BY MORLEY CASSIDY
WITH TH U. S. SIXTH ARMORED DIVISION IN THE SAAR BASIN.
In going up a road here the old proverb would have had to be revised to read: “For want of a cam the tank was lost; for want of a tank the hill was lost."
But with our tanks and tank destroyers hammering aIt the Germans just over the next hill, no tank was out of action Sunday for lack of a cam shaft, and the battle la being won, not lost, and for that we can thank such as Sgt. Jack McKee of Glenside, Pa., and his service platoon of the 128th amd. ordnance, maintenance battalion.
The men of this platoon tell me that McKee deserves all the credit and that they call him “the lnventingst man since Edison."
In the furious tank fighting raging here for the last three weeks severall tanks were put out of action by broken cam shafts, and the cam shaft for an M-4 tank is no small gadget. At one stage the battalion had no spare cam shafts available and our tanka might have been out of the action for weeks except that McKee, a skinny man with a twinkle in his eyes, scratched his head and found a way to keep ‘em rolling.
New Cam Shafts
Sending a crew out to find knocked--out German tanks, McKee had his men pull out the axles and bring them in. McKee then sawed them into pieces of the right length, fastened the cams in place with steel pins and a little welding, and, presto, he had new cam shafts.
So more than one American tank is firing up front this minute running with cam shafts swiped from the nazis.
Another item that turned up short was the idler wheel, used on half-track armored cars.
Finding none available at the moment in this part of France, McKee again scratched his head and found some loose armor plate, cut bands to the right width, and bent to shape and welded, presto, idler wheels.
Once Fixed an Organ.
His prize, tho, is a jeep straightener.,So many jeeps are getting smashed up at the front and they are so important to communications that McKee was worried about the problem for four or five days. What was required, he finally figured, was a straightening frame, and he evolved a machine like the channels of a grease pit.
A jeep’s wheels are placed in the channels and the ends of the jeep's frame are fastened to the channels with chain blocks.
Then jacks are inserted between the channels and the frame is moved along, thus bending the frame of the jeep to the right height at each point. " The job now takes four hours instead of four days as formerly.
McKee is a modest man. “Oh, we got to be ready to care for anything,“ he says, “from scissors to organs.” And he adds with a startled look, “Come to think of it we did fix an organ once that the colonel found, just to see if we could."
source: The Nebraska State Journal, Dec 4, 1944