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"Different War - Same Faces!": After days and nights of continuous fighting in France, during which they snatched moments for chow and sleep and lived in their uniforms, the Crew of the Haunted Tank finally get a much needed break. Jeb stops the tank in a clearing in the Argonne Forest near a po
- Retread...? You're tougher'n a tank tread... When Arch was killed... Gus took his place... You'll take my place, Sarge... the war's gotta go on... Promise...?
- -- Slim Stryker (final words)
Appearing in "Different War - Same Faces!"
- Unnamed German soldiers
- Unnamed American WW1 Infantrymen (Flashback only)
- Thompson submachine gun
- The Haunted Tank
- Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger Single-Engine Aricraft
- Panzerkampfwagen IV
Synopsis for "Different War - Same Faces!"
After days and nights of continuous fighting in France, during which they snatched moments for chow and sleep and lived in their uniforms, the Crew of the Haunted Tank finally get a much needed break. Jeb stops the tank in a clearing in the Argonne Forest near a pond so that the crew can bathe and wash their stinking uniforms. While they frolic in the water, they are surprised by an attack from a German fighter plane. They dive deep into the water, but Rick is shot up bad. Jeb, who had decided to wait at the tank instead of join the others for a swim, unloads his machine gun into the attacking plane and destroys it. The others quickly load the wounded Rick onto the tank and head back towards base. They reach the field hospital and hand Rick over to the medics. Jeb tells Rick that they'll have to get a replacement for him, but only until he's well enough again for duty.
The next day, the replacement gunner introduces himself to Jeb and the others - Sergeant William "Bill" Craig, a thirty-year veteran and survivor of the First World War. Slim immediately takes a dislike to the Sergeant, calling him a "Gran'Pop" and "Retread", and saying that they'll be spending more of the time helping him around than fighting. Jeb breaks the two up just before they begin to swing fists at one another. The Lieutenant orders everyone to mount up and get ready for patrol detail.
While on patrol, Sgt. Craig apologizes to Lt. Stuart and tells him that Slim reminds him of a few loudmouths he knew in his old outfit back during WW1. Craig tells Jeb that he served in the horse cavalry at Fort Riley under the command of Captain (later General) Patton. He spent his duty taking care of the horses, and when war was declared and they were shipped out, Craig spent time calming the spooked horses by sleeping with them in their stalls. But when they arrived in France, the horses were taken away from them to haul artillery pieces and Craig and his men were placed in the new "Mechanized Cavalry". He saw action in the Argonne Forest, Belleau Woods, St. Mihiel... and by the end of the war was promoted to sergeant. After the war, Sgt. Craig stayed in the army for a full thirty years acting as a tank instructor, and when war broke out once again he was shipped across to continue training at the front line. Craig yearned to return to action, and finally after pestering the top brass enough was sent to join the crew of the Haunted Tank. As Craig finished his story to Jeb, he jumps from the tank and rushes to a nearby cemetery. Jeb orders Slim to stop and wait for him. Craig recognizes the names on the tombstones from the men he fought with during World War One, and realizes that he's just an old man among the fresh faces.
HQ radios the Haunted Tank to inform them that Panzers have been spotted heading towards a nearby enemy fuel depot. Their orders are to stop them at all costs until reinforcements can arrive. Jeb orders Craig back to the tank, telling him to take Rick's place as gunner. Craig is upset that he's given such a small job, and Slim tells him that maybe he's ready to retire. The tank rolls onward until finally Jeb spots the enemy fuel depot ahead. Jeb orders Slim to fire, but Slim is busy yelling at Craig for manning the machine gun instead of loading the cannon for him. Craig moves back to load, but drops the shells on the floor. The Germans spot the Haunted Tank approaching and open fire on it. They manage to destroy one Panzer, but Jeb is wounded during the firefight. Sgt. Craig, having finished loading the cannon, jumps up and takes Lt. Stuart's place in command before anyone else can say otherwise. They move down and take out two more Panzers, but a blast send shrapnel raining into the innards of their tank and knocks out both Slim and Gus. Without anyone steering, the Haunted Tank runs out of control down the hill and through the fuel drums towards the German infantry. Now out of ammo and on his own, Sgt. Craig grabs a tommygun from below and leaps up to surprise the approaching Germans, killing them all.
With more Panzers in the distance heading towards them, Sgt. Craig joins the others below who have now awoken and are taking care of their wounds. However, Slim's wounds are too great. As they drag him from out of the tank, the Panzers are attacked by American reinforcements having just arrived in the nick of time. Slim is placed on the ground. Now awake, Slim tells Craig that he was wrong about him, and that, just as Gus took Arch's place when he was killed in action, Slim wants Craig to take his. He can sleep easy knowing that a good soldier is carrying on for him. Craig promises as Slim breathes his last breath. The Haunted Tank and its crew mourn the loss of a hero...
