My father, Sgt. Noble C. May, " Butch" was a tank and truck mechanic in the 3rd Armored Division in World War II. No, he was not classed as a combat soldier because he was not an infantryman, a tanker or an artilleryman, but he was awarded the Silver Star medal which is given only for outstanding bravery. He was definately in harms way. With his weapon, a Thompson machine gun, he joined with the combat infantrymen, artillerymen and tankers where he fought side by side with truck drivers, mechanics, cooks and wounded to stop the German offensive, the Battle of the Bulge, which had swept through our lines.
Anyone who could handle a gun had to join in to stop the German's unexpected counter offensive. He seldom talked of the most horrible part of his duties which was going out to retrieve diabled tanks which often contained body parts. He very rarely spoke of having to remove those parts before he could do his work. My mother spoke of how the war changed him and that I can easily understand. His duty as a mechanic involved working on tanks while they were under fire.
He told me that he was in 2 tanks when they were hit by enemy artillery. Such work as that may have, in a specific instance, earned him the Silver Star. He never talked about what earned him the medal. It must have been too painful to think of it. In addition to the Silver Star, he was awarded 5 bronze battle stars for serving in the 5 different battle zones covered by the 3rd Armored. He asked not to be put in for a Purple Heart because the bullet only burned a path across his skin. He did not talk much of his service, but I feel that he served his country well and am very proud of him. He has passed on now.
Noble C. May Jr.