WASHINGTON — When 96-year-old Clarence Smoyer came to Washington, he thought he was heading to the Pentagon to sign copies of a book detailing his exploits as a World War II tank gunner.
Instead, he found a full Army color guard and ceremony awarding him a Bronze Star, 75 years after the battle that made him a hero.
Smoyer, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, was part of a famous duel in Cologne, Germany, where his Pershing tank destroyed a German Panther tank. The battle was captured on film and Smoyer became known as the “Hero of Cologne.” But he was denied a Bronze Star at the time due to a minor disciplinary issue.
The Army ruled last month that Smoyer deserved the medal and helped arrange Wednesday’s surprise at Washington’s World War II memorial.