Appearing in "Body Count"
- Pvt. Arnie Heller
- Unnamed American soldiers
- Unnamed Japanese Soldiers
- Unnamed American Infantry Captain
- The Bayonet
Synopsis for "Body Count"
The bayonet of a young private named Arnie Heller reminisces on its purpose in life. As Pvt. Heller uses it to kill an attacking Japanese soldier, it remembers it's training back at Fort Benning, and later in combat when Arnie discovered its many uses, like sending messages with a bandanna tied to its end, gouging the mud out of a tire, or even such simple uses as a can opener. But it was in the Solomon Islands where Arnie drew a special patrol and found the ultimate use for it.
Pvt. Heller and his squad are informed that the Japanese are preparing to attack. They are ordered to knock out their communications and stop them before they can even get started. His Captain assigns Pvt. Heller two men to infiltrate the Japanese main communications center and destroy it. Arnie and his squad make it through the enemy lines, but find the communications center to be full of dozens of Japanese soldiers. Arnie has an idea, and tosses his bayonet through the tent flap at the terminal connection for the Japanese power generator. It hits, throwing the communications center into darkness. Arnie and his men attack! They manage to overpower the Japanese and destroy the center, halting the attack on the American lines. But Arnie is killed during the fight, his bayonet lying next to him. It had one last purpose to fill - staked into the ground to mark the grave of one brave American soldier.
Appearing in "Soldier in the Sky!"
- Colonel Harlan
- Lt. Alan Curry
- Unnamed German Infantry soldiers
- Unnamed American Medics
- Atmospheric weather balloon
- Panzerkampfwagen IV
- American spotter plane
- Dodge WC-54 Ambulance
Synopsis for "Soldier in the Sky!"
June 5, 1944: As the General staff convenes for a final briefing by General Eisenhower at Supreme Allied Headquarters in London, the staff are informed that the main attack on Normandy Beach will begin in less than six hours. Colonel Harlan, one of the General's staff, informs the General that the attack is 24 hours too soon. His meteorology reports state that there will be heavy nimbus acceleration at that time, meaning that the sky will be too cloudy for air support. His suggestion is that the attack should be postponed.
On June 6th, with the weather clearing, the Allied forces storm the French coast. After the main attack, Colonel Harlan and his meteorology specialists arrive on the beach under fire. Shortly after, at Division Control, they send up an atmospheric weather balloon containing sensitive radio instruments to transmit the conditions, is sent up. The information obtained is sent to Lt. Alan Curry, who relays them to the waiting artillery units. This information is used to plan the attack on the German lines, clearing a route for the advancing American infantry. But not long after, the American lines are forced to fall silent, having moved so fast as to outrace their supply lines and ran out of ammo. The Germans halt their retreat, counter-attacking.
Working fast, Lt. Curry takes control of a single-wing spotter plane. He flies it up into the clouds, and is quickly spotted by German artillery and destroyed. Col. Harlan watches as the plane, and his comrade, are destroyed in a great ball of fire. Moments later, the clouds begin to stir. Lightning strikes, and it begins to rain! The rain soaks the ground, bogging down the German artillery and tanks in the mud. Col. Harlan realizes that Lt. Curry must have filled the plane full of dry ice he got from an ambulance in order to seed the clouds - a familiar weatherman's strategy. He gave his life to create the rain.
Appearing in "Killing is a Business"
- Colonel Furioza
- French Foreign Legion agents
- Freighter captain
- Arms dealer
- Unnamed Latin American villagers
- Ocean Freighter
- Jeep Wagoneer
Synopsis for "Killing is a Business"
At the café La Ronde on the left bank of the Seine in Paris, the three Mercenaries - "Prince" Edwards, Horst Brenner, and Gordon, are trying to decide where to bring their business next when they are approached by French Foreign Legion agents threatening to bring them to justice for deserting the Legion. They are held at gunpoint, but with some quick action the Mercenaries are able to get away by knocking the agents down with their café table. The three try to run across the bridge, but a roadblock set up to block their escape pins them in a crossfire. With only one escape route left, the Mercenaries jump from the side of the bridge down into the waters of the Seine below. They are picked up by a freighter and pay the Captain passage in wet Francs to give them safe passage away from the city. That night, as the freighter puts out to sea, the Mercenaries make their decision about their next mission... Sierra Verde.
