|Sergeant Warren G.H. Crecy|
Gather 'round and I'll tell you about another Black Captain America.
Last week we looked at Black World War II hero First Lieutenant Vernon J. Baker of the Army's Buffalo Soldiers Infantry who lead a squadron through what was basically a World 8 of mines, machine guns, mortar, and barbed wire, blew up a couple of Nazis, and lead an assault on a fortress in a very Captain America fashion—if Captain America didn't have a non-kill rule...or as I call it a “no intentionally killing” rule.
Now we're looking at a personal favorite of mine to research. A man who brought chaos and doom to the enemy and became known as “The Baddest Man of the 761st—Sergeant Warren G.H. Crecy.
The thing about researching Crecy is that pretty much nothing is written about his life prior to World War II except that he enlisted months before Pearl Harbor happened and was one of the earliest members of the experimental 761st Tank Battalion also known as The Black Panthers.
The battalion was formed in the spring of 1942 after General Lesley J. McNair pushed that Black troops could be effective for combat. Training for the Black Panthers happened mostly in at Camp Claiborne in Louisiana with advanced training and tank upgrades happening at Fort Hood, TX over the course of two years. This was a battalion with a roster of guys who didn't take shit.
Remember this was the 1940s and the south was a hard 13 on a 1-10 scale for racism. On base, soldiers were subjected to physical violence which resulted in the Army losing soldiers. Some 761st ended up taking over several tanks in retaliation but were eventually talked out of putting shells into comrades by Lt. Colonel Paul Bates.
While this story is about Sergeant Crecy, the most famous member to come through the Black Panthers was baseball hall of famer Jackie Robinson. He would leave the battalion during training after refusing to go to the back of a bus. Bates refused to court martial Robinson and he was moved to another tank battalion and taken to military court.
The Black Panthers were given a high mark and the green light for field combat. After hitting England, the battalion would arrive in France in late 1944.
Crecy was often said to be a level-headed guy. As a matter of fact, the 761st's historian Trezzvant Anderson said that he was quiet, well-liked, and polite—but all of that goes out the window when Nazis show up spoiling for a fight.
On one occasion the following month, allies fell into a German ambush. Sgt. Crecy got to his tank and sped into German territory greeting them with shells. He was greeted with a rocket to his tank only for him to climb out the burning wreck, get into a jeep, and mow down Nazis with his .30-caliber machine gun—starting with the raketenmann who blew up his tank. He would go on to finish off artillery spotters and help his allies get to safety.
This was a couple of weeks after landing in Europe.
Black Panther Berserker
After hearing about his performance, the Black Panthers got Crecy another tank. Once he's back in action, his tank's treads got stuck in the mud as fire is coming in. He climbs out again, facing enemy fire and tries to free his tank.
Noticing comrades are pinned down by German firepower, he stops what he's doing, gets to the machine gun on top of the tank with no actual protection and takes out the Germans that are moving in on their spot, also took out machine nests, and another team showing up with their damn tank-wrecking rockets. The 761st's historian said that Sgt. Crecy was so angry and saw so much red, allies had to pull him away from the machine gun.
By the end of World War II, Crecy got a Silver Star, four Purple Hearts, and a Bronze Star. He was nominated for a Medal of Honor, but as mentioned in the first installment of our Black Captain America series—go read it, Lt. Baker should have a comic book series or TV show as well—the U.S didn't get around to looking at Black soldiers who been awarded the Medal of Honor until the early 1990s.
At that time only Lt. Baker was alive receive one. The Black Panther's historian marked him with 300-400 kills and called him “the baddest man in the 761st.” The battalion overall received many awards for its service and effectiveness but lost 36 men.
Crecy would go on to be a prison guard at Nuremberg to watch over several war criminals who would go on trial in late 1945. He returned to the U.S in 1950—apparently to parts unknown because there's still not much about him online outside of his military career—to a country that was still as racist as when he left.
He would ship back out some time later to enter the Korean War but returned in October 1952 after being injured by mortar and spent time in military hospitals. Sgt. Warren G.H. Crecy would pass away in 1976.
I'll leave you with this from Trezzvant Anderson about Sgt. Crecy:
To look at Warren G.H. Crecy (the G.H. stands for Gamaliel Harding) you'd never think that here was a 'killer,' who had slain more of the enemy than any man in the 761st. He extracted a toll of lives from the enemy that would have formed the composition of 3 or 4 companies, with his machine guns alone. And yet, he is such a quiet, easy-going, meek-looking fellow, that you'd think that the fuzz which a youngster tries to cultivate for a mustache would never grow on his baby-skinned chin.
And that he'd never use a word stronger than 'damn.' But here was a youth who went so primitively savage on the battlefield that his only thought was to 'kill, kill, kill,' and he poured his rain of death pellets into German bodies with so much reckless abandon and joy that he was the nemesis of all the foes of the 761st. And other men craved to ride with Crecy and share the reckless thrill of killing the hated enemy that had killed their comrades. And he is now living on borrowed time. By all human equations Warren G.H. Crecy should have been dead long ago, and should have had the Congressional Medal of Honor, at least!