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1944 Man of the Year Bronze Star / Purple Heart


Jim Baker

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In 1944 The Stars and Stripes newspaper selected "GI Joe" as the Man of the Year. That was when the trouble began.

 

They sifted through hundreds of photos and selected one of the GI they felt "mirrored the guts and misery of thousands of frontline soldiers". The GI was intentionally left unnamed as he was to represent all GI Joes. Enter the famous photo of Sgt John Parks. Sgt Parks photo has been in many books and publications throughout the years and will be easily recognizable to most of us here. His photo was altered slightly when stars and stripes put an infantryman's helmet on him in place of his tanker helmet. That was the first SNAFU. Then the public naturally wanted to know who was this man. What was his name and what did he do? Now comes the second SNAFU. Parks photo was ID'd as Sgt Hobart Drew, a member of the 37th Tank Battalion.

 

The 37th Tank Battalion was famous for it's many exploits and battle record. It was at the time commanded by Creighton Abrams, and B Co. was under the command of Jimmie Leach. Both Drew and Parks were members of B Co. Unfortunately, just weeks after the story had all come out, Sgt Parks was killed in action.

 

The result of all this was that, "GI Joe by any moniker is the man".

 

Below are our "Men of the Year for 1944. On the left is Sgt John Parks in his now famous photo. On the right is Sgt Hobart Drew.

 

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The Stars and Stripes (London Edition) for February 14, 1945, attempting to explain the SNAFU (or two).

 

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Now enter the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. These small sets with a history really trip my trigger. I found these on another site left unwanted in the for sale section. Just based on the limited information the seller had posted, I was surprised these had not been scooped up.

 

These are the medals of Sgt Hobart Drew. The fact that he was a tanker and his combat record alone made them attractive to me. I would have thought the "Man of the Year" history would have made them desirable to many others. In any case, I am pretty excited to now own the two medals.

 

The Purple Heart is unnamed as expected. He was eventually wounded three times. The Bronze Star is named. Both medals show age and appear to have been worn. The PH was quite dirty. I managed to take a cotton cloth and clean it up some after these photos. The cases for all intents and purposes are pretty much trashed. I will probably display the medals in a Riker case with his photo. I would also like to find an original copy of The Stars and Stripes newspaper I posted earlier. (Anyone out there have one?)

 

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The cases. Unfortunately, they are in even rougher condition than they appear in the photos.

 

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A final photo and his headstone. Sgt Drew died in 1980 and is buried in Florida.

 

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Great legwork Jim!!! It sure looks to me like these medals went to just the right person. :thumbsup:

 

MW

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That's pretty cool! I love groups with history like that! You should be happy I never saw them! :lol: :thumbsup:

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Jim,

That is a fantastic story to go along with the group., a real piece of history to be proud of.

As Dave said....."I love groups with history" !

 

This thread deserves attention!! :thumbsup:

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Jim, that's a really nice grouping you got there.

And what a story to go with it!

 

Some additional information;

Sgt. Drew was the driver of "Blockbuster III" (Command Tank, B Company, 37th Tank Bn).

And that photo of Sgt. Parks was taken on Decmber 10, 1944.

It appears in many books on armored warfare in WWII (one being "US Army Tank Crewman 1941 - 45" by Steven Zaloga).

 

Checked my collection, but I don't have that Stars & Stripes.

I would have sent it to you for free if I had.

But I'll keep my eyes open for you.

 

Erwin

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Thanks guys. It's a fun bit of history. Both Drew and Parks photographs pop up in publications across the years.

 

Erwin,

 

I knew you would especially enjoy this. The 37th has a great history. It seems most histories of the 4th AD are dominated by the actions of the 37th.

 

I hope to locate an original copy of that Stars and Stripes. I already have a lead on the issue announcing the death of Parks.

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Wow Congrats there Jim :thumbsup:

That sure is one Outstanding Grouping you have got there

with a lot of History Attached to that Man of the year 1944 an Well Done its in a good Home now where its safe.

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Wow Congrats there Jim :thumbsup:

That sure is one Outstanding Grouping you have got there

with a lot of History Attached to that Man of the year 1944 an Well Done its in a good Home now where its safe.

 

Thank you Sir. I always do a folder on all the guys I have ID'd militaria from. I think with this one I will include some information for Sgt Parks.

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Thank you Sir. I always do a folder on all the guys I have ID'd militaria from. I think with this one I will include some information for Sgt Parks.

 

Hi Jim,

Thats the best way to keep all of the Information Together on your Soldier's Groupings

I have being doing the Exact Same Thing with IDentified Uniform Groupings for the Last

Few Years at least that way it's all Together when you want the info :thumbsup: .

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  • 3 weeks later...

Many thanks to Sean (Wolfhounds) for finding me a clean cover page for the Stars and Stripes issue discussing Drew and Parks. When I received the medals the copy of the cover sheet I received had gotten wet and smeared. I don't think you can read this one due to size limitations, but the saved copy I now have is legible and looks nice in the folder.

 

Thanks again Sean!! :thumbsup:

 

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  • 1 month later...

And to round out the group, I picked up an original and complete copy of the Stars and Stripes that tells the story.

 

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CNY Militaria

Fantastic grouping! This one definitely screams history :) I am glad you are now the caretaker of this fine lot. :thumbsup:

 

Justin

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  • 1 year later...

Jim, that's a really nice grouping you got there.

And what a story to go with it!

 

Some additional information;

Sgt. Drew was the driver of "Blockbuster III" (Command Tank, B Company, 37th Tank Bn).

And that photo of Sgt. Parks was taken on Decmber 10, 1944.

It appears in many books on armored warfare in WWII (one being "US Army Tank Crewman 1941 - 45" by Steven Zaloga).

 

Checked my collection, but I don't have that Stars & Stripes.

I would have sent it to you for free if I had.

But I'll keep my eyes open for you.

 

Erwin

 

Erwin,

 

At the time he was wounded (in the photo in Stars and Stripes) he was the driver for Jimmie Leach. The 37th Tank Battalion has a fantastic history.

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