouge. I saw the highlights of Paris. Of all the towns overseas I think the only one I really liked is Bristol, England. I had the most fun in Bristol, for some reason or other.

    Aaron Elson: Did you have a girlfriend there?

    Snuffy Fuller: No, I hooked up with a couple of families, and we'd go to these pubs at night, and Iíd play the piano and weíd sing, and naturally weíd go to their house and have a little snack or something.

    Aaron Elson: Where did you learn to play the accordion and the piano?

    Snuffy Fuller: I picked up the piano, and then I took some accordion lessons.

    Aaron Elson: When Sheppard brought you that bottle of whiskey, did the two of you drink the whole bottle?

    Snuffy Fuller: No, Iím sure I shared it with the boys. The boys usually found a lot of their own liquor, these houses usually had wine.

    Iím trying to think of that stuff they had in France [Calvados], that apple whiskey, that was murderous stuff. You could put that in your cigarette lighter and use it for gasoline.

    Now, what else can I try to tell you? About the Bulge, the only thing I can remember is how cold and miserable it was. The tanks would get stuck in the mud and throw a track, and cold nights. Half the time we had no place to sleep, we were in these damn woods. We had a few skirmishes, though.

    Aaron Elson: What kind of gun was your tank hit with in Pfaffenheck?

    Snuffy Fuller: It was an 88 field piece.

    Aaron Elson: Loop recalled it as a 75, a flat trajectory.

    Snuffy Fuller: It was a flat trajectory all right, but that was an 88, to come through there it had to be.

    After we pulled back behind the houses. Sergeant Rudd stayed behind the house he was at, but my tank, we had to pull back into town more to get cover. And we finally got an artillery observer up there, and told him where the gun was, right across from, oh Iíd say this is Ruddís tank here where weíre sitting, that gun was only about the second car in the parking lot, not much further than that [about 50 feet]. And he said he couldnít put the artillery in there, it was too close, it might get us. But we called for fire, he put it in first, and kept bringing it down, a hundred yards at a time, and finally I guess he just about had it on top of us, because he and I were standing in this doorway, and it was damn close, but evidently it got the gun, or scared the men away from the gun. And after that, then I guess the infantry came up, because there werenít that many Germans in the houses. By that time theyíd started to move out. But that one god damn gun is what give us all that trouble.

    Aaron Elson: Rudd said that your tank got one of the guns, is that possible?

    Snuffy Fuller: No, not that day. I think it was the artillery that got it. I honestly do. Rudd couldnít shoot. He couldnít take a chance to pull his gun out to get at it. And you couldnít get it from down the road, there was no cover. We were only two or three houses into the town, and these birds are in the woods across the road. Itís funny, you could see the gun. I couldnít see the men at the gun. All you could see was the barrel of the gun sticking out of the woods there.

    Aaron Elson: Your tank had already been hit?

    Snuffy Fuller: Right straight through the gun shield, and thatís that thick [four inches], plus the tank body itself [an inch and a half]. And thatís when it got the machine gun box, this metal box with the ammunition for that .30-caliber coax mount, itís attached to the big gun, when the big guns swings, the machine gun moves, and Mantell was setting right behind it. That shell came through the gun mount, through the tank, hit that machine gun box, and drove those shells, he looked like a chicken. All these .30-caliber shells were just stuck right into his chest. I didnít know anything happened to him, but looking around afterward I said, "Whereís Mantell?" and Loop says, "Donít you know, Lieutenant?"

    I said, "Know what?"

    He says, "Look in your tank."

    I walked up and looked, and here he is. It drove those shells ó they didnít explode, it just drove them right into his chest. He was just peppered with these shells stuck into his chest.

    Aaron Elson: Did you feel like sick?

    Snuffy Fuller: It didnít bother me. None of it did. You got too hard-hearted after a while, it didnít bother you.

    Aaron Elson: Would that have killed him instantly?

    Snuffy Fuller: Oh yeah, right then and there. And Clingerman got hurt, he was on the back of the tank, he got shrapnel or something in his eye. We were trying to save him, and we got him shot, or got him hurt.

    Aaron Elson: Did Billy Wolfeís brother ever write back to you?

    Snuffy Fuller: Never did. He saved that letter till the day he died. Well, it was such a sad way, a hard way to go, and so really, I didnít think his folks ought to know how he died. But his mother and sisters I guess, they couldnít believe he was dead. Well, when you have nothing to show for it, I wonder what they did with his remains, did they put a grave in there? Well, there were no remains, but they do put a grave. Thereís places you could write to find out. I wonder if the girls ever tried to find out.

    Aaron Elson: What would you say was the most scared you were at any one point?

