Jump to content


Significant Emotional Events


  • Please log in to reply
117 replies to this topic

The_Chieftain #1 Posted May 03 2016 - 19:02

    Military Specialist

  • Administrator
  • 10145 battles
  • 9,593
  • [WGA-A] WGA-A
  • Member since:
    09-08-2011

*
POPULAR

Warning! The following is based purely on personal experience and speculation, and should not be considered a researched historical paper!


A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing a WWII tank crewman for a Wargaming project; the first of the results just got released yesterday (The "War Has No Nation video). But one of the responses to a question I posed to him led me to thinking. As you could imagine, we got to the topic of 'meeting enemy tanks.' Understandably, he said that he was always concerned about meeting up with a Panzer IV or Panther because they had long 7.5cm guns that could destroy his Sherman. What I found interesting, however, was that he didn't seem to differentiate between the two vehicles in terms of how difficult they were to kill. What was important to him was whether or not they could kill him. And the reason he said he loved the Sherman was that it kept him safe from all the various nasties flying around in battle, namely bullets and artillery fragments. Nothing about the reliability, the speed or firepower -- just that he saw a lot of folks outside his tank killed by things from which he was protected.

And after a bit of a think (yes, I do that on rare occasions), I realized I had a similar conclusion. When I was roaming around in Iraq, not once did I concern myself with how easy or difficult something may have been to kill; it was more a matter of "If I keep my head out of the hatch, will I get killed?" I had an issue since I had watched Patton: there's a scene in the movie where Patton is telling Bradley about imagining a bullet going right to his nose. So as I rode around, I kept imagining an AK round heading right for the bridge of my nose as I was at 'eyball defilade' (high enough that my eyes were outside the hatch).


I'm in a $2.6 million tank, one of the most lethal, best-protected killing machines on the planet. But had the opposition aimed about three inches higher, I'd have been ended by a 25-cent bullet. Death is no respecter of what the on-paper specifications say.

But the bottom line, I think, is that one is usually far more concerned about one's own survival than anyone else's, especially if that 'anyone else' is someone you don't know a thing about.

The other impression I got from Tom (the veteran in question) was that when the shooting started, he was either not worried, or varying shades of worried, depending on what was going on. He just did his job, shoving rounds into the breech as best he could. This also matches my experience. Though there was plenty of worrying (and time to worry) in the 99.99% of the time that nothing was going on, once the shooting started, one just got down to business.

Ultimately, I only have my own personal experience to relate to. I don't think even interviews with the most eloquent of folks (not to say I'm not one of those) are going to be able to truly convey one's reactions in the moment.

In my case, like (I think) many, my first exposure was indirect fire -- though as it was just a couple of mortar rounds, it was hardly a traumatic baptism. When it came to direct fire, probably the biggest problem in a tank is figuring out that you're being shot at in the first place. For me, it was a night encounter, and my first thought was not actually "Ohmygodtheyaretryingtokillme," but "Oh, hey, look at that. Tracers." Followed closely by "Huh. They're coming in my direction". And then, eventually, "Wait. They're shooting at me. I'd better duck." At which point, based on what my gunner later told me, he never saw the TC and loader get down into the turret as quickly as we did at that moment. "SCAN RIGHT!" was the first thing out of my mouth, and then it was just 'revert to training.' Initially, I think we took the whole 'getting shot at' thing rather personally, but we got over that after a few weeks. Of course, even after seeing the (small) elephant, we still had difficulty with the whole 'realizing you're under attack' thing. I recall one convoy where I was the lead vehicle -- I heard a pop, which didn't seem that bad, happened to look over my shoulder after a few seconds, and saw that the HMMWV behind us had come to a stop, the troops had gotten out and they were shooting in all four directions. "Umm, driver, stop for a second. Gunner, come left. Something's going on." To drive home the point: Tanks are blind.


First the truck blew up, then lots happened. Note the Bradley to the left, the tank and HMMWV are facing opposite directions, and for good measure, one of the Kiowas in the background was forced down. I saw almost none of it. I spent much of the engagement saying "I can't see anything to shoot at!"

So where am I going with this?

I guess it comes down to the matter of "Analyzing things externally." It is often said, "Ask a Sherman tanker if he would rather be in a Sherman or Panther, and see what they say." Besides questions like "If I'm a Panther tanker and my tank breaks down, does that mean I have to go into battle as an infantryman?," it does spur the counter-question of "Ask a Panther tanker if he would want to go into combat against Shermans?"


Did a Sherman do this? Do you think the crew cared?

After all, we know that Armored Force lost some 1,500 tankers killed in the entire war. Plus some officers, clerks, etc. who weren't on Armored Force's books, but we're probably still looking at well under 2,500. I strongly doubt that the numbers of killed Panzertruppen is that low. I further suspect that, much as has been noted in the memoirs of aviators, the growing number of empty seats at the chow table probably had more of an effect upon their thinking than the mechanics of relative equipment capability or the results of any single engagement. I would wager that a German tanker who saw his friends get killed in combat with the Americans (or Soviets, or British or whoever) are going to be worried about going up against a Sherman. Not because the Sherman itself is particularly dangerous, but because the Sherman is used by the American Army, and the American Army, with all its components, is particularly dangerous.

