Local author writes best-selling book about 3rd Armored Division in WWII

BROOMFIELD, Colo. -- A local author has written a best-selling book about the experiences of American soldiers in the 3rd Armored Division in Germany during World War II.

One man featured in Adam Makos' "Spearhead" is Clarence Smoyer. He served as a gunner aboard a Pershing tank in the 3rd Armored Division, also known as "Spearhead."

Smoyer was one of five crew men in the Pershing tank they called Eagle 7.

"We were like a family," Smoyer said.

On March 6, 1945, Eagle 7 was exchanging fire with a German Panther tank in Cologne, Germany. Remarkably, it was caught on film by a U.S. combat photographer.

“We were on the winning side, things were looking good. And so that day, that cameraman decided he was going to follow the biggest tank and the first tank through the city and that tank happened to be Clarence Smoyer's," said Makos.

At one point, a black car can be seen speeding through the city. Both the American and German tanks fired.

"I tried to fire to hit the tires and flatten the tires so it would stop," said Smoyer.

Two people inside the car were killed, including a young woman named Katerina.

Years later, Smoyer saw the footage.

"I hope it wasn’t my shots that killed her," Smoyer said.

Recently, Smoyer met the gunner in the German tank, Gustav Schafer.

"He shook hands with me and I said, 'The war is over, we can be friends now,'" Smoyer said.

The two men embraced and spoke about the black car.

"He said he thought he might have shot her too, or shot the car too. It’s hard to talk about that part," Smoyer said.

Those interested in meeting Smoyer can do so at Union Station in Lower Downtown Denver on Saturday at 10 a.m. There will be a book signing and a meet-and-greet.

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