NPR

95-Year-Old WWII Veteran Gets Surprise Visit From An 'Old Friend': A Sherman Tank

World War II tank gunner Clarence Smoyer poses for a portrait near the Charlestown Naval Shipyard in Boston, Feb. 20, 2019. The 95-year-old veteran was surprised with a ride through the streets of Boston in a Sherman tank, one of the tanks most widely used by the U.S. during the war. (Charles Krupa/AP)

The last time Clarence Smoyer rode in a Sherman tank, he was a 21-year-old corporal in the U.S. Army.

That was in 1945. But in Boston this week, the now-95-year-old Pennsylvania native got a huge surprise: The author of a new book about Smoyer’s exploits as a tank gunner in World War II arranged to have a real Sherman tank carry him to a local book signing.

“An old friend,” Smoyer said before he climbed onto the tank with the help of a cane. “That tank saved my life. We went through many battles with a tank like that. It saved me.”

Watch on YouTube.

Adam Makos, an author of books about military history — including one about , a Navy pilot from Fall River, Massachusetts — tells Smoyer’s story in his new book “.” He had gotten a tip that Smoyer was

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR2 min read
Ensemble Signal Plays Jonny Greenwood: Tiny Desk Concert
Watch members of the New York-based group give the world premiere video performances of two recent pieces by Radiohead guitarist and composer Jonny Greenwood.
NPR2 min read
Robert Smith Pledges To Pay Off Student Loans For Morehouse College's Class Of 2019
The billionaire founder of investment firm Vista Equity Partners made the surprise announcement in front of roughly 400 students while delivering the college's commencement address on Sunday.
NPR10 min read
'Game Of Thrones' Finale, Season 8, Episode 6: 'No One Is Very Happy'
After eight seasons, 73 episodes and a whole lot of characters saying "bend the knee" all the time, HBO's massive fantasy series is finally over.