"The Innocent Traitor!": A Belgian underground fighter has radioed the American HQ before he was shot dead, giving the location of a secret fuel cache for the German Panzers. The Haunted Tank is sent on their newest mission - to prevent the Germans for using the gas. It takes them hours to reach
- If the Lootenant likes to talk to a ghost-- let 'im! In my war-- the big one-- World War One-- there were a lot of crazies! All that counts is that he gets us back!
Appearing in "The Innocent Traitor!"
- Professor Voss
- Leutnant Reicker
- German Artillery soldiers
- American Infantry soldiers
- Gas grenades
- Serum "Z" hallucinatory drug
- The Haunted Tank
- Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger tank
Synopsis for "The Innocent Traitor!"
A Belgian underground fighter has radioed the American HQ before he was shot dead, giving the location of a secret fuel cache for the German Panzers. The Haunted Tank is sent on their newest mission - to prevent the Germans for using the gas. It takes them hours to reach the area, passing through the American lines that have been stretched thin due to recent attacks. AS the Haunted Tank passes through the minefield separating the lines, a huge boulder nearly smashes them as they pass. It hits the landmines, setting off a chain reaction that lights the entire area in explosions. The Haunted Tank had just stopped in time to avoid a fiery death.
Several hours later, they finally arrive at their objective, a waterfall at the edge of a river. The gas has been hidden in water-tight metal drums and dumped into the river to keep them hidden. Jeb aims the Sherman's machine gun into the water and fires. After a few shots, he finally hits one of the drums and the fuel explodes, destroying all of it. The explosion doesn't go unnoticed, and the Haunted Tank comes under fire from a nearby approaching Panzer. They turn around before the Panzer can get out another shot, and Rick fires the cannon directly into the side of the enemy tank destroying it. Jeb then orders Sgt. Craig to take them home, unaware that they have just walked straight into a German trap. The fuel drums were a decoy away from the real fuel dump, and more Panzers are waiting for them secreted in the woods. The Panzers attack, surprising the Haunted Tank. Jeb and his men are knocked unconscious by gas grenades launched from the Panzers and are taken prisoner by the Germans.
Later, back at the SS Panzer outpost, the unconscious Jeb is brought in to be examined by Professor Voss, a German doctor who has invented a new chemical known as "Serum Z". He believes the serum can be used to change the face of the war by making their enemies susceptible to hypnotic suggestion, but it remains untested. Voss injects Jeb with the serum, and as Jeb regains consciousness they implant the suggestion that when ever Jeb hears the word "Janus" he is to obey the commands he is given instantly. The Professor explains that whenever Jeb sees an American soldier he will believe them to be the enemy, and vice versa. To test the suggestion, the Professor offers Jeb his pistol and orders him to shoot them. Jeb is unable, believing the Germans to be American soldiers. Jeb asks to see his men, and is told that they are being treated at a nearby field hospital. They will take him to see them, but first he must undertake a special mission first.
Elsewhere at the SS base, two German guards are checking on the other sleeping prisoners. As they enter the stockade, they are jumped by Sgt. Craig and the others who were only pretending to be asleep. They escape and sneek into the cover of the woods. When the base commander is informed of the prisoners' escape, he moves the plan into action immediately. Jeb is led back to his tank, now being staffed by German soldiers, and sent out to lead a Panzer squadron into the American lines. Jeb believes he is being sent to attack the Germans, seeing the Panzers and their crews as Americans. The commander takes his spot in the tank directly behind Jeb, keeping his gun trained on the hypnotized man in case they are led into a trap. Not far down the road, Craig and the others spot Jeb in their tank and run out of the woods to stop him. Jeb spots them and, seeing them as German troops, open fires onto his own men. Jeb misses, and the four quickly run back under cover.
