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We Were There

Updated: Nov 24, 2023

Throughout World War II, the 761st Tank Battalion, known as the "Black Panthers," profoundly impacted the battlefields of Europe. This article delves into their courageous journey, highlighting their pivotal role in critical battles and their challenges upon returning home.


Colonel James Moss stated, "As fighting troops, the Negro must be rated as second-class material, this primarily to his inferior intelligence and lack of mental and moral qualities." He and many high-ranking officers and officials believed the racist tropes and dispersions cast upon "colored" soldiers.


Battle of the Bulge


The Battle of the Bulge, one of the most significant battles of World War II, was a brutal clash that pitted the Allies against the German forces. It was a desperate attempt by the Germans to turn the tide of the war in their favor. The battle took place in the harsh winter conditions of the Ardennes region, where the weather itself became an enemy. Freezing temperatures, heavy snowfall, and treacherous terrain made the already tricky warfare task even more challenging.


Amidst this chaos, the 761st Tank Battalion, also known as the Black Panthers, emerged as a force to be reckoned with. Comprised mainly of African American soldiers, the battalion faced not only the physical challenges of war but also the racial prejudices that plagued the era. Despite these obstacles, the tank crews of the 761st fought with unwavering determination and courage.


Like a panther stalking its prey, the 761st fearlessly stalked the enemy, relentlessly tearing through the German lines. Armed with formidable firepower, their tanks became symbols of hope for the Allied forces. With each town and village they liberated, the Black Panthers pushed the boundaries of what was possible.


The statistics reveal the magnitude of their accomplishments. The 761st destroyed over 300 enemy vehicles, including tanks, armored cars, and artillery pieces. Their precise and swift maneuvering allowed them to neutralize countless hostile positions, clearing the way for the advancing infantry. Their efforts were not in vain, as they played a crucial role in regaining lost ground and providing critical support to the Allies.


General George S. Patton, a legendary figure in World War II, recognized the exceptional achievements of the 761st Tank Battalion. He dubbed them "a formidable force" and praised their remarkable contributions to the war effort. General Patton understood the importance of resilience and perseverance, saying, "Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom."

The Battle of the Bulge was a turning point in the war, and the 761st Tank Battalion played a significant role in the Allied victory. Their bravery and determination in the face of adversity are a testament to the indomitable spirit of those who fought for freedom during World War II.


Patton Requests 761st All African American Tank Battalion


General George Patton, a renowned military strategist known for his audacity and determination, was not one to conform to societal norms or succumb to prevailing racial prejudices. In a time when racial discrimination was deeply ingrained in American society, Patton saw beyond the color of a soldier's skin and focused on their abilities, their skills, and their unwavering bravery.


Having witnessed the courage and dedication of African-American soldiers in previous battles, Patton recognized the untapped potential of the 761st Tank Battalion. He understood that their contributions to the war effort were significant and indispensable. With an unwavering belief in their capabilities, he pursued their deployment, determined to unleash their full potential on the battlefield.


By specifically requesting an all-African American tank battalion, Patton shattered the misconceptions that had long plagued the minds of many. He aimed to prove that the strength of a unit lies not in the color of a soldier's skin but in their unwavering resolve, strategic thinking, and ability to face adversity head-on.


As Patton's request was granted, the 761st Tank Battalion became a symbol of hope and empowerment for African-American soldiers. Their inclusion in the war effort not only challenged the deeply rooted racial prejudices of the time but also "paved the way for future generations of Black soldiers to serve their country with" 1 honor and distinction.


With Patton's unwavering support and belief in their abilities, the 761st Tank Battalion embarked on a journey that would forever change the course of history. Like a thunderstorm, their courage swept across the battlefields, leaving an indelible mark on the annals of military history.


Through their unwavering determination and unparalleled skill, the 761st Tank Battalion proved themselves to be elite warriors capable of facing any challenge that came their way. Their actions on the battlefield not only earned them the respect of their fellow soldiers but also shattered the deeply ingrained stereotypes that had limited the opportunities of African-American soldiers for far too long.

As the war raged on, the 761st Tank Battalion continued showing their prowess, unwavering loyalty, and commitment to the cause. Their achievements were a testament to "that diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords, but essential elements "2 in building a solid and effective fighting force.


General George Patton's decision to request an all-African American tank battalion was pivotal in history. It challenged the status quo, shattered misconceptions, and paved the way for a more inclusive and diverse military. The bravery and skill displayed by the 761st Tank Battalion not only contributed to the ultimate victory of the Allied forces but also left an enduring legacy of courage and resilience.


