The legend of this one-of-a-kind incident deemed the Special Forces tank is not rooted in World War Two, but I can’t help but make the comparison to pictured fictional [assumed,] tank commander. Sergeant Oddball, from one of the greatest military movies of all time, Kelly’s Heroes wherein the personality of a man who in the face of danger will shout, “Crazy! I mean like so many positive waves maybe we can’t lose! You’re on!” This is the personality of the man in this legend, but our guy is entirely more independent whilst demonstrating a very similar set of characteristics to Oddball. Yet they both share the core traits that are required of the kind of wild man who could leave such a known-unknown mark upon military history.

The man in question is neglected in official records, and his exploits are greatly unknown. To many, he is considered a disgrace, unprofessional, without military bearing, and so yet amongst the military personnel who claim to have encountered him; he was a hero, an underdog hero in the mainstream sense. In fact, most people won’t find his story as amazing in its inglorious fashion- there are few songs sung for those who truly make their own way in the military. Especially those who don’t find merit in anyone service member who lacks the Hollywood off-the-shelf operator concept of what anyone in uniform may be to a keyboard commando or those who honestly, just take the military too seriously; especially for those who refuse to follow orders, and make their mark against the enemy – in their own way.

In the midst of the Gulf War, as Saddam’s Iraqi Army was still believed to be a force to be reckoned with. American-led allied forces drew a line in the sand along the Saudi Arabian borders of Iraq and Iraqi-occupied Kuwait. In 1991, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 678 authorizing member states, cooperating with the government of Kuwait, to use all necessary means to enforce a prior resolution demanding that Iraq withdraw unconditionally from Kuwait. Among those forces, was a man who was destined to shape the war on his own accord.

The first time I heard the story of this man I was dismissive primarily because the story-teller was completely out of his mind, and barely spoke English. Albeit, and up until the last veterans of the Gulf War either left the Army or moved to positions outside of my sphere of influence, their stories of an unquestioned and lone soldier in an M1a1 Abrams Main Battle Tank was very well alive. From the words of multiple, now retired and senior military sources I pass on to you the exploits of an infamous man who alone wrought hell on the Iraqi Army, and maintained his battlefield presence through a bit of charisma and a lot of luck.

Dang-old Kevlar, I need my horse,

As I mentioned above the first time I heard the story it was the most unbelievable, and that’s the version that I now choose to share. To your benefit, I’m not the unintelligible spoken-word originator who I had to endure. The man, I heard the story from was a Louisiana native, from Creole country – born, bred, raised and unchanging in his thinking since he was born. A fact the was clear as his through processes were always first in Creole, and with a bit of delay, he would translate what happen in English to Creole, and then back into English. It was a painstaking process you could visibly observe and often hear.

His linguistic display was further complicated because he had spent the better part of the past twenty years, to that point, in Germany. Listening to him was a factored challenge, especially when he was agitated or excited, beyond the Creole and English spectrum, as bits of German would work their way into his sentences at the oddest points. For example, “Dang-old, I-I tell you again, now privates. I ain’t, jwenn dang-old kevlar, I need a horse. Where’s my horse? Mmmhhmm, immer tagen, Berlin!” To complicate matters and what ensured that both my fellow-soldiers and I understood this man, is that he was our First Sergeant. A Drill Sergeant Badge wearing, First Sergeant who would often wear his Drill Sergeant hat, even though he had left that duty a few years ago and we were stationed in Germany. He was a man of his own regard, but he was the big boss for young Private, E-1 Clay.

And yet despite the language barrier, you knew what he wanted. His methods at first glance may appear mad, but his delivery in instruction and leadership were sound.