95-year-old World War II veteran gets a ride in a tank

CHARLESTOWN — Clarence Smoyer got a surprise on Wednesday. The 95-year-old World War II veteran and Allentown, Pa., resident was in Boston for a special event for the release of “Spearhead,” a book that tells Smoyer’s story.

Written by Adam Makos, the book was released Tuesday. In “Spearhead” Makos chronicles the exploits of Smoyer, who fought with the US Army’s 3rd Armored Division, which was nicknamed the Spearhead Division. “In 1945, Smoyer defeated a German Panther tank near the cathedral in Cologne, Germany — a dramatic duel filmed by an Army cameraman that was seen all over the world,” the Associated Press reported.

Smoyer, one of the last surviving World War II tank gunners, would make comments to Makos about how he’d like to get aboard one again. So Makos was surprised with a ride through the streets of Boston in a Sherman tank. Makos got an assist by Pyramid Hotel Group CEO and Principal Rick Kelleher.

It all happened as Smoyer was at the Residence Inn in Charlestown thinking that a taxi cab would be how he would travel to the book signing at the USS Constitution on the other side of the Charlestown Naval Yard. When he walked outside, the Sherman tank was waiting for him.

After inspecting the tank, Smoyer was helped to the turret, where he was held secure by a harness, and waved to a cheering crowd during a short parade led by a color guard to the USS Constitution Museum. The tank, called “Liberty,” was on loan from the American Heritage Museum in Stow. To make it all happen,

All photos are by Bill Brett

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