Battle in Tillet


Another notable engagement for the 761st was the Battle in Tillet. The battalion bravely fought alongside the 29th Infantry Division, proving their mettle in intense combat. Like a storm raging across the landscape, the Black Panthers forged a path through the enemy lines, ensuring victory for the Allies.

Amid this fierce battle, the 761st sustained heavy casualties. However, they tenaciously pressed on, surmounting each obstacle they encountered. Their iron will and unbreakable spirit inspired their comrades and left an indelible mark on the annals of military history.


The Battle in Tillet was pivotal in the 761st Tank Battalion's journey. As they advanced through the rugged terrain, the soldiers faced many challenges. The enemy's defenses were formidable, with well-fortified positions and skilled marksmen. But the Black Panthers were not deterred.

With their tanks rumbling forward, the 761st unleashed a barrage of firepower, raining destruction upon the enemy. The loud sound of artillery echoed through the air as shells exploded and smoke billowed. The battlefield became a chaotic symphony of war, with bullets whizzing past and grenades detonating in the distance.


Amidst the chaos, the soldiers of the 761st displayed extraordinary courage and determination. They maneuvered their tanks precisely, navigating treacherous terrain and dodging enemy fire. Each battalion member played a crucial role, working together as a well-oiled machine.

The Black Panthers fought with a fierce sense of purpose. They knew that the outcome of the battle would have far-reaching consequences. It was not just about winning the engagement but about securing a brighter future for their fellow soldiers and the world at large.


As the battle raged, the 761st faced wave after wave of enemy counterattacks. The intensity of the fighting was relentless, with no respite in sight. But the soldiers remained resolute, their determination unwavering.


In the face of overwhelming odds, the 761st continued to push forward. They fought with a combination of skill, bravery, and sheer grit. Their tanks became symbols of hope as they rolled through the enemy lines, crushing everything in their path.


But victory came at a heavy price. The Battle in Tillet took a toll on the 761st physically and emotionally. The loss of comrades weighed heavily on their hearts, but it only fueled their resolve to honor their fallen brothers by emerging victorious.


When the dust finally settled, the Black Panthers stood triumphant. The Battle in Tillet was a testament to their unwavering dedication and spirit. Their bravery and sacrifice would forever be remembered, etched into the annals of history as a shining example of bravery.


Patton Awards Unit Citation for 761st


General Patton, renowned for his uncompromising standards, recognized the exceptional performance of the 761st Tank Battalion. He presented them with a unit citation, forever immortalizing their historical place. This accolade represented not only their remarkable achievements but also shattered the barriers that had long suppressed the potential of Black soldiers.


The 761st Tank Battalion proved that perseverance and skill can triumph over adversity, transcending the limitations imposed by society. Their accomplishments are a testament to the triumph of the human spirit and the power of unity.


"The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph." - General Patton


African American World War 2 Soldiers Return Home to Face Racism

Despite their heroic contributions on the battlefield, the African American soldiers of World War 2 returned home to a different battlefield altogether - one marred by racial prejudice and discrimination. The paradox of fighting for freedom abroad, only to be denied it at home, cast a dark shadow on their homecoming.


These brave soldiers, who had fought side by side with their white counterparts, were denied access to the same opportunities and faced persistent racism. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, they confronted this injustice head-on, becoming champions of the civil rights movement and architects of change in their communities.

During World War II, the 761st Tank Battalion was the first all-black tank unit to serve in the United States Army. The battalion faced immense discrimination and hostility but persevered and fought bravely on the front lines.


The 761st Tank Battalion -- a story of the triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity -- stands as a shining example of the resilience and bravery of the men of the 761st Tank Battalion. It was demonstrated through their actions that excellence knows no color. That true heroes are not defined by the outward appearance of their outer appearance, but rather by the content of their character and the courage they possess within them. Ultimately, the first all-black tank unit proved Col Moss and all the politicians and naysayers wrong! The indomitable spirit and military pride live on today in the African-American military service members who continue to serve today. I served and understood the importance of their legacy. Thank a veteran for their service because they defended your right to enjoy the precious freedoms of liberty, freedom of speech, right to vote and protest, and pursue happiness so you wouldn't have to serve and fight in conflicts.

  1. AFRICAN AMERICANS AND THE WAR HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES - Vets Hired. https://vetshired.us/african-americans-and-the-war-history-of-the-united-states/

  2. How diverse leadership teams boost innovation - Businessday NG. https://businessday.ng/amp/bd-weekender/article/how-diverse-leadership-teams-boost-innovation/


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