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Thunderbolt Poems

by Michael Hanko - 56th Engineers

The Corps Of Engineers (1995)
Edward J. Mangan, C Company, 56th Engineers
General Willard A. Holbrook, Jr. (1987)
Patton (1982)
The Bulge (1995)
Mauthausen (1994)
Golden Anniversary, 11th Armored Division (1992)
To Our Departed Comrades (1985)
Our Comrades (1997)
Texas (1991)
To Have And To Hold (1970)
In Memoriam (1962)
Memories (1996)
Remembering (1998)
Together, Forever (1979)

            The Corps Of Engineers (1995)

As my mind wanders to the distant past and I brush away the years,
My memory dwells on those gallant men of the Combat Engineers.
There wasn't a road that they couldn't build or river they wouldn't span;
They laid the mines or laid down their lives for their fellow man.
They could blast a bridge, blow up a pill box or quickly shoulder a gun;
They fought side by side with the infantry and did what had to be done.
Out in the open, with no cover, they'd probe and search for mines;
They'd clear a path under artillery fire, close to the enemy lines.
When a road block stopped a column, they'd call out for the Engineers;
It had to be eliminated, no matter the cost in blood, lives or tears;
It took a lot of courage and dedication to push aside one's fears;
But soon, the column was moving again to the sound of grinding gears.
Let's not even try to contemplate all the sacrifices that were made,
No words could glorify those heroes, whose cherished lives were paid;
Let's simply, solemnly thank our Dear Lord for the Engineer
And all our fellow, noble men who our hearts held so dear.
(Never before has so much been done by so few . . . .) 

            Edward J. Mangan
   C Company, 56th Engineers

Troy Lee sent me a sad letter just the other day,
He wrote that our old friend Ed Mangan passed away.
Life it seems can go on and on,
Then like a vapor, it's suddenly gone.
My mind wandered back to Camp Polk and our 3rd platoon,
To right compass problems under a bright southern moon.
I can still see young Ed as he looked back then,
Tall, straight as a ramrod and so full of whim.
It seemed that he liked being a soldier right from the start;
His vigor, determination and devotion came right from his heart.
At the sound of reveille, Ed would be up and at them.
He inspired us all and it was a credit to have him.
In combat, many earned their Silver and Bronze Stars;
Young Ed was among them in our greatest of wars.
So now the bugle sounds its last and final call,
Rest in peace old comrade, with a blessing from us all.
I saw Ed at a few reunions and his spirit didn't change,
Yes, he was old and gray now, but at our age it wasn't strange.
somewhere way out yonder, at some wonderful far-off distant place,
The Dear Lord called Ed home again, but his memory we'll never erase. 

   General Willard A. Holbrook, Jr. (1987)

There's times when words just can't seem to convey,
The sorrow in our hearts, when a friend passes away.
His leadership and fellowship will still linger on,
And his accomplishments exalted, after we too are gone.
With devotion and patriotism, he was a steadfast soldier;
No responsibility was too great, to rest on his shoulder.
Indeed! America be proud, to have had such a daring son,
So dedicated to our cause, until our great victory was won.
In the "Who's Who" of records, for that Long Grey Line,
The names Holbrook and Patton will stand ever, sublime.
Daughter, Joanne H. Patton, is a part of that proud family tree,
And all of the family fondly shares a place, in our happy memory.
How quickly, the years vanished into the pages of time;
Sadly, young soldiers grow old and no solace we find.
Yes, even our fine General's career had to one day end,
But his unbreakable spirit and courage will never bend.
No more will he be awakened and rise to the bugler's sound,
Or hear the roar of the "Thunderbolt" on the battle ground;
Nor will he proudly, salute from a viewing stand,
As we marched by in unison, to a great Army band.
Listing all generals, in your own words you said, "You showed us how."
Indomitable, incomparable, the Thunderbolt to no enemy would bow.
The distinguished Third Army records are open for all to see,
Unsurpassable by any other Army, in our proud nation's history.
Our reunions were honored to have had "Hunk" and Helen, his wife;
those bright memories, we'll cherish for the rest of our life.
They seemed so humble and decent and it always, made us so proud,
Just to see their sweet faces and count them as one of our crowd.
No, somehow, things just won't seem the same,
But our thoughts of you, will always, remain.
Yes, those Taps have made still another claim;
This time, our Number One Thunderbolt is the name.
When the Book of Life is open,
And your name is softly, spoken,
May the Lord, call you there up yonder,
From whence, your soul will never wander.
Rest quietly and peacefully, Life's long battle is done;
Surely, with integrity and honor, our hearts you have won.
Though time may one day weather the stone on your grave,
May it ever, stank as a symbol for the free and the brave.
The Dear Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,
But He promised life eternal, to all who obey.
Farewell! Our Godly staunch and faithful friend;
In God's heavenly, paradise, there will be no end. 

