Tank Gunner Recalls WWII Battles

World War II veteran Gerald Scruggs witnessed most of the war through the peep holes of a Sherman tank. He lived through D-Day, the Battle of the Bulge, and was among the first troops to enter Berlin.

He was a tank gunner in an assault gun platoon. When we visited with him in his Columbus home, the 80-year-old showed us his only souvenir from the war -- a German dagger.

"The only reason I brought this home with me because Hitler's philosophy was "Everything for Germany," said Scruggs. " That's what's written on this blade."

Scruggs said he was drafted a couple years after he graduated from Hamilton High School.

"Every boy from that class except one was in the service," he said.

Scruggs invaded Europe at Omaha beach on D-Day, hours after the worst was over.

"They had a bull dozier over there, and they had all those that died in body bags," said Scruggs. "They were covering them up temporarily, you know, until they get the cemetery started later."

He said even though his unit was technically an assault gun platoon, it acted more like a reserve battalion.

"They called us everywhere. They called us over there to help the paratroopers one time and went over and helped the British one time," recalled Scruggs.

He was among the first troops to enter Belgium and Berlin.

"There was nobody ahead of us a lot of times. I mean, nothing but Germans."

He was also in Battle of the Bulge.

"It was scary, I'll tell you that," he remembered. "If you saw that movie 'Battleground' where they stopped the tanks just before they got to the gasoline there, that was my division."

He doesn't know how he survived the war.

"By the grace of God, that's all," he said.

by Alicia Smith