656th Tank Destroyer Battalion

Unit History:  Activated on 3 April 1943, at Camp Bowie, Texas.  Arrived in England in December, 1944. Disembarked at Le Havre, France, on 6 February, 1945, equipped with M18's.  Entered the line near Friesenrath, Germany, on 28 February.  Pushed toward Rhine River at Remagen and crossed into bridgehead beginning 7 March.  Converted to the M36 late that month.  Supported 9th Armored Division sweep to help encircle the Ruhr in early April and then dashed eastward to the Mulde River.  Turned south and entered Czechoslovakia near St. Sedlo on 6 May. Attached to: 9th Armored Division; 78th Infantry Division.  History text from the book The Tank Killers by Harry Yeide.  Used by permission.

Combat Equipment:  2/45 - M18; Late 3/45 - M36

Commanding Officers:  Lt. Col. John C. Meador (Original CO)

Code Name/s:  Devilfish

Campaign Credits:    Rhineland........................Sept. 15, 1944 to Mar. 21, 1945

                                 Central Europe.................Mar. 22, to May 11, 1945

Awards:  Distinguished Unit Citation - 28 Feb-9 Mar 45, GO 72-45, Co C & 2nd                                                                                 Platoon, Reconnaissance Co only

Location August 1945:  Camp Campbell, KY

Additional Information/Materials:

1.)  Unit History and Yearbook.  History covers April 3, 1943 - November 15, 1944.  Includes photos of unit members with names.  Courtesy of the Tank Destroyer Association by L. L. Gill, TDA Historian.

                Part 1..................................16 Pages

                Part 2..................................16 Pages

                Part 3..................................12 Pages

2.)  Map of Unit Travels in Europe.  Courtesy of the Tank Destroyer Association by L. L. Gill, TDA Historian.

3.)  After Action Reports - from the Combined Arms Research Library of the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home, Abilene, Kansas (**).

                Feb. 17-28, 1945...................6 Pages (**)

                Mar. 1 to 31, 1945...............22 Pages (Part 1) (**)

                Mar. 1 to 31, 1945...............20 Pages (Part 2) (**)

                Apr. 1 to 30, 1945...............24 Pages

                May 1 to 31, 1945...............12 Pages (with Journal) (**)

4.)  Miscellaneous Documents-from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home, Abilene, Kansas.

                Special Order #105, May 1, 1943.........................1 Page

5.)  Miscellaneous Documents-Courtesy of Larry Kleasner, son of Louis W. Kleasner, Co. C.

                Special Order #1, Jan. 1, 1945.............................1 Page

                Homeward Bound Ship Roster, Co. C.....................5 Pages

6.)  Miscellaneous Documents - Courtesy of Adam J. Stenz, grandson of Jerome A. Stenz, Co. C.

                M1 Qualification - C Company only, March 20, 1944.......2 Pages

                Good Conduct Medal Authorization, March 27, 1944.......4 Pages

                Commendation, 9th Army, March 12, 1945....................1 Page

                Commendation, Third Corps, March 22, 1945.................1 Page

                Commendation, First Army, May 9, 1945........................2 Pages 

7.)  The Ernst Enquirer Newsletter - A six page newsletter given to the passengers aboard the U.S.S. General O.H. Ernst. The date is listed as June 24, 1945, and the 656th is listed as part of the passenger roster. Page 6 includes a few paragraphs about the 656th and their exploits in Germany. Provided courtesy of Adam J. Stenz.        

8.)  Personal Narrative - This was written by a former veteran of the 656th, during the 1980's, in response to questions he received from the author doing research for an upcoming book on U. S. tank destroyer forces.  Courtesy of the Tank Destroyer Association by L. L. Gill, TDA Historian.

                 David Cleary, Co. A Commanding Officer.................2 Pages

9.)  A grouping of formal photos showing personnel of Company C at Camp Hood, Texas, in 1944.  Courtesy of Larry Kleasner, son of Louis W. Kleasner, Co. C.  Courtesy of Becky and Vera, daughters of S/Sgt. Stanley E. Miller. (*)

                      HQ Platoon, 11-10-1944 - Names, left to right:  1st row; T/4 George L. Dennison, T/4 John H. Beltz, T/4 Louis W. Kleasner, Sgt. John D. Graveley, S/Sgt. Louis T. Strub, T/Sgt. Anthony J. Amodei, S/Sgt Arthur L. Bevers, Sgt. Roger S. Ricker.
2nd row; Pfc. Robert L. Hoag, T/5 Edward F. Vanek, Jr., Cpl. Glenn H. Vaughan, T/4 Gale W. Seevers, Cpl. Harold E. Gehring, T/4 Jerome A. Stenz, T/4 Robert J. Irwin, Pfc. William Chaney.
3rd row; Pvt. Sherman Yeasley, Pvt. Charles W. Gibson, Pfc. William T. Hodges, Pfc. Joe A. Parks, Pvt. Clifford W. Hill, Pvt. Lester Johnson, Pfc. Gilbert J. O'Rourke. (*) 

                1st Platoon, 1-12-1944-Names and hometowns, left to right: Sgt. Walter C. Linn, Gun Commander, Cleveland, OH;  Cpl. Edmund G. Klein, Gunner, Cleveland, OH;  Sgt. Earl F. Van Emburgh, Gun Commander, Newark, N.J.;  Cpl. Enzo L. Barsotti, Gunner, Middleport, OH;  Cpl. Donald R. Yeust, Gunner, Dallas, PA;  S/Sgt. Joseph V. Pineau, Platoon Sgt., Brooklyn, N.Y. 

                Additional names on back of above photo

                1st Platoon, 11-10-1944

                2nd Platoon, 1-12-1944-Names and hometowns, left to right: Sgt. John Jaroscak, Gun Commander, Cleveland, OH;  Cpl. Charles F. Erickson, Gunner, Salt Lake City, UT;  Sgt. Elmer J. Swejda, Gun Commander, Cleveland, OH;  Cpl. Harry L. Braun, Gunner, Cleveland, OH;  Cpl. George W. Fields, Gunner, San Francisco, CA;  Sgt Earl A. Gordon, Gun Commander, Masillon, OH;  Cpl. Donald C. Hollowell, Gunner, Brea, CA;  S/Sgt. Stanley E. Miller, Platoon Sgt., Ashland, KY

                Additional names on back of above photo

                2nd Platoon, 11-10-1944

                3rd Platoon, 1-12-1944-Names and hometowns, left to right: S/Sgt. Michael J. Beckins, Platoon Sgt. Newark, N.Y.;  Sgt. Paul V. Batdorf, Gun Commander, Swanton, OH;  Cpl. Chuck Kabat, Gunner, Cleveland, OH;  Cpl. Gus Mello, Gunner, Santa Ana, CA;  Sgt. Edward J. Tamerlani, Gun Commander, Brooklyn, N.Y.;  Cpl. Walter H. Haines, Gunner, Alliance, OH;  Sgt. Tom Lyden, Gun Commander, New York, N.Y.;  Cpl. Doyle F. Sargent, Gunner, Belpre, OH.

                3rd Platoon, 11-10-1944 - Corporal Marshall Smith is sitting at the left end of the 2nd row from the front.  Thanks to his son, Marshall, for the ID.

10.)  HQ Company Photo - Taken at Camp Hood on March or May 18, 1944.  The soldiers are individually numbered and page two provides a full roster of names.  Capt. Clarence M. Thieme is listed as the Commanding Officer.  Provided courtesy of Paul Stevens.

11.)  Photo Gallery