In other words, I think a lot of the discussion common on the web today is entirely missing the point. As the movie said, when the first round goes past your ear, politics goes out the window. Your primary motivation is survival. Arguing over whether a Sherman or M36 is more dangerous to you tomorrow is missing the woods for the trees, as you're really concerned about getting through to the end of the war next year, while an entire army is trying to kill you with everything it's got. If you're on the side that's winning at that time, you might feel better about your chances, but the worry will remain. But at that, that's when you're sitting in the rear, having chow. When the shooting starts, when you are having that significant emotional event, it comes down to 'do your job, your colleagues will do their jobs, and you'll come out OK in the end.' That's the mantra, and you don't stop to consider it until well after the fight is over. In fact, the event isn't all that significant, given you're probably not paying any attention to your emotions at the time. (Note: I had Pigeon of War review this article, and his experience matches mine. In his first engagement, even after the second truck in his convoy got blown up, he just went about his business and didn't really think about it.)

Anyway, that's my two cents on the matter. As I said, this is purely my personal opinion and observation. It's entirely possible that those of you reading this who have also been on a two-way firing range felt nothing like I did, and were either scared witless during the fighting, or felt totally invulnerable from the moment you arrived in theater unitl the moment you left. But I would ask that folks stop with the 'projected emotions' as an argument. Emotions are just that. Not reasoned, not considered, just... feelings.



TLWiz #2 Posted May 03 2016 - 19:20

    Major

  • -Players-
  • 17628 battles
  • 8,903
  • [DSSRT] DSSRT
  • Member since:
    12-26-2014
Emotions aside (but not discounted), your story says much about the importance of training too.  With little or no training to fall back upon things can go quite badly - no matter the hardware.  Good stuff.

Edited by TLWiz, May 03 2016 - 19:20.


Tank3rDude #3 Posted May 03 2016 - 19:24

    Major

  • Players
  • 9612 battles
  • 2,589
  • [_TNK_] _TNK_
  • Member since:
    12-29-2012
Very cool read, thanks Chieftain!

Sergeant_Lee #4 Posted May 03 2016 - 20:06

    First lieutenant

  • -Players-
  • 12098 battles
  • 927
  • [PIR8] PIR8
  • Member since:
    03-09-2015

Great read and some personal touches as well. As an OIF veteran (but I wasn't a tanker), I would agree with the psychological aspect of this article. Great memories.

 

Now, instead of a convoy, it's lemming train central in World of Tanks!



Da_Craw #5 Posted May 03 2016 - 20:06

    Major

  • -Players-
  • 21954 battles
  • 2,036
  • [DOG5] DOG5
  • Member since:
    05-30-2014

View PostTLWiz, on May 03 2016 - 12:20, said:

Emotions aside (but not discounted), your story says much about the importance of training too.  

Absolutely.  I am a lawyer by trade and a pilot.  One of my partners was a navy fighter pilot.  We were discussing how we reacted the first time something WENT WRONG while at the controls of a plane during landing.  Chieftain's comment about "getting down to business" was spot on.  I do not have combat experience to compare it to, but my partner says he was more afraid during approach to landing on a carrier than when he was during the landing itself or in an air to air engagement.  His reasoning was that he had more time to think about it when approaching the carrier.  He also added that he felt he always had an advantage in equipment and training over enemy pilots, but that gravity was one-up on everyone.   



qcarr #6 Posted May 03 2016 - 20:14

    Captain

  • Players
  • 27553 battles
  • 1,807
  • [REJCT] REJCT
  • Member since:
    11-22-2012
Very eloquently articulated, Chieftain!  Thank you for your words and I do hope that some of the diehard "experts" out there on the Internet vehemently arguing the minutiae of Panther/Tiger/Tiger II vs. Sherman (and Pershing) will pause to reflect when they read your piece.  07

sdrevik #7 Posted May 03 2016 - 20:30

    First lieutenant

  • Players
  • 18719 battles
  • 523
  • Member since:
    12-14-2011

View PostTLWiz, on May 03 2016 - 19:20, said:

Emotions aside (but not discounted), your story says much about the importance of training too.  With little or no training to fall back upon things can go quite badly - no matter the hardware.  Good stuff.

 

It's the reason FOR such extensive training.   You just go into automatic mode (at varying levels, depending on your rank/responsibility).   The best trained troops are generally the best troops.

 



TallyNole #8 Posted May 03 2016 - 21:16

    Staff sergeant

  • Players
  • 30493 battles
  • 287
  • [-UO-] -UO-
  • Member since:
    09-22-2013

Great article, sir!