Continuing on with his deadly mission, the hypnotized Jeb spots an American anti-tank gun at the edge of their lines and open fires. The gun is destroyed and the American troops are sent scattering for cover. With this attack, the commander deems Serum Z a success and orders Jeb to lead them directly into the American lines for a direct attack. The American troops spot the group of Panzers led by an American tank moving in on their lines, but the confusion causes them to hesitate and hold their fire. Just before they cross the lines, Jeb orders the squadron to halt. While Jeb has only stopped to catch his bearings, the German Commander believes it to be a trick and open fires on Jeb. His bullets miss, but one ricochets off the side of the tank and bounces off Jeb's helmet. Jeb is knocked senseless, and when he finally shakes it off the hypnotic spell has worn off. Jeb keeps his cool and tricks the commander into thinking it was all a misunderstanding and that he is still under the spell. He orders the tanks to the left and into the area of the minefield. As they enter the minefield explosions erupt all around them, and every tank is destroyed. Jeb is thrown from his tank, but comes out of it shaken and with a broken arm.
Back at the American base hospital, Jeb is reunited with the rest of his crew and is told by Eddie that he'll probably get a medal for his bravery. Gus asks him what happened, and Jeb tells him that everything was like a fog... that disappeared when he was hit in the head!
Appearing in "This War Must Wait"
- Private Walt Schaeffer
- Homer the Mule
- American Infantry captain
- American Infantry sergeant
- German Infantry soldiers
- American Infantry soldiers
- Mortar shells
- American troopship
Synopsis for "This War Must Wait"
Deep in Oklahoma's Ozark foothills, a group of American G.I.s are unloaded from a truck on a top secret mission. For long, sweaty hours they are trudged over narrow, rocky terrain until their reach their objective - a farm hidden deep in the mountains. There, the soldiers are informed that they have been assigned to a new outfit, the 441st Muleteer Company. The men are shocked as their new steeds are marched out before them, some of them have never even seen a mule in their lives. The men train hard to get used to their new mules, but one soldier, Private Walt Schaeffer just can't seem to get the hang of his mule named Homer. In frustration, he kicks Homer in the rear, only to have Homer kick him back. As the other men laugh at him, the captain tells him to remember the lesson he's learned there. A mule is only as stubborn as his master, and that if he treats Homer gently he'll be your friend for life.
In the weeks ahead, a strong bond begins to grow between Pvt. Schaeffer and Homer. He feeds it, waters it, and grooms it every day, but still Homer refuses to do the work needed of him. The captain tells Schaeffer that there's only one thing that can be done when an animal gets that stubborn, that is to shoot it. Schaeffer pleads with the captain to give him another chance to train Homer to do the job, and finally the captain gives in. But on their return to camp they are given the orders to ship out. A few nights later, on board the troop ship heading for Sicily, Schaeffer worries about Homer should he be killed.
One week later, in the narrow mountain passes in Sicily, the mules are loaded up with supplies and readied to begin the trek to the other side where the Infantry awaits. Homer begins to bray loudly. The Sergeant tries to shut him up, but Schaeffer thinks that Homer is trying to tell them something. Home has spotted a squad of German soldiers setting up a machine gun on top of the hill, and the Americans begin to scatter for cover. However, Homer refuses to budge from the road. Schaeffer tries to get him to move, and the Sergeant moves up to shoot the mule. Schaeffer jumps on top of Homer, kicking him in the shins. Homer bolts off straight for the Germans, throwing Schaeffer off and to the ground. The Germans try to kill the mule with the machine gun, firing into the crates on Homer's back. Homer and his crates explode, killing the Germans and destroying the machine gun. The mule was carrying a crate full of mortar shells, set off by the machine gun fire. The men realize that they all own their lives to Homer, and if the Army gave medals to mules he'd sure have earned one!
- In the Editor's Note on page 16 of this issue, editor Murray Boltinoff tells the readers that they have many new Haunted Tank stories coming in the future. The first mentioned, "Out of this War" appears in the final issue of the series, issue #288. The second story mentioned, "Shootout on Skull Mountain" appears in issue #287. He also mentions two more Mercenaries stories "Devil Dust" and "Dead Winner", both of which appear in issue #286. However, he also makes mention of a third Haunted Tank story scripted and awaiting return from artist Sam Glanzman, "Who Lives, Who Dies", as well as new Kana story "The Ninja Who Would Be Emperor" and two new stories featuring the Bravos, "Big Red" and "The Grunt Who Quit the War". None of these future stories would see print, as readers would find the G.I. Combat series cancelled three issues later.
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