“Bravest Man in the American Army” – Joseph T. Angelo & The Bonus Army
Joseph DeAngelo of this city was this lauded by Colonel George Smith Patton commander of the 304th tank Brigade Brigade. Angela who has just returned from overseas with the 304th tank Brigade saved the life of Colonel Patton by dragging him into a shell hole after the colonel had been wounded, directed the operation of the tanks, and saved the whole Brigade from annihilation.
For these deeds of valor he has been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross the French War Medal in the French Croix de Guerre. kernel patch and whose home is insane Gabriel California said:
“When the Tanks Corpse went over the top September 26th at Clermony just west of the Voquixs Hills, I was shot down in Joe dragged me into a shell hole. He is without a doubt the bravest man in the American Army. I have never seen his equal.”
The Colonel then sent an orderly for Angelo with the remark.
But let him tell his own story. He deserves the credit for the action the tank corpse played in the war. Had it not been for the youngsters bravery there would have been a different story to tell in that sector.
[W]e went over the top at 6:30 in the morning. We had 150 tanks on the move and were plowing through a dense fog. As I was the Colonel’s orderly I accompanied him in the advance.
We had fifteen men and two first lieutenants in our party. The tanks followed us. I was walking by the side of the Colonel, but when we came to a crossroad the Colonel told me to remain there and be on the watch for Germans.
While I was on duty two American Doughboys came along. I asked them what what [sic–their] mission was they replied that they were ‘just mopping up.’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘if you don’t get out of here you will get mopped up, as the Germans are pouring plenty of lead our way.’ When several high explosive shells burst the Doughboys took refuge in a shack. A moment later a shell hit the shack. The Doughboys were blown to atoms. A moment later I saw two German machine gunners from behind a bush and they fired on me. I returned the fire and killed one; the other one beat it.
The Colonel, who was ahead of me, appeared on top of a knoll and shouted: ‘Joe, is that you shooting down there?’ Then I thought sure hell had broken loose. Bullets from machine guns just naturally rained all around.
‘Come on, we’ll clean out these nests,’ shouted the Colonel, and I followed him up the hill. The Colonel was sore and couldn’t understand why our boys couldn’t break up those nests. Then he saw the tanks were not moving and sent me to see Captain [Math] English [who would later be killed] . . . to find out the cause. The tanks were stuck in the mud.
The Colonel ordered me to follow him and when he reached the tanks, almost hub deep in the mud, he grabbed a shovel and began digging the tanks free. Other men and I also got busy digging. The Germans were sending across a heavy artillery fire, but finally we got the tangs [sic — tanks] moving and took them over the hill.
The Colonel here found some infantrymen who did not know what to do, as their officers had been killed. The Colonel instructed me to place them with the tank detachment. Later the Colonel told me to get around to the side and wipe out the machine gun nests. ‘Take fifteen men with you,’ he ordered.
‘I’m sorry,’ I told him, ‘but they have all been killed.’ ‘My God! They are not all gone?’ the Colonel cried. When I told him the infantrymen had been killed by machine guns he ordered me to accompany him, declaring he would clear them out.
I thought the Colonel had gone mad, and grabbed him. He grabbed me by the hair and shook me to my senses. Then I followed him. We went about thirty yards and the Colonel fell with a bullet in his thigh.
I assisted the Colonel into a shellhole, bandaged his wounds and took observations of our surroundings[.] Shells flew all about us. Two hours later the Colonel revived and ordered me to go to Major [Sereno] Brett and instruct him to assume command of the tank corps [sic — 304th Brigade]. I found him and did so. Then [I] reported back to the Colonel. A few moments later the Colonel, with three tanks, one French and two American, camped about twenty yards from the shellhole.
‘Jump out there,’ the Colonel ordered, ‘and scatter those tanks or they will be blown up.’ I rushed out, gave the order and came back again. The American tanks got away, but the French tank was shot to pieces and the men killed.
The colonel then ordered me to get out on top of our shellhole and prevent any oncoming tanks from getting below us, the fire from the enemy being terribly heavy. Then the Colonel said, ‘Joe, the Germans have been making this shell hole a living hell since you left. Get a tank and wipe out those nests.’ This was done and after that I found four infantrymen who carried the Colonel to the rear.
Angelo worked at the DuPont Powder Works before the war.