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US Army

661st Tank Destroyer Battalion & S/Sgt James N. BINDER

 

661st Tank Destroyer Battalion

and S/Sgt James N. Binder

James Binder was inducted into the US Army from Walnutport, PA on April 17th, 1943 at 18.  His four brothers, and even his sister-in -law, also served in the military during WWII, and all returned home safely. 
 
James trained to be a combat medic and medical records clerk.  He was attached to the 661st Tank Destroyer Battalion, part of the 69th Infantry Division, where he eventually rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant.  Jim and his unit of aid men took care of 780 men while overseas. 
 
He and over 5,000 other men boarded a ship for a long 23 day trip to Europe, avoiding German U boats all the way across the Atlantic.  The 661st Tank Destroyer Battalion began its tour of duty in Le Havre, France.  While in Le Havre, his battalion came across a pack of wild rabbits.  Some of the men in his unit picked up one of the rabbits and placed it on their tank destroyer.  It became their unit pet and stayed with the men across Europe and through all the combat.  They even named the furry pet “Uncle Buck.” ( When the unit was to return back to the States, Uncle Buck was returned home, too—back to the fields of France.)
 
After two weeks of training on the coast of Normandy, the unit began a march of over 350 miles through rain and driving snow.  After relieving the men of the 99th Infantry Division in the Battle of the Bulge, they continued on into the town of Bulligen, Belgium.  His unit fought through the town of Bulligen, and advanced up to and through the Siegfried Line and into Germany, crossing the Rhine River on March 27th, 1945.  They were one of the first units to cross the famous Remagen Bridge on that date.
 
The Battalion as a whole fought its most intense engagement on April 17th, 1945 in the city of Leipzig, well known for its resistance during the battles of the Napoleonic wars in the eighteenth century.  They played a crucial role in the surrender of the City Hall, the railroad terminal and the Battle of the Nations Monument.  This is where the unit was to see their last fighting of the war.
 
James and his unit also were recognized as the first Allied unit to meet up with the Russian 58th Guard of the Soviet Army at the Elbe River in Torgau, Germany on April 25th, 1945.  This linkup commonly referred to as the day when “East meets West.” 
 
As of April 25th, 1945, the Battalion had taken 727 prisoners, destroyed or neutralized over 120 pieces of artillery, and numerous machine gun nests.  By the time the war was over, the 661st had marched across the countries of Western Europe for over 1,200 miles. 
 
As of April 25th, 1945, the Battalion had taken 727 prisoners, destroyed or neutralized over 120 pieces of artillery, and numerous machine gun nests.  By the time the war was over, the 661st had marched across the countries of Western Europe for over 1,200 miles. 
 
Source: The Bulge Bugle Newsletter November 2017
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Submited by Stephen SAVAGE

BOBA Member

S/Sgt James N. BINDER 

661st Tank Destroyer Bn

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium