This was my first broken track experience, and it was a mess. Our defensive position at Hohenfels was nothing more than a glorified mud hole, dug into the ground by the engineers. When we saw it, we said to each other "you've got to be kidding," for we had an inkling what might happen as we were already aware that our tank, B-26 of B Co. 2/32 Armor, had heavily worn end connectors. Well... when the battle started, SSG Clinton attempted to pull out of position and the left track came apart. I actually missed this portion, and the first two days, as I was declared a "casualty" for evacuation. I spent two days riding another tank after this because I was told my own tank was left behind broken. On the third day I came back to see THIS!
Yep... that's me, trying to clean some of the mud out of the track BY HAND before we would get the track under the road wheels and then push it up on the sprocket. I have no photos doing this because I was doing the work with the rest of the crew. Moreover, the way we put tracks onto the sprockets was in violation of accepted safety standards and so I didn't want a photo documenting that!
SSG Clinton and Rangel, the driver, pound and pry to straighten the fender after the track messed it up. Behind is the M-88 there to help us... only they ended up getting stuck themselves and had to wait for another M-88 to pull them out. Once they got out of the mud they could at last help us.
Below, taking a needed break. We finally got the track back on and together and rode back into the battle.
Left, another one of my broken track experiences, this time with the delight of wet sand instead of mud. This occurred at Camp Grayling in the Spring of 1981. I was TCing the Company Commander's tank (for CPT Stone, B Co. 4/37 Armor) and had already informed him of the broken track pins we had. He ordered me to move out regardless and this was the result. When I heard and felt the track come off, all I could do was put my head down and moan. It was the day before the exercise was to start and we were on a field recon. CPT Stone had to leave us behind and we spent the entire night with an M-88 fixing this thing.
In the first photo, my driver Duzan, attempts to loosen some end connectors hoping to get the self-recover process started (see detail below).
Above left and left. My gunner SGT Fern was anything but pleased. We tried to self-recover but had no rope, so there was little we could do. A guy with his deuce and a half truck with a winch came by and tried to help us. But he so overtaxed his vehicle (he was trying to shift 52 tons with his truck) that he warped his frame. When we got back home they had to evacuate his truck to higher maintenance!
We broke the track at around 1700 (5 pm), and didn't get it finally fixed until 0500 the next day. We managed to get a 20 minute nap when we learned that the M-88 trying to help us found they had their own track problem they needed to fix first. Otherwise, we got no sleep. The excercise started at 0600 and we ended up wearing MOPP 4 (protective masks and suits) for 12 hours. Needless to say... that really sucked!