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Sergeant Otie Taylor Cook

C Company

745th Tank Battalion

Attached to: 1st Infantry Division

Info

Otie

Sergeant Otie T. Cook
Serialnumber: 20380230
C Company, 745th Tank Battalion
1st Infantry Division

Home: Salisbury, North Carolina
Born: 18 September 1920
DOD: 6 November 2013
Entered service on: 3 February 1941
Awards: -
Memorial: At the Remember Museum 39-45, close to Henri-Chapelle Cemetery, Otie's Sergeant stripes are shown.

Story

Otie Taylor Cook enlisted in February 1941 to the Virginia National Guard, 29th Tank Company. When the USA got involved in WW2, the company transferred into the 745th Tank Battalion. It was an independent Battalion, which was attached to the 1st Infantry Division for D-day and stayed with the 1st until the end of the war.

A part of Otie's HisStory

Battle of the Bulge, in his own words..

I was at the back when the Battle of the Bulge started. What had happened, when the battle started, in fact all of our tanks were in ordinance being repaired. Putting new engines and transmissions and stuff. We didn’t have half a dozen. So when it started, ordinance people drove up whatever they got in. Anything that would run. And we got up in a bunch of 76mm guns on the tanks. Which I might explain. A division has a General. And the general overrides a Colonel, which we had. So when General wanted 76mm guns on them, they could knock out a German tank as were not initiated from the back. But this will shoot a hole as big as a quarter. And that’s all you need. So we got a lot of division tanks that had 76mm guns on them. Nobody had the same tank we had then. Whatever they brought you used. We just sit there and waited and at the end of the first evening, when they did break through, we had 16 German tanks knocked out I believe it was at the end of one day. What we did, we made half a circle facing the enemy. And then covered all with snow and put pines on it and camouflaged it and sit there and waited. See, they had always been waiting on us because we were the ones coming up which gave them the advantage. We sat there still waiting for them and that changed the picture completely. There were always 2 on guard. The other 3 got under the tank trying to get a little rest. Oh, I might explain. Another thing we learned, the safest place to be when you’re expecting to be shelled or get a counter attack, you dig a hole about 3,5 feet wide, a foot deep and about 6 feet long. And you roll out blankets and you slept underneath the tank which was about the safest you could get. A shell would explode, and the particles would go up. But we were down level with the ground. So usually we do that and 3 men would get down under and get a little sleep and rest while the other 2 were on the gun. The only thing about our tank that was good was the engine in it. They were airplane engines. They would run until it just had 2 or 3 cylinders. But the disadvantage was they used gasoline. And every time one of our tanks got hit in the side. Our tanks had 80 gallons on each side, so 160 gallons. And that was a big explosion 9 times out of 10. That was nerve-racking too to see it happen. But the German tank was diesel. And when you put a hole in it, quite often it wouldn’t explode. It might kill some men, but it wouldn’t explode. And the 88mm gun they had was the best gun in the whole war. They fooled the British to begin with. They thought it was an anti-aircraft gun. It had a long barrel. So when they tried to make a big break through, the Germans just lowered the gun and shot level..

We saw the tanks coming the next morning. I was inside the tank. You could hear all those tanks coming. Gunfire. And you could see them because we were covered with snow back in the woods, and they had to come out of the woods and come out into the open. It took them little time to find out we were there. I guess they were half a mile, maybe a quarter away, when they started firing. I think we lost 6 tanks and 4 of them were repairable. We just held that as long as we could. You just planned to hit them and when you had to get out, you just got out. But it was not to long, I know that. After the fighting started. They knocked some holes in our lines so the best thing we could do is retreat, get back in some woods and regroup. That was one of the few times we got to fight as a group. Because usually 5 tanks was a platoon and you were assigned a 100 infantry men. So you and that 100 infantry men worked together. When you loose 4 tanks you were by yourself. That’s it. But with the division and larger groups, they could lose 25 or 30 of them and that wouldn’t have made that big of a gap in their lines. They still could carry on and fight. You see, the Germans were fighting the Russians. And the Russian came out with the T-32, which was a match with the German tank. So the Germans came back with an even better tank. And then the Russians improved their tank. And there we were, we had the same one we started with. And the 88 would shoot through both sides of it. I thought how amusing it would be to get one. I learned recently in a magazine that the only reason we didn’t get a better tank is because they couldn’t decide what to build, what they wanted. Did they want a big tank, a light tank? So we just had the same tank. And I thought a number of times how wonderful it would be if I just could have that group of two tanks sitting in front of me. And let them meet those boys head on. And then we would have some tanks to survive.