                Patton (1982)

Dear Lord, the things he cherished, we leave with Thee,
As a monument to your servant and champion of liberty.
Beyond the sea, where now he rest,
We trust, his soul you will surely, bless.
Forget not his comrades, lying by his side;
For they too, for your cause have nobly died.
As for his living warriors, now old and gray,
We thank you graciously, for each passing day.
One by one now, you are calling us home,
No more to battle, no more to roam;
To these dear families who suffered through this ordeal,
May they find your comforting Savior and know he is real.
Leaning on your faith as you took his hand,
Against this mighty army no foe could stand.
Its achievements and record were beyond comprehension.
With your guiding wisdom, it showed a new dimension.
These men, indeed, seemed quite astounding.
Their courage and sacrifice was most abounding.
Shame the hearts of those who would not defend,
Our beloved country to the bitter end.
May our nation never depart from Thee,
Bless and guide it, from sea to sea.
Though his treasures may someday pass away,
His spirit, I'm sure is here to stay.
We fought the good fight and the victory was won,
But hold high the colors for the battle's not done.
Liberty and freedom are never secure;
We must ever, protect it, that is for sure.
Should it ever be threatened and one day it will,
We pray Dear Lord, that you are with us still.
Give us a Patton and more stout hearted men,
To defend your honor and our nation, forever. Amen! 

                  The Bulge (1995)

Long ago and so far away, on a dismal, bleak, December,
Our dear comrades gave their lives, as we all remember;
We came home, but they remained, beneath their little white monument;
Our life went on but theirs ceased to be - a symbol of their sacrament.
The horrors of war are such, that it bears no pleasure relating;
It leaves no pleasant, memory and its thoughts are nauseating.
One never forgets its brutality, nor its constant fear;
The daily thought that you may die, was always ever near.
We survived the Bulge, but in life's battle with time,
there is no victory and the Lord still reigns divine;
But with faith and trust, there is still life ever lasting;
The Good Lord Said, "It's so," and his word is most relying.
We knew not what a new day would bring or if we'd see the dawn;
all we could do was to pray to God to keep us all out of harm.
For some, the Lord gave no choice and He simply called them home,
To His heavenly sacred paradise from whence they'd never more roam.
Life's clock of time keeps ticking on and we too are old and gray;
One day, the Dear Lord will beckon us and our life will fade away.
Let's enjoy every single moment and trust always in Our Lord,
And pray He us many more years and believe in His word. 

                             Mauthausen (1994)

No words can describe the agony and horror of what my eyes have seen;
No pardon could justify the brutality, if you know just what I mean.
When the Book of Life is opened and all stand bare before our Dear Lord,
There'll be no cloak under which to hide and evil will reap its reward.
The wicked will plead for mercy as in judgment, they will stand;
They'll beg the Lord's forgiveness and hope He doesn't reprimand;
For torture imposed and lives destroyed, they'll plead innocence and misunderstanding;
They simply had to obey all of their master's will, whose orders were most demanding.
I spoke to a sad maiden who saw her dear mother killed before her very eyes;
They threw her into a fast revolving cylinder with sharp and jagged knives.
I told her that her hate for them must be overwhelming which only revenge could redeem;
She said, "No, my dear mother never taught me to hate and I just know not what you mean."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing and she prayed that the Lord give them salvation;
She prayed they'd repent from their evil ways and the Lord would grant their redemption.
When the roll is called up yonder and we stand before that pearly gate,
I know the Dear Lord will hold her hand and she'll have not long to wait. 

