Cloyd M. Crosslin
Biography: Cloyd Millard Crosslin was born on March 18, 1926, in Florence, Alabama. He was the son of Alex Crosslin and Mary Vandiver and attended local schools through the grammar level. Prior to the war, he was working as a farm hand.
Service Time: Cloyd entered the service on August 18, 1943, and after his basic training, he continued training within the U.S., until he was assigned to Company C of the 803rd Tank Destroyer battalion. The 803rd had shipped overseas on June 24th and had spent almost a year in England, continuing their training until Cloyd would ship to England and physically join the unit in May of 1944.
It was during his early training that Cloyd has qualified as a Sharpshooter with the Carbine and served as a Tank Driver – Medium, as indicated on his discharge paperwork.
The preceding 11 months had the 803rd focused on additional training and their final preparations and staging at Portsmouth, in southern England. The unit boarded transports and landed at Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, on June 13, 1944.
They were equipped with M10 tank destroyers and initially helped capture St. Lô in July, before racing across northern France in August and passing through Belgium and Holland before reaching the Siegfried Line in September. The unit supported operations north of Aachen, Germany in October. It was there in support of the 30th Infantry and specifically the 117th Infantry Regiment that under unknown circumstances, Cloyd was injured and received the Purple Heart in recognition of his wounds. He related to his family that while in the area of St. Lô, the tank destroyer he was driving was hit and he was forced to crawl out the access hatch while the unit and his commanding officer was burning.
The 803rd then transferred to the Hürtgen Forest, shifting to the Ardennes just before the German offensive began in December. The were then committed against the Siegfried Line again in early 1945, and converted to the M36 tank destroyer in February. Participating in the capture of Trier, they crossed the Rhine River on March 23rd at Oppenheim, and joined the elimination of the Ruhr Pocket in April, finally pivoting and marching southeast through Austria and into Czechoslovakia.
The 803rd received credit for campaigns in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, the Ardennes and Central Europe. In addition to the Purple Heart, Cloyd was awarded credit for each of the unit’s campaigns, the EAME Ribbon, the WWII Victory Ribbon, the American Theater Ribbon and the Good Conduct Ribbon. He shipped home, arriving back in the U.S. on November 29th and was discharged on December 4th at Fort McPherson, Georgia. At the time of his discharge, he held the rank of Corporal.
Cloyd returned to Alabama and found work with the Tennessee Valley Authority as a concrete foreman on their Wheeler Dam and Yellow Creek projects. On February 16, 1947, he married the former Juanita Wilson who had been born in Florence, AL, and was the daughter of Frank Wilson and Mattie Shelton. The new couple would make their home in Killen, AL, and have three children. Mary born in 1949, Donald in 1952 and Cynthia in 1958.
In his spare time, Cloyd enjoyed gardening and spending time with his grandchildren. Cloyd passed away on July 10, 1999, and was buried in the Greenhill Cemetery in Green Hill, AL. I want to thank Cloyd’s grandson Ben for providing the information and photos of Cloyd used in this tribute. Thank you also to Find A Grave contributor, William Anthony Watkins, for the use of the grave marker photo.