761st Tank Battalion and Allied Veterans Association

It's All about Pop Gates

Regarding POP Gates: (unintitled #30) (45 of 189)

Charles (pop Gates) LTC US Army retired, former National president of the 761st tank Battalion and Allied Veterans Association was a quite type of person. Our relationship began just a few days before the 761st becoming a part of the Patton Armor Calvary museum.
He explained to me each year their annual reunion is held in a different city. Usually the news media, at times interviewed members and wrote of their unique combat experience during WWII. They never had national recognition due them for what they did, however, the units inclusion into the museum would be a permanent fixture to educate individuals of all walks of life. Many Americans have never heard of them. It can be said approximately 99.8% of America are unaware of the unit’s, exploits, valor, and heroism. What an injustice to those Americans of past years whose intellect could have been more enriched had they been cognizant of this Black unit’s participation in the dangerous campaigns. Some of the tankers felt they were sent on suicide missions because they were Black and were expendable. They suffered over 50% casualties and never had replacement. White Armor units had replacements. Nevertheless, they were a close knit fighting unit and they did their jobs in spite of the way they were treated. Often times they performed way beyond the call of duty in order to survive.
The late Trezzvant Anderson wrote and published the book entitled “Come Out Fighting, the Epic tale of the 761st tank Battalion”. He had copyright control of this book; no pictures of anything could be copied or reproduced except for the display in the museum without his permission.
The execrator of the Trezzvant Anderson estate felt the book had the potential for financial exploitation by individual outside of the family, consequently he would not give consent for use of the book. My brief research regarding copy right law provided information that Anderson was in error to believe he had copy right authority over the book. I mailed my research and a letter to the US Attorney General in Washington D.C requesting his opinion regarding Andersons belief he had ownership of the book. His speedy reply was the book was in the public domain and I could make use of it as I desired.
Pop Gates felt “this reply was an important breakthrough. Now the book is ours to use for things to come without the previous restraints. The tankers and I will never forget all that you have done for us”.
I knew Pop Gates had been awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Silver Star Medal, and the Purple Heart Medal. I talked to some of the tankers who served under him and learned he had three tanks shot from under him. After the third tank he lead his tankers riding in a jeep with a mounted 50 cal machine gun, he said “I feel I had beaten the law of average and I did not want to push my luck. I did not want my luck to run out”. As he traveled in his jeep, he directed fire upon the enemy with great effect. I told him some of the tankers thought he was crazy…walking about with his hands in his back pockets giving orders and pointing out enemy positions. I asked him about the hands in the back pockets etc. He said “hell it was bitter cold and that was the only way I could keep them warm. The Germans thought I was crazy to, you see, they had a thing about killing a crazy person. This was one of their superstitions otherwise I would be dead”.
We did not talk about his combat experience because there were some thing’s he did want to relive.
His sister was with him at all reunions. She was a friendly caring type person always there to look after his medical needs. Pop Gates was a diabetic, when he learned my wife also was a diabetic the two of them became friends and shared individual experiences ect. The four of us spent times together at each reunion we looked for each other and we enjoyed and treasured the times spent together. He once told us if we wanted to taste the best Bar BQ in the world come to Kansas City. The Gates family was widely known throughout the state of Kansas for their Bar BQ. We never got to Kansas City where he lived nevertheless, we continued to keep in touch with each other until he passed away. I will always remember Pop as a friend, a person easy to talk with and as a tanker who loved the 761st


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