World War II Veteran speaks to Lincoln-Way East History ClassesTuesday, March 14, 2017
On Wednesday, March 8, 2017, Bob Babcock, a World War II tank driver during the Battle of the Bulge, spoke to Lincoln-Way East students in their U.S. History class. The 95-year-old veteran is an uncle to Lincoln-Way East teacher, Paul Babcock.
“I love to have him because 1,200 World War II vets are dying every day,” says the teacher. “There’s no telling how much longer we will have this ‘living history.’”
Bob Babcock, originally from a farm family in Wisconsin, was working in the field when the bombing of Pearl Harbor took place in 1941. He knew right away that his life would change. Babcock stated that father was proud that he didn’t want a farm deferment, which would have exempt his son from going to war.
He was stationed in England as a tank driver in the 11th Armored Division in the Army. Because he was “on KP,” or kitchen patrol, Babcock missed tank-driving training. Having grown up on a farm, he was forced to figure out how to drive the tank “on the spot” on a night training run. After rear-ending the tank in front him and worrying he would have to pay for the repair, Babcock jumped out of his tank to inspect the damage. He immediately realized he needed to “get right back in because the unit wasn’t stopping” or he would’ve been lost. Eventually, his self-taught tank-driving paid off.
Babcock shared many stories from his service, including how he and fellow soldiers liberated Mauthausen Concentration Camp. He ended the presentation by emphasizing the value of a hard work ethic. “You can always find a job if you’re willing to work,” he said.