This summer in Boston, a group of men who live far apart, are of different ages and backgrounds, and, though mostly retired now, have had different jobs will meet as old friends. Almost half a century ago, these men shared the dangers of World War II as members of the 6th Armored Division of the 3rd Army. And Joe Fallon of Hawthorne Street in Rutherford was one of them. "We don't talk much about the war at the conventions," said Fallon, 79. "We show pictures of grandchildren, talk about what we are doing now, that kind of thing." There will be a candlelight ceremony for those veterans who died since the last convention. The intervening years are killing the members of the division, once 11,000 strong, more assuredly than the Germans did, Fallon said. Between conventions, the veterans can keep track of each other in editions of the "Super Sixer," a quarterly newsletter that Fallon helps write. His column provides updates on the men who served in the division's combat command in which he was sergeant "The idea for the newsletter came from Ed Downs, who was a colonel in the 6th," he said. "I try to write about what is happening with the fellows now." This year marks a number of anniversaries for the 6th armored. It is 45 years ago that Fallon and his comrades landed on French soil as liberators. Shortly thereafter, under the command of Gen. George S. Pattern, the 3rd Army began what even today is one of the most remarkable records of military combat' Fallon, working m the supply section of the 6th armored combat headquarters had a bird's-eye view of the action.
He still has the combat map showing the division's progress from the French coast to the heart of Germany. "I remember when we got to Scotland in February 1943, there was so much armor around every-body wondered why the British Isles didn't sink," he said. The 6tharmored rolled onto Utah beach in Normandy at the end of June. It was there that Fallon got his first taste of war. "I can still remember the first dead guy I saw. He was a German laying there all burnt and black. It kind of shook me up, but you get used to ft after awhile. You can get used to anything after awhile." At the head of 3rd Army, later to be nicknamed "Lucky Forward," the 6th armored participated in almost every major battle in the drive across France to Germany. Combat command was always near the fighting, and Fallon, though never injured himself, lost friends. "Oh, we were always being shelled. The Germans, they didn't give in too easily. I remember one buddy of mine got hit in the shoulder, and I went to get help. The medics took him away, and I never saw him again. I found out later he died on the way to the hospital," said Fallon. Trying to keep material flowing was not an easy job in a division that would often outrun its own supply lines, Fallon said He had high praise for the men who drove the supply trucks from the rear to front-line units like the 6th. "They had the Red Ball express, you see. They were the drivers, and they were mostly black soldiers. They had a lot of guts, those guys; they would drive through anything."
The 6th armored pushed ahead sometimes moving 50 . miles a day and often capturing thousands of prisoners. How to manage many POWs without slowing down the advance into Germany was a problem that at least one officer solved in a unique way, Fallon said. "This officer, he called over the German officer who had just surrendered, and he says to him, 'Now look, call out all your men together.' And when he got them all together he said to the German officer, 'Now look, you take your men and march down this road back to this town, and you surrender there.' "And you know they did? Off they went without an American soldier to guard them or anything. I guess they were just tired of fighting," Fallon said. He is proud of the time he spent as a soldier, but does not attach any glory to war. "Oh, I think General Eisenhower was right when he says anybody who has been in the front line fighting knows what a scourge war is," said Fallon. "For both sides."
Hackensack, New Jersey
12 Apr 1989, Wed • Page 66
By David Goldman Correspondent