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November 2017
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US Army

Tiger Patrol

 Tiger Patrol
 
A Matter of Perception – Towards the end of January 1945, I was the leader of the Tiger Patrol of the 3rd Battalion of the 346th Regiment, 87th Division.  A tiger Patrol was made up of a Lieutenant and 15 infantrymen selected from the three Rifles Companies of a Battalion.  The members were “volunteers” (“You have just volunteered!”)  The Tiger Patrol was established to provide a select unit to be responsible for all patrolling for the Battalion. 
 
Our Patrol was completely equipped for its mission, including our own transportation, thanks to a number of selective midnight requisition patrols behind our own lines.  To avoid being used for purposes other than our primary mission, we arranged our own accommodations, well removed from the Battalion C.P., and generally unknown to them.  We keep in contact by checking in on a schedule selected by us.  And it worked. 
 
One evening we were comfortably settled in a small hut located in a wooded area, and for us, a well camouflaged spot, about 50 yards off a road.  We had received mail that day, which included a supply of cigars for one of our senior members.  After supper I was offered a cigar.  I think it was the first (of many) I had ever smoked.  Feeling somewhat benevolent, I decided to pay a call at the Battalion C.P. to see how the war was progressing.  Unfortunately, it was pitch black outside, so it was difficult to find the road.  As I reached the road I tripped – my helmet and liner went one direction, I another.  After a diligent search to no avail, I stepped up on the road, in a frame of mind that hardly needs description.  As I started down the road puffing on my cigar, a group of GI’s came up the road.  They were replacements headed for front line positions.  One of them recognized me, called out and we had a brief chat. 
 
I then continued on my way.  Several months later, after the war was over in Europe, I passed an M.P. post.  A soldier called out and asked me if I remembered the night we met on the road in the Ardennes.  He then told me he was one of the replacements I encountered on that ill-fated evening.  He said, “I’ll never forget that evening.  I was scared stiff about returning to combat after being hospitalized for wounds.  Then I saw you casually walking down the road with no helmet and smoking a cigar, so I knew it couldn’t be too bad.” 
 
Combat was hell, but sometimes it was more hellish than others.
 
Source: The Bulge Bugle June 1990
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
By Lt William F. O'DONNELL

 

3rd Battalion

 

"I" Company

 

346th Infantry Regiment

 

87th Infantry Division

 

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium