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"Vow to a Dead Foe": The Haunted Tank and her crew are in a nightmare theater of war, to the eternally freezing and fog-bound graveyard island of Attu in the Aleutians off the Alaskan coast. The higher brass want them to test the M-3 Stuart, to see how it'll perform in sub-zero terrain. They com
Appearing in "Vow to a Dead Foe"
- Lieutenant Genji (Dies)
- Unnamed Japanese soldiers
- Yuguri (Flashback only)
- Genji's mother (Flashback only)
- Attu Island, Alaska
- Japanese burial urn
- The Haunted Tank
- Mitsubishi J2M Raiden Navy Interceptor Fighter
Synopsis for "Vow to a Dead Foe"
The Haunted Tank and her crew are in a nightmare theater of war, to the eternally freezing and fog-bound graveyard island of Attu in the Aleutians off the Alaskan coast. The higher brass want them to test the M-3 Stuart, to see how it'll perform in sub-zero terrain. They come under attack by Japanese shells, and they move to conceal the tank in the blanketing fog. As the Haunted Tank clambers up a mountain to the snowy summit, Jeb pulls out a Japanese burial urn and removes its cover. He prepares to pour out its contents into the wind, but then the breeze dies down to nothing. Suddenly, a pair of screeching Buzzard planes dive down through the clouds to fire onto them...
The urn contains the ashes of Japanese soldier Lieutenant Genji. Ten months earlier, Genji was back in Japan on duty to return the urns of deceased soldiers to their families. He receives order to ship out with the army, and his mother hands him a good luck sash containing a thousand signatures collected by his sweetheart Yuguri. Lt. Genji's journey to war takes him far from home, to the dank island of Attu. In the long months, they waited for the enemy to arrive, his memories of his sweetheart back home keeping him warm. Finally, the waiting was over when the island fog was shredded by shell and flame. Genji faced the enemy for the first time - the Haunted Tank. They had found the bunker he had been hiding in, and its commander Jeb Stuart saw it the perfect opportunity to test the tank's effectiveness in the harsh terrain. They destroy the bunker, but Jeb hears moaning from inside and jumps out to investigate. He finds Genji's badly injured body, pulling it out from the burning debris. By saving Genji, Jeb has dishonored him by not allowing him a samurai's death by the Code of Bushido. He makes Jeb swear to him that he will take his body back to the flames, and scatter his ashes from the mountaintop. Jeb agrees. The tank is then attacked by a squad of Japanese soldiers who heard the commotion, and during the fight one of the enemy lobs a grenade in Jeb's direction. With his last strength, Genji hurls himself at Jeb shielding the American from the blast. He is then enveloped by the flames. After the battle is over, Jeb enters the shattered bunker and finds a Japanese funeral urn inside. He scoops up the ashes and remains of Genji and whispers that he will keep his promise to the dead soldier.
Back on the mountaintop, the Haunted Tank is finishing up the battle with the fighter planes. They are able to take out the first one quickly, but the second one moves around for a second pass at them. As it swoops down overhead Rick is ready for them and a single blast hits it dead center, destroying it. The battle over, Jeb now returns to the problem of the ashes. Without any wind, he isn't able to spread the ashes on their way home as he had promised. The ghost of his ancestor General Stuart appears, and is able to help out. With the General's breath, he is able to stir up the wind enough to carry the ashes towards their trip back to Japan. His promise now kept, Jeb orders Slim to head back down the mountainside, but the tank begins to slide down sideways towards the edge of the cliff. General Stuart is able to lend a helping hand once again by edging the tank back away from the Cliffside. While the others think Jeb's as nutty as a fruitcake for talking to a "ghost", none of them can explain how they survived the cliff. Maybe Jeb ain't so cracked after all!
Appearing in "Hero in a Hole"
- Unnamed American Private
- Unnamed American Private "Joe"
- Unnamed German soldiers
- Panzerkampfwagen IV
Synopsis for "Hero in a Hole"
Deep in the woods during a cold winter day in 1944, not far from the enemy lines, a green Private sits in his foxhole looking out into the trees for any sign of enemy movement. He's been told that the Germans are within the woods, and he's not afraid to admit he's scared to death. His only comfort is knowing that only a few feet from his position, in a second foxhole, is a combat veteran named Joe. Joe gives the young Private courage, and he knows that he can't go wrong if he just sticks near Joe and does whatever Joe does.