Now in Sierra Verde, and far away from the Legion's agents, the Mercenaries first pick up weapons, uniforms and a jeep from a local arms trader then make their way towards the village that had been advertised. They find the village to be a smoking rubble, but the villagers had escaped and informs them that they were attacked by soldiers of Colonel Furioza. They are told that Col. Furioza and his band of murderers steal their food, seize they women, and force the villagers to serve as slaves. Upon hearing the story, the Mercenaries ask how they will be able to pay them, and the villagers bring out their most valuable possessions, paying them with wedding rings, pigs, goats, and even offering them their women as wives! The Mercenaries refuse the payment but take the job, deciding to collect their fee from Col. Furioza. One of the villagers granddaughters, a woman named Paloma, offers to guide them to Furioza's hideout.
After filling backpacks with supplies from their jeep, the Mercenaries and Plaoma head out towards the cliffs. Using a plan inspired by the marines at Iwo Jima, the Mercenaries plan to blast Furioza and his men out of the caves where they hide. Gordon is sent to recon the area around the caves by himself, and during his mission he spots Col. Furioza himself riding up the trail towards the caves on his horse. Gordon jumps him, knocking the Colonel unconscious. Then, stealing the Colonel's uniform, he disguises himself as Furioza in order to get a closer look at the caves and plant the explosives. On his way he is spotted by Prince and Horst who, not knowing it's their friend, shoot at him. Gordon manages to escape death by his comrades and enters the caves. As he is planning the explosives, Col. Furioza arrives wearing Gordon's uniform and is immediately shot down by his own men. Gordon finishes setting the explosives and escapes the caves just as one of the soldiers trips the wire and sets off a tremendous explosion that kills everyone within the cave system.
Back at the village, Paloma readies herself to be handed over to the Mercenaries as payment for their services. They accept the payment, buy tell Paloma that they'll return for her in five or ten years, when she's grown up.
Appearing in "The Last Cavalry Charge!"
- German bomber crew
- German Artillery soldiers
- American Artillery commander "Skipper"
- Australian and New Zealand Army Corps ("ANZACS") soldiers
- American Infantry soldiers
- French farmer
- Boileau, France
- Mk. 2 hand grenade
- Sugar cubes
- The Haunted Tank
- German Heinkel He 111 H-20 German bomber
- German Panzerkampfwagen IV
- German Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. G Assault gun
Synopsis for "The Last Cavalry Charge!"
Rick has been released from the field hospital after the wounds he sustained from the last battle, and while on recuperation leave in town is told by the others of Slim's death. Rick takes the news hard, and tries to drink himself drunk to forget it. While the others console Rick, Sgt. Craig takes a bowl of sugar cubes and feeds them to a nearby horse, an old cavalryman's habit. Returning back to base later that day, Jeb and his men are given a new assignment - to head for Boileau and back up the Anzacs that are defending a bridge near the town. On the way to the bridge, Rick and Craig get into an argument. Rick doesn't like Craig, and believes that he can never take the place of his lost friend Slim.
When the Haunted Tank arrives at Boileau, they find the bridge being blown to bits by an attacking German bomber plane. Craig immediately jumps into the gunner's position out of habit, and is scolded by Rick who sharply tells him that he's the gunner and Craig is to load him. Rick takes careful aim and is able to shoot down the bomber with only one shot. With the bridge down and the American Infantry quickly moving towards them, Jeb orders the tank to be moved into a position in the water to protect the downed bridge. The infantry is still able to cross by climbing down and across the damaged bridge sections in the water. Their crossing is interrupted by an approaching Panzer tank, who begins to take shots at the American troops in the water. The Haunted Tank moved through the water to get a clear shot at the Panzer, and then destroys it with an armor-piercing shell at point-blank range. The Panzer rolls into the water, causing the water level to begin rising over the gun-level in the Haunted Tank. Jeb orders his crew topside, just as a German assault gun appears by the side of the river. The crew of the Haunted Tank pour everything they have with their handguns, but they are no match for the German tank. Sgt. Craig dives into the water, swimming for shore. As he reaches dry land, he can hear Rick call him a coward for running from the battle. As the Germans move in for the kill, Craig appears behind them, riding a horse he had seen earlier in a field as they approached the village. The Germans turn their attention to the lone rider, but Craig is able to get close enough to the gun and throw a grenade into its hatch. The Assault gun is destroyed! AS Jeb and the others watch as Craig appears on the shore to signal them that all safe, Rick admits that the sergeant isn't a coward after all. In fact, he's crazy enough to be one of them!
- The second story "Body Count" is told from the viewpoint of a bayonet.
- Both the writer and artist for the third story "Soldiers in the Sky" are uncredited.
- Slim Stryker, who dies this issue, is the second of the Haunted Tank crew to be killed in battle during World War 2. The first, Arch Asher, was killed back in G.I. Combat #162.
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Links and References
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