190918-A- SE781-021_Arrival Salute
1 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Former U.S. Army Cpl. Clarence Smoyer, returns a salute while walking towards the National WWII Memorial to receive the Bronze Star Medal, Washington, D.C., September 18, 2019. On March 6, 1945, Smoyer, gunner of a five-man tank crew, stopped a Germa... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
190918-A- SE781-050_Help Up
2 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Maj. Peter Semanoff, 1st Cavalry Division, assists former Cpl. Clarence Smoyer at the National WWII Memorial prior to Smoyer receiving the Bronze Star Medal, Washington, D.C., September 18, 2019. On March 6, 1945, Smoyer, gunner of a five-m... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
190918-A- SE781-055_BSM Pinning
3 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Former U.S. Army Corporal and WWII veteran, Clarence Smoyer, receives the Bronze Star from Maj. Peter Semanoff, 1st Cavalry Division, at the National WWII Memorial, Washington, D.C., September 18, 2019. On March 6, 1945, Smoyer, gunner of a five-man ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
190918-A- SE781-037_Veteran Cap
4 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A WWII Veteran cap, cane and walker remain idle at the National WWII Memorial during Bronze Star Medal award ceremony Washington, D.C., September 18, 2019. Former U.S. Army Cpl. Clarence Smoyer, along with the families of Pvt. Homer Davis, Pfc. John ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
190918-A- SE781-029_Color Guard
5 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers from The U.S. Army Color Guard, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment, present the Colors at the National WWII Memorial prior to a Bronze Star Medal award ceremony Washington, D.C., September 18, 2019. Former U.S. Army Cpl. Clarence Smoyer, along with t... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
190918-A- SE781-070_Reenactors
6 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – WWII reenactors pose for display on a Sherman tank near the National WWII Memorial following a Bronze Star Medal ceremony, Washington, D.C., September 18, 2019. Former U.S. Army Cpl. Clarence Smoyer, along with the families of Pvt. Homer Davis, Pfc. ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
190918-A- SE781-088_Smoyer Author Book Signing
7 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Former U.S. Army Corporal and WWII Veteran, Clarence Smoyer, poses for a shot in front of Adam Makos (far right), author of the book "Spearhead" near the National WWII Memorial, Washington, D.C., September 18, 2019. Smoyer, the "Hero of Cologne," was... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
190918-A- SE781-061_Salute
8 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Former U.S. Army Corporal and WWII veteran, Clarence Smoyer, renders a salute at the National WWII Memorial, Washington, D.C., September 18, 2019. Smoyer was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his heroic actions as gunner of a five-man tank crew on Ma... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
190918-A- SE781-079_Park Police
9 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – WWII veterans, Cpl. Clarence Smoyer (second from left) and Sgt. Joe Caserta (third from left), pose with members of the U.S. Park Police in front of a Sherman tank near the National WWII Memorial, Washington, D.C., September 18, 2019. Smoyer was awar... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Eagle 7 Tank Crew
10 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Clarence Smoyer (top middle) was a 21-year-old Pennsylvania native when he, and his fellow tank crew members, were photographed in Cologne, Germany, in 1945. This photo, courtesy of the National Archives, was taken moments after the battle of Cologne... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Smoyer Headshot
11 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LESLEY J. MCNAIR, WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After nearly 75 years, former U.S. Army Corporal and WWII Veteran, Clarence Smoyer, received the Bronze Star Medal at the National WWII Memorial, Washington, D.C., Sept. 18, 2019.

Family, friends, former crewmates, history enthusiasts, and WWII reenactors all gathered to witness the history of a long-awaited award, given to the most-worthy of Soldiers and tank crew.

Pvt. Homer Davis, Pfc. John DeRiggi, and Tech. Cpl. William McVey, all posthumously received the Bronze Star Medal, accepted by their family members.

Adam Makos, author of the book "Spearhead," was the master of ceremonies for the event, retelling the story of Smoyer, the "Hero of Cologne."

It was March 6, 1945, in Cologne, Germany. A German Panther tank had destroyed two American tanks, killing three troops. Over the radio, the five-man Pershing tank crew from Company E, 32nd Armored Regiment, consisting of Smoyer, Davis, DeRiggi, McVey, and Staff Sgt. Robert Earley, the tank's commander, heard their call sign, "Eagle 7," over the radio.

They were riding in an experimental tank, only one of twenty in the European theater at the time, with an elite crew and a 90mm gun. Other men had been ordered against the Panther, but the crew of "Eagle 7" volunteered to attack it themselves.

At the time Army cameraman Tech. Sgt. Jim Bates had been on scene filming and immortalizing the battle for the world to see.

McVey held the throttle steady, Earley spoke over the mic, Smoyer pre-positioned the gun, and Davis was the first to see the Panther. Through the site, Smoyer, staring down the barrel, could see the Panther, muzzle to muzzle. McVey slammed on the back-steering brakes and Smoyer knew he had to hit the Panther. Smoyer called for a new shell and DeRiggi rammed it into the breach.

A total of three shots were expended against the Panther, which was left in ruins. The five-man tank crew had defeated the Nazi tank and the world would come to know it.

Smoyer had been told he was nominated for a Bronze Star Medal and went for a walk. Along the walk, Smoyer was approached by a small group of German children. Searching through his pockets he found some bubble gum to give to the children.

At the time, a military order had been issued; there was to be no fraternizing with the enemy. A nearby Military Police Officer had witnessed the event, recording Smoyer's name, rank and serial number to file a report on Smoyer's infraction.

This infraction led to the rejection of Smoyer's Bronze Star Medal which would become a stain that vanished over time; he made it home alive and that was worth more than any award.

Through diligent research while writing his book, Makos was able to find that both Earley and Bates had previously been awarded the Bronze Star Medal for their efforts during the battle.

Makos discovered that in order for Smoyer to receive the Bronze Star Medal, they would need eyewitness testimonial from that day. He persisted in obtaining all the necessary information to resubmit the award. Makos gathered former Sgt. Joe Caserta, the tank commander who fought behind Smoyer, Sgt. Malcom "Buck" Marsh, Jr., infantryman, and fellow WWII Veteran, Harley Swenson, tank-driver of Company B, to document their stories.

With the help of many, to include Sgt. Maj. Daniel Daily, the 15th Sergeant Major of the Army, and Ryan McCarthy, acting Secretary of the Army, the awards for Smoyer, Davis, DeRiggi, and McVey were submitted and approved.

Unbeknownst to Smoyer, who believed he was headed to the Pentagon for a book signing, he would be recognized for his bravery and heroic actions, receiving the Bronze Star Medal at the age of 96.

Following the ceremony, Smoyer, along with family and friends, all gathered around a Sherman tank, named "Eagle," parked in a field near the National WWII Memorial.

With a combined five Bronze Star Medals, "Eagle 7" is possibly the most decorated tank crew of WWII.

During the event, Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) provided ceremonial support featuring The U.S. Army Color Guard and musical support by The U.S. Army Brass Quintet, The United States Army Band, "Pershing's Own."