Night falls, and the screaming of incoming enemy shells breaks the silence. The Private wants to run, but Joe stays put so the Private does too. The Private watches as a Panzer tank rolls right up to their position, driving right on top of their foxholes. The Private quickly attaches a grenade to the tank's tread, because he knows that's what Joe will do. Minutes later, and their grenades tear the treads right off the Panzer. Joe shouts out to see if the Private is okay. The night continues on as the shelling gets more intense. The Private then spots a squad of Germans heading in their direction. He looks over at Joe, who is tossing a grenade out of his foxhole at them, and the Private does likewise. The grenades take out some of them, and the two shoot down the remaining Germans.
At dawn, the snow finally stops as the sun begins to come up over the horizon. The Private sticks his head out of his foxhole to thank Joe for being such a great inspiration, only to see that it wasn't Joe at all but another Private just like him and just as green! The new man explains that they moved him up to this position just after sundown to replace Joe who was wounded in the first shelling. The new guy thanks the Private, telling him that he was watching him all along and doing whatever he did!
Appearing in "The First and the Last"
- Unnamed American Lieutenant
- Unnamed American Sergeant (Dies)
- Private Swanson (Dies)
- Private Levy (Dies)
- Private Jackson (Dies)
- Private Gino (Dies)
- Private Casey (Dies)
- Private Nelson (Dies)
- Rommel's Afrika Korps
- American General
- Kasserine Pass, Tunisia
- Bronze Star medal
- Willys MB U.S. Army Jeep
Synopsis for "The First and the Last"
The searing sun hangs over Hill 204 in the Kasserine Pass. From the east approach the Afrika Korps, a patrol of seasoned veterans fresh from their triumph of Rommel's victorious campaigns. From the west comes a patrol of American G.I.s, untried in the furnace of combat. The American's first mission is to take Hill 204 by noon, before the rest of their outfit moves through the pass. The hill looks deserted, so the Lieutenant sends out two of his men to scope it out. The Sergeant of the squad wants to go first, but is told by the officer that his place is to command, not to fight. The first two soldiers are quickly mowed down by enemy fire before they even reach the hill. The enemy has dug in at the top of the hill, waiting for the Americans to approach and chop them down.
The Lieutenant orders four more of his men to move out, fifteen yards apart, until they are close enough to lob grenades into the machine gun nest at the top. The orders are "by the book", and as the officer says it's the only way to win the war. As the four soldiers move out, the Sergeant has heard enough and rushes out to join them as they are gunned down by the Germans on top of the hill. Every one is killed, including the Sergeant. Meanwhile, the German Afrika Korps soldiers hear the commotion and fire from the hill and quicken their pace to join the fight. At the bottom of the hill, the Lieutenant stands before his dead soldiers, every one of the shot down until he is the only one left standing to fight. With a sudden burst of anger, the Lieutenant charges at the hill, running past the bodies of his dead men and through the barrage of bullets raining down on him. Miraculously he reaches the crest of the hill and throws a grenade into the machine gun nest, destroying it. He then picks up the machine gun and turns it onto the approaching Afrika Korps.
Later, as the rest of the division arrives at the Kasserine Pass, a general riding past in his jeep spots the Lieutenant slowly coming down from the hill. He quickly stops and runs out to meet the tired soldier. For his outstanding heroism in being the lone survivor in taking the hill, the Lieutenant is awarded the first Bronze Star of his regiment. A the General rides away, the Lieutenant unpins the medal from his chest and pins it to the helmet of one of his dead soldiers. He looks down at the men who gave their lives for the hill, remembering that he wasn't the first up the hill... he was the last.
- Another story during the Battle at Kasserine Pass takes place in the third story of G.I. Combat #220.
- Attu Island (from the first story) was the site of the only World War II land battle fought on an incorporated territory of the United States (the Battle of Attu), and its battlefield area is a U.S. National Historic Landmark.
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