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UTAHN NAMED `TANK ACE’ IN ARMY’S HALL OF FAME

SHARE UTAHN NAMED `TANK ACE’ IN ARMY’S HALL OF FAME

His leg still bothers him as he attempts to get up from the easy chair in his den - the same leg that was injured while he was a U.S. Army tank commander 45 years ago in Europe.

The memories of war and injury are indelible for Clifford L. Elliott. But it's not an event the 72-year-old Davis County man relives or dwells on.It's the Silver Star and four Purple Hearts along with several other medals enshrined in a glass case on the wall that serve as reminders of the sacrifices he and millions of other young Americans made for America.

However, the exemplary actions by this then-young Utah Army officer in five European battle campaigns so many years ago recently won him the distinction of being inducted into the Army Hall of Fame, Fort Knox, Ky., as a "Tank Ace."

"It's quite an honor, and there were over a million personnel in the armored divisions in World War II," said the Fruit Heights man who was wounded four times.

"There have been other `aces' in combat, mainly those recognized for air battles, but not many for tanks," he said.

"Your combat prowess and distinctly brave actions will undoubtedly inspire the many tankers who come through here to train," wrote Maj. William Bell, chief of the Army Simulator Division, Fort Knox.

In the eight months he served with the 3rd Armored Division, his tank destroyed over 250 pieces of German equipment including other tanks, trucks, artillery pieces and a train.

His platoon was credited with capturing more than 1,000 enemy soldiers.

Elliott was born in Farmington and graduated from Davis High School before going on to Utah State University where he graduated in 1939.

He entered the military on March 19, 1941, and completed basic training at Fort Knox. He served two years as an enlisted man before becoming an officer.

The tank commander saw heavy fighting at Trios Pont, Belgium, against the 1st SS Panzer "Adolf Hitler" Division and he participated in one of the longest one-day drives in the history of armored warfare - 104 kilometers.

Other combat action included the closing of the Falaise-Argentan Gap and the Battle of the Bulge.

"The fighting got pretty hairy at times, and I had some awful close calls," he said. "A split second or two, or one or two inches in either direction, and I wouldn't have come back."

Robert Casey, a war correspondent with the Chicago Tribune, wrote in his book, "This Is Where I Came In," about Elliott's actions in Belgium in September 1944.

"From where I stood I could count on at least 150 German vehicles burned or demolished. On the corner, only 50 yards from the nearest tank, was a self-propelled 88 still smoking. It didn't look to me as if there could be any explanation under the law of averages why Lt. Elliott was still alive.

The tank ace later was aboard the first U.S. tank to cross the border into Germany on Sept. 12, 1944.

The war soon ended in Europe and Elliott was discharged from the Army in 1946. He was recalled in 1950 for two more years of armored duty in Korea.