— MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Charles Pollack Sr. was in a tank outfit in the Alabama National Guard when his unit was mobilized in 1950, but no one in the company had ever seen a tank.
In high school he joined the 31st Infantry Division, the famed Dixie Division, so named because most of its members were from Alabama and Mississippi. There, he was assigned to the 200th Tank Company. When the Guard unit was mobilized, the company was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division, 89th Tank Battalion.
"We were a tank unit, but we never saw a tank until we got to Ft. Jackson (S.C.) for training," he said with a laugh. There, the unit was given its M-4 Sherman tanks, retreads from World War II. "When we got to Korea, we were a replacement company. We went all over the country, wherever we were needed."
He was in Korea for nine months from 1951 until 1952. He and other veterans are marking the 63rd Anniversary of North Korea's invasion of South Korea.
The tanks went on patrol with infantry units to act as support. Other times they were in defensive positions, using the Sherman's 76 mm main gun as artillery, firing into enemy positions. He faced North Korean and Chinese soldiers, though he never had tank-to-tank action with the enemy.
"We were thankful for that," he said. "The snipers and mortars were bad enough. When they would mortar our position, the shrapnel would bounce off the tanks. It sounded like somebody was beating the tank with a ball-peen hammer."
He became platoon sergeant of C Company, replacing the sergeant who was killed by a sniper. The tanks in the platoon were all named after American cities beginning with the letter C.