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  Hawg Mechanics Revive an Old Scout

The below article appeared in the 31 May 1977 edition of Stars and Stripes. According to Charlene Neuwirth, Stars and Stripes Archivist, over 25 articles in the data base of the USAREUR edition contain reference to the 11th ACR as a feature, however only one was related to the Eaglehorse. Articles printed before 1984 cannot be recalled in a key word search and are difficult to track down. If anyone can remembers any other articles that discussed the 2/11 ACR please contact the webmaster. Rights to the article retained by Stars and Stripes, used with permission.

'Old Hawg' gets new lease on life
Story and photo by Bob Cullen
BAD KISSINGEN, Germany (S&S)

One "HAWG" breathes easier these days. Saved from an ignominious end as a target on a firing range at Hohenfels, it now serves with the 2nd Squadron, 11th ACR here.

The HAWG is a World War ll vintage half-track. Rescued from the firing line, literally, at Hohenfels, the half-track has been stripped, scraped, sweated over and swore at until now it runs, drives and even looks presentable (as presentable as a combat vehicle can look).
SGTs Walter Couch and Mike Pellettera, both with H Co, 2nd Sq, 11th ACR, accepted the challenge of reviving the World War ll vehicle.

The rig looked bad. Along with being in a general state of disrepair, a new engine had to be found and the transmission unfrozen. The vehicle had French markings, and was painted OD green.
 
   
  "Sgts Mike Pellettera (left) and Walter Crouch of the 2 / 11th Armd Cav Regt, show off their 'brand new' World War ll half - track " This photo, caption and article appeared in the Tuesday, May 31, 1977 European edition of Stars and Stripes. This month we will do a feature on the article and the display vehicles of Daley Barracks. Image copyright to Stars and Stripes, rights reserved.  

Now the HAWG, taking the same nickname as Co H, sports a flashy black paint job. "Sort of like going through a history book, taking off the paint," was Crouch's description of the scraping required to fid the original metal.

To remove the many coats of paint and primer, the men turned to a fluid usually reserved for other purposes: brake fluid was painted over the half-track to moisten the decades old paint.

Now the HAWG runs. A motor pool mechanic from World War ll would find some startling surprises under the hood. The electrical system has been updated from 12 to 24 volts, and the carburetion system was borrowed from an M715 5/4 ton truck.

"At one point we had 10 to 15 carbs lying around," Couch, from Plainview Tex., said. When the original carburetors could not be coaxed to cooperate, the borrowed carb was fashioned to fit."

When asked how the half tack was acquired, Capt. John P. Carter, Co H commander, paused, then said, "Well ..."then the major sitting in the room cut in, "Go ahead, tell him you stole the damn thing!".

"That's not true, "Carter replied. "We signed for it. It's all legal."

Pellettera, from San Diego, Calf., credits Carter with furnishing the moral and "rank "support which allowed the men to use a bay in the motor pool during the evenings and on weekends to work on the HAWG.

"He really stuck to his guns and saw this through," Pellettera said, with Couch agreeing.

   
  View towards the Dining Facility in the Spring.  

Finding parts, including essential engine parts, necessitated journeying to shell - pocked training ranges in search of usable parts from shot - up WWII half-tracks. What the soldiers couldn't find, they fashioned in true GI ' jerry rig' tradition.

The HAWG was not always the HAWG; when doubts were being voiced about its future it was called "Carter's Folly," or so say Couch and Pellettera.

But now the rig "runs like a charm," according to Pellettera, who claims he agreed to work on the half track after he extracted a promise of a "case of beer" from Carter.

Carter believes the official designation for the vehicle is an M3A1 half-track, although he says the last number could easily be a 2 or 3.

A letter was sent to the French government, Carter said, citing the numbers on the vehicle and asking for its history, but no answer has been received. The captain said they are still consulting information sources to determine the correct identification for the vehicle.

Whatever name or number the two wheeled, two tracked, armored personnel carrier had in its past, it is now known as the HAWG. Designed for combat, probably the only combat it will see now will be the arguments over who has the privilege of driving and caring for it.

When I arrived in H Co in the Spring of 78, the troopers associated with the HAWG had left the squadron. It sat on a concrete pad on the parade field first, near the H Co barracks, then later, moved closer to Squadron HQ, still sporting a gloss black finish with yellow HAWG motif. Somewhere along the line, the Regimental Blackhorse had also been added. One Summer afternoon in 78, a few H Co mechanics took a stab at reviving the beast with no luck. When SGTs Couch and Pellettera left, they took the secrets with them. But there's always a mechanic and always a dream ...

The HAWG next appears in the Change of Command photo collection sent by Col ( Ret) BB Clark. Moving under its own power, Daley's own heritage vehicle cruises the hardstand as part of the ceremony in the mid 1980s. A wonderful touch, probably only the Regimental Commanding Officer and the Sergeant Major dated back to when the track was an actual part of the armored cavalry platoon.

A year or two later, in a photo from Todd Stach dated 1986, the HAWG had moved closer to the cav Dining Facility and once again is OD green. We do not know if it ever functioned again but, the old HAWG certainly had a charmed life. It cheated the cutter's torch one final time as Daley Barracks was closed.

   
  In 1982, Doug Barrett of B Company 10th Engineers (Combat), captures this image of the HAWG, in fresh paint and with the captioned battle history of the Blackhorse Regiment stenciled on the side, after it had been moved from the parade field.  The HAWG  is immediately in front of the 2/11 ACR Mess Hall.  Squadron Headquarters is visible in the background.  

Picked up in the inventory of Heritage Vehicles as found in 7th Army posts in Germany, as the barracks area was being processed for return to German civil control, the HAWG was moved by the Army and found a new home at Hohenfels Training Area as a static display. Rescued from a range lot years earlier, spirited off to Daley to take at least a few more laps, and then returned to Hohenfels and honored with a concrete pad to call its own, certainly a better fate than down range for LAW sub caliber training.

We note, the Army is planning a fresh round of installation closings in Germany. If HTA is on that list, we feel certain that the HAWG will be rolled up on a flat bed and hauled to yet another new home. Too bad they just don't try fresh batteries and a little PM ... it would probably start right up.

 
 


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