Otie But being in a tank about all you know is what you see in front of you and what’s inside of the tank. But from observations, TV and movies and books, I read a 100 of them I guess. Our commanding generals they had decided the German army was about to had it. It was winter and that was the roughest section to get through and because of the snow. They said that the Germans won’t come through there. So they just had a little thin line and everybody else was back having Christmas diners and pulled back of the line and that type of things. It was only a few people there. So the Germans surprised them and came through with their tanks and artillery. They rushed through until they reached a place called Malmedy.

On one occasion. At the Battle of the Bulge, on Christmas day the first sergeant was decorating a Christmas tree in a two story house a Christmas tree. A couple of drivers brought the trucks up and parked them across the street next to a building. I was talking to one and he walked of and about that time that’s when all the planes came over. It must have been 75 or 100 of them. Some up just little spicks, others 300 feet of the ground. I saw that 50 calibre machinegun on the truck that had a round turret there. I zipped the cover of. I saw one plane coming and there was a cloud here and a open space there and then a cloud again. But he crossed that open space. He just came out of that first cloud. And I gave him a whole box of 50 calibre machinegun bullets. So halfway he had turned in the cloud and the British officer that was tracing came straight on through. But shortly after I ran out of ammunition and aircraft outfit picked him up and they had 4 50 calibre machineguns mounted. And they went working on him and they cleaned the thing up pretty quick. We had order to shoot on planes until they shoot at us. Our service company had shot 3 or 4 British planes and hadn’t shot a German plane yet. They were fond on that. I wasn’t supposed to do that but I had been strafed at, not to far in from the beach, by a German plane, and I said if I ever got a chance I am going to work on one of those things. I felt like that was my opportunity. I tried to call to headquarters to say we was upstairs decorating, this Jeep went up right quick in front of us and stopped and this long fellow went out and went in. Two or three minutes later he came out and our Captain came over and said: “Cook, was you doing all that shooting?” I said: “Well, I started it.” And he said: “You know who that was don’t you?” I said: “It could have been a Major.” He said: “That’s exactly what he was! And he wanted to know who that was doing all that shooting when there was told not to shoot.” Well, I thought that was real funny. I gave him a whole box. They brought a British.. I believe he was a major. Of course, when the plane starts to go down, 2 or 3 Jeeps take of after him because if it was a German fighter pilot, they want his boots and jacket and that type of things. But when they brought him in it was this British Major. And the Captain told me later that he was really upset. He said that these bloody Yanks shoot at anything coming over. Jolly good shooting! They shot him right out of the air. Every once in a while something funny happened. And that changes kind of your whole perspective.

A bad feature was when it snowed especially during the Battle of the Bulge. The infantry going out, they got shot and fall. And they wouldn’t be 5 minutes until you couldn’t see them hardly. Most of the other guys with them would stick the rifle down the ground and put a helmet on top. Of course you wouldn’t see them man, but you would see that. They would know there was a man under there, but some didn’t come out in the spring to tell you the truth. They didn’t find them. It was spring. Of course they froze solid. It’s strange.. they froze solid and someone didn’t find him.

Otie passed away on November 6th, 2013 at age 93. This hero has a special place in our hearts and he will never be forgotten.

Obituary for Mr Otie Taylor "O.T." Cook Jr Otie

Mr. Otie Taylor “O.T.” Cook, Jr., age 93 , of Salisbury passed away November 6 at Glenn A. Kiser Hospice House. Mr. Cook was born September 18, 1920 in Danville, VA the son of the late Mary Lee Davis Cook and Otie Taylor Cook, Sr. He attended Robert E. Lee Junior High, George Washington High School and the University of Kentucky where he received an Associate Degree in Engineering. O.T. was an Electrical Installer for Long Communications which he helped start with Matt Long and Kip Hale. Mr. Cook was a Veteran of the US Army and a D-Day Veteran. Preceding him in death was his wife Sarah Pauline Yarbrough Cook on November 9, 1989. Those left to cherish his memories are his son Ed Cook (Rhonda) of Salisbury; daughter Carol Eppler of Jacksonville, FL; grandchildren Rebecca Eppler, Christy Cook and Cheree McDaniels (Mark); great-grandchildren Sarah, Bekkah and Madison JoAnn McDaniels.

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