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Good Instincts

June 2024
1min read

After the invasion of Sicily in World War II, my infantry company was ordered to clear one of the secondary roads to Palermo. By late in the afternoon we were about ten miles from Palermo when our advance people were fired on by an Italian machine gun along the mountainous road. We had no armor to quiet the gun, so we called back for an armored car or a light tank. Before too long we heard a vehicle approaching, but we knew from the sound that this wasn’t the armor we requested. When it rounded the corner behind us, I saw it was a military sedan with the top down and somebody standing up in back.

Being at the head of the column and sitting down (like all the men), I rose as I saw the car. It rolled to a stop by me, and the occupant asked why the delay. I explained about the Italian machine gun and our request for armor. “Ah, there ain’t no damn machine gun up there,” he said. “If you’d get off your ass and get moving, you’d be in Palermo by nightfall.” With that he told his driver to go ahead, and I began wondering what we’d do with a dead general. But the machine gun had moved out, and Gen. George S. Patton was right. We did get to Palermo that night.

—Woodrow A. Schlegel is a real estate broker in Carrizozo, New Mexico.

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