 



thandiflight #9 Posted May 04 2016 - 00:46

    Major

  • Players
  • 71983 battles
  • 3,884
  • [SIMP] SIMP
  • Member since:
    07-10-2011
Can confirm....although as infantry I never had the pleasure of having a vehicle to duck into! There is that first "what the..." moment, the the realisation what is happening and the rest is "instinct" - and all that stuff you thought was a waste of time or an annoyance in training just kicks in. The emotions come afterwards....and they are a real mixed bag.

CoughingDragon #10 Posted May 04 2016 - 01:41

    Captain

  • Players
  • 34617 battles
  • 1,250
  • Member since:
    05-14-2011
thanks for sharing your thoughts

chazfarote #11 Posted May 04 2016 - 01:52

    Corporal

  • Players
  • 9147 battles
  • 25
  • [FH_PB] FH_PB
  • Member since:
    11-12-2012

Great times Red 1.

 

I miss them so much.

 

Blue 4 Golf.



The_Chieftain #12 Posted May 04 2016 - 02:32

    Military Specialist

  • Administrator
  • 10145 battles
  • 9,593
  • [WGA-A] WGA-A
  • Member since:
    09-08-2011

View Postchazfarote, on May 04 2016 - 00:52, said:

Great times Red 1.

 

I miss them so much.

 

Blue 4 Golf.

 

Oh, hey.

 

You did get this one, right?

Spoiler


chazfarote #13 Posted May 04 2016 - 02:53

    Corporal

  • Players
  • 9147 battles
  • 25
  • [FH_PB] FH_PB
  • Member since:
    11-12-2012
I do! I am next to the Salvadorian LDR from your platoon. In front of Larry lol

SFCPoppaK #14 Posted May 04 2016 - 03:04

    Private

  • -Players-
  • 18581 battles
  • 1
  • [R3TRO] R3TRO
  • Member since:
    03-15-2014
Thanks Chieftain, having taken pics by the crossed sabers and rolled down Route Irish a few times in 03-04 I have to agree with the majority, you have put it to better words than most. Thanks for your service and remember to stay in contact with your battle buddies. While the 22 veterans per day is overblown, even 1 a day is 1 too many. Keep tabs on those you served with, just because we are out doesn't mean that our job of taking care of soldiers is finished.

laxchem #15 Posted May 04 2016 - 03:09

    Staff sergeant

  • Players
  • 17197 battles
  • 262
  • Member since:
    01-23-2013

Those of us that have never served will never truly understand what you guys (and gals) go through. And therefore it is truly impossible for us to thank you all properly for your service.  

I think Lincoln put it best at Gettysburg "we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

 

In any case, great article and Thank You to all who have served.



RedAssassin8 #16 Posted May 04 2016 - 03:35

    Corporal

  • Players
  • 8132 battles
  • 88
  • [-MKT-] -MKT-
  • Member since:
    10-01-2012
What an interesting article sir, I as an aspiring tanker, found this really attractive to read. I wondered if at one point, did you turn into a robot with your actions like "ok, ambush, time to do this and this and that". OR do you think it depends on the type of person?

0304 #17 Posted May 04 2016 - 05:36

    Sergeant

  • -Players-
  • 33 battles
  • 139
  • Member since:
    07-24-2012

**

[Content Moderated - Inciting Unrest / Political]

- 40BelowWGA


Edited by 40BelowWGA, May 04 2016 - 11:57.


chazfarote #18 Posted May 04 2016 - 05:50

    Corporal

  • Players
  • 9147 battles
  • 25
  • [FH_PB] FH_PB
  • Member since:
    11-12-2012

View Post0304, on May 03 2016 - 20:36, said:

**

[Content Moderated - Inciting Unrest / Political]

- 40BelowWGA

 

Not the troops, the government. The troops are doing what they were indoctrinated to do. Granted it does not justify the actions of a few [edited], but for most the fault lies on governments and not the troops.

 


Edited by 40BelowWGA, May 04 2016 - 11:59.


The_Chieftain #19 Posted May 04 2016 - 07:11

    Military Specialist

  • Administrator
  • 10145 battles
  • 9,593
  • [WGA-A] WGA-A
  • Member since:
    09-08-2011

View Post0304, on May 04 2016 - 04:36, said:

**

[Content Moderated - Inciting Unrest / Political]

- 40BelowWGA

 

 

 

 You know what the kicker is? They forgot to give us oil detection equipment. The amount of holes I had to dig with the shovel.... That said, I'm not sure where I would have put it in the tank.

Edited by 40BelowWGA, May 04 2016 - 11:59.


MercuryBlack #20 Posted May 04 2016 - 07:22

    Major

  • Players
  • 18875 battles
  • 4,978
  • Member since:
    06-12-2012

View PostThe_Chieftain, on May 03 2016 - 22:11, said:

 

 You know what the kicker is? They forgot to give us oil detection equipment. The amount of holes I had to dig with the shovel.... That said, I'm not sure where I would have put it in the tank.

 

lol.

Honestly, skip the fancy schmancy equipment. Get back to basics. Dowsing rods.

 



RNGesus take the wheel!






1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users