    Snuffy Fuller: Iím trying to think. Iíd have to say that little town of Berle where we got all this terrific high-speed shelling, they were really shelling the hell out of us. And I was in a little house on top of this hill, the only thing between me and that shell was a half or a three-quarter inch board. Why I didnít go out to the tank I donít know, it was probably too cold.

    Aaron Elson: Were those the screaming meemies?

    Snuffy Fuller: No, those were 88s. The meemies, we heard them a few times. But they were used mostly against infantry. They would have no effect on a tank. Those were called nebelwurfers. They used them in the Battle of the Bulge, and on the Siegfried Line, on the infantry. The Siegfried Line, we never had too much trouble, I saw the cement things, but we just went around them.

    The high-speed shelling was in Berle, that we got an awful bad shelling, all night long, and that was just before we went into Donkolz, and by the time we got to Donkolz we couldnít find any guns, I donít know where they were. They probably pulled them back. I think there were some guns where we caught that supply train, a couple of horse drawn guns, too. I told you about that, that was a massacre of the poor horses, some of them were tied up to the carts, what are you gonna do?

    Aaron Elson: Being a little older yourself, what did you think about seeing kids in a situation like that?

    Snuffy Fuller: At the time, they were Germans, and that was it. That was enough to turn you off. After the war, we saw a lot of them marching back into their towns or wherever they were coming from, then you sort of felt sorry for them, because they were ragged. But most of the Germans that we did see, or I saw, were middle aged or maybe a little older than the young ones.

    Aaron Elson: I wanted to ask you again about Sergeant Hayward. Before he was killed, had his legs been cut off?

    Snuffy Fuller: He was out of the tank when we got to him, and laying on the ground, and both his legs were off, halfway from the knee up to the groin.

    Aaron Elson: And he had gotten himself out of the tank?

    Snuffy Fuller: Somehow or other he got out of the tank. But there was just nothing we could do for him.

    Aaron Elson: Was he in shock or did he say anything?

    Snuffy Fuller: No.

    Aaron Elson: But he was clearly still alive?

    Snuffy Fuller: Well, blood was coming out. He might have been in shock, or probably he was on his way.

    Aaron Elson: Were you able to put a tourniquet on the legs?

    Snuffy Fuller: We tried to take a belt and put it around it. And we gave him some morphine, and thatís all we could do. We had to get the hell out of there because they were shooting at us. It was Sergeant Loop and I.

    Aaron Elson: So he was unable to or didnít say anything.

    Snuffy Fuller: No. In fact none of them said anything, except the little Chinaman, we sent him back to the medics with his hands. He was burned pretty bad. It might have been more than his hands. I wonder whatever happened to him. Griffin tried to look him up, and he couldnít find him.

    We called him Chop Chop, thatís the name we knew him by. Just a pleasant little guy, didnít bother nobody. He was an assistant driver. He was a little fellow.

    Aaron Elson: Did he ever talk about his family?

    Snuffy Fuller: He hardly ever talked to anybody.

    Aaron Elson: Did you ever have any personal contact with Patton?

    Snuffy Fuller: I only met him once, after the war. We had this critique in Garmisch Partenkirchen. I went with Bob Vutech. What a pretty little town that was.

    Patton mostly wanted our opinion, what we could have done or should have done. And of course some of our bitches were poor radio communications, that was one of our big problems. These radios you had, when you needed them they werenít there. And of course sometimes a shortage of ammunition, shortage of gas, a lot of those things couldn't be helped, I guess. But I know the other thing that I bitched about was, he asked each officer, mine was the lack of decent communications.

    Aaron Elson: And what was his response?

    Snuffy Fuller: "Weíll have to work on that." Thatís about all he said. He really didnít have too much to say. He just thanked everybody. We got a few days in this nice resort, good meals, good housing. Some of the guys went for boat rides on the lake. As a matter of fact I think I did. Every reunion I went to I wanted to see Sergeant Loop, but heís never been to any I went to. He always had too much to do on his farm.

    When we left, they told us we couldnít take anything home. And like a bunch of dopes, I think after we got in Marseilles on the way back, I got rid of all the guns I had, and cameras and everything, and Jesus Christ, nobody went through the baggage, I could have brought it all home. I wound up with one little gun, a couple of guns and one camera. And then I got home, and finally after a few years I took the guns and threw them in the river. I wish I hadnít now.

    Aaron Elson: Why did you get rid of them?

    Snuffy Fuller: My dad talked me into it. He didnít like the guns around. So, to keep him happy, at that time we lived in Lewiston, on the river. We took them out in a boat, and dumped them over. And the funny thing is, because he used to have a big gun collection when he was younger, shotguns, rifles, pistols, all that stuff. He didnít want us to have that when he got older.

    Aaron Elson: Had he been in World War I?

    Snuffy Fuller: No, he spent his time in the National Guard here. He was a cook in the National Guard. The farthest he got was Camp Drum, itís called Camp Drum now.

    Every time Iíd come home with my uniform on, heíd take me down to the shop and show me  off.

    Aaron Elson: What did he do when you were in the Army?

    Snuffy Fuller: He was a machinist. Worked for this carousel company, Alan Hirschel, you know, they made all the carousels.

    Aaron Elson: Did you have any aftereffects from the war, like bad dreams?

    Snuffy Fuller: Nothing serious, no. Once in a while, yes, you would think of something, but nothing traumatic that bothers you. So many, you know, just little things.

    Aaron Elson: Like what?

    Snuffy Fuller: Maybe a bunch of dead Germans or something will come to your mind. Some of these guys would go along and step on their belly, and let the gas out of them. Take what they could out of their pockets.

    Aaron Elson: So the images like that are hard to get out of your mind.

    Snuffy Fuller: Things like you would never forget, like through Normandy you would see all these cows in the field, laying on their back with their legs in the air, hit by artillery or something. Things that never go away, theyíre there somewhere. Youíd need a psychiatrist to dig them out, and Iím not ready for one of them guys.

    Aaron Elson: They would actually do that, like if a dead German was bloated somebody would...

    Snuffy Fuller: Step on him, squeeze the gas out. I told you, they hated the Germans.

    Aaron Elson: Did the tanks ever roll over bodies?

    Snuffy Fuller: Not to my knowledge. Itís possible, yes. Iíve heard a couple stories where tanks ran over our own people, they were behind a tank, the tank would back up. Not intentionally, accidents. I donít think anything happened in our outfit. I was in Camp Chaffee one time and a tank tried to cross a bridge, and got too far over to one side and the tank turned right upside down in the water, and trapped the crew in there, and they had this safety hatch on the bottom, an escape hatch. That was rusted through, they couldnít open the goddamn hatch, and the whole bunch of them perished in there, because the gasoline fumes asphyxiated them. The next morning they got the hatch open somehow and got the bodies out. I was an officer then. I donít know what I was doing down there, it wasnít one of my tanks. I went to see it, the tank was laying right flat upside down with the hatch down, where no one could get out into the water.

    Aaron Elson: When you came back, the girl you had been writing to broke up with you?

    Snuffy Fuller: Well, we dated a couple of times after that. I took her around places, but I'd gotten into a little drinking habit over there, for some reason or other. And she raised hell with me, and told me I had to quit drinking, and I said I wouldnít, and that was the end of that romance. Iíd been with her about four years, more or less, because I had the store on Fillmore and she had the store up here on the next corner, so we just got together, and were quite compatible.

    The funny part is, my father used to go with her mother, because he was a widower and she was a widow. This is after I broke up with her, he went with the mother then.

    Sheís still single, too. Yeah, she never got married. She had a boyfriend after me, but he didnít last long. She lives in Cheektowaga, a few miles down the line.

    Aaron Elson: Do you keep in touch?

    Snuffy Fuller: No, I used to see her sister a lot. I havenít seen her in a good many years now.

    I used to write to her, and all the souvenirs I got Iíd send to her kid brother, thatís why I havenít got any. Nazi flags and all that stuff.

    Aaron Elson: And who else did you write to, your mom and dad?

    Snuffy Fuller: Oh, sure, I would write to them all the time, when I would think about it. Well, my mother died when I got back from Hawaii, so it was just my father. And my sisters and brothers once in a while. Well, not my brothers, they were both in the service. I had two brothers and two sisters. My brother John was in the Army, and my brother Vern was a Seabee. They were both younger than me. They werenít wounded, but the younger brother, in the seabees, he got a pension from lack of hearing from the shelling in Guadalcanal. I was the only one that got any wounds at all, and I had nothing to speak of, not like some of these poor bastards who are running around with no legs and no arms.

    Aaron Elson: What did you end up with in terms of decorations?

    Snuffy Fuller: Just the Silver Star and the Purple Heart. Of course you've got all the ribbons, from the different theaters.

    Aaron Elson: What effect would you say the war had on you?

    Snuffy Fuller: I wish I was young enough Iíd go back in. I should have stayed in.

    Aaron Elson: What made you leave?

    Snuffy Fuller: Well, at that time I was just sick and tired of it. Had enough for a while. Then they told you when you got out how chickenshit everything was. I wanted out. If Iíd have stayed in Iíd have been retired twenty years ago already. Not too many of them stayed in that I know of. Some might have gone into the reserve. I guess Sheppard did, didnít he? Heís not too well either now, from the last I heard. How old is Shep now, heís got to be in his late seventies. Well, weíre all getting up there.

    Aaron Elson: And youíve smoked ever since the war?

    Snuffy Fuller: Practically all my life. Since I was 22 Iíve been smoking these damn things.

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