Golden Anniversary, 11th Armored Division (1992)

It all started down in Dixie in Nineteen Forty-Two;
When they assembled a conglomeration of men like me and you.
Dear Uncle sent his greetings and it wasn't any joke,
Before we knew what happened, he had us at Camp Polk.
We got a triangular Patch with a tank and a number eleven;
Stationed nearby, a similar one, showed the number eleven;
with its radiant red, yellow and blue, we knew it was for teal,
And this was the beginning of the men of courage, iron, and steel.
It also had this lightning, which packed an awful jolt,
So we became from that day on, the "Fighting Thunderbolt."
Next came our basic training and then maneuvering as well,
And when it was over, we thought we went through hell.
Soon there came the desert and so much more of the same;
Before we really knew it, we were on an eastbound train.
There was this place called Jersey, with transports ocean bound,
And soon, we were part of a convoy, where ships were all around.
We crossed the great Atlantic and reached jolly England's shore,
But this was just the beginning and very soon we'd see much more.
There came the Channel crossing and then to "No Man's Land."
Where gallant men lay dying and we had to make our stand.
We went with General Georgie Patton, known as "Blood and Guts,"
He led our great Third Army and it drove the Germans nuts.
We were in the midst of battle which they called the Bulge;
Our direction was ever forward, and the enemy to indulge.
There was that awful, bitter cold and who can forget Bastogne;
We liberated those fighting bastards, as the 101st was known.
And so it was as we battled east until our task was done,
And then found ourselves in Austria, when the war was won.
Let us never forget our comrades, who died along the way;
Why the Dear Lord called them home, is not for us to say.
We must always cherish them, each and every name,
Less they be forgotten and would have died in vain.
For all of us, that the Good Lord did spare,
Let's thank him kindly, with a humble prayer.
Let's count our blessings that we could be,
Still alive on this our Golden Anniversary.
Fifty long years, how could it be, perhaps, I'm only dreaming;
Why only yesterday it seems, our faces with youth were beaming;
But no it's true, the years did pass like the falling autumn leaves;
Gone forever, into those pages of time, like a gentle summer breeze.
How graciously Lord, you've sheltered us over the passing years,
And in your bosom cradled us, through all life's joys and tears.
No, we didn't deserve your kindness, from day to passing day;
We came short of all your glory, and at times did go astray.
Guide us Dear Lord, as we approach the sunset of our life;
May no burden overwhelm us, as we continue our daily strife;
And should there ever be those moments of trying tribulation,
Grant us Dear Lord, your abiding faith and merciful consolation. 


Reunions are indeed, one of the most wonderful of all places,
Where you meet dear old friends and see their charming faces.
There's tours, dinners and just plain old fashioned fun,
And it isn't long before, we have the blues on the run.
Soldiers swap tales and speak of old battles galore;
Some listen astonishingly and keep asking for more.
To do what some did, is just so hard to comprehend and conceive,
But it's said with such sincerity, that you just got to believe.
There's some I declare, who must have won the war all alone;
Why they needed poor little us, will just never be known.
Speaking of our lost buddies, brings a tear to our eye,
It does sadden our hearts and there's some who even cry.
At our Memorial Service, the Good Lord comes close to us all,
As we pay tribute to our comrades, some who in battle did fall.
Eyes grow dimmer, ears grow fainter and hair turns silver with passing years,
Age is descending, it's no use pretending and the thinning ranks bring tears.
I wish, if I may, to dedicate this poem to our reunions' unsung heroes.
They served diligently and their sacrifices, only the Dear Lord knows.
Some have left us and gone to the great beyond, may they rest in peace.
No words seem to justly thank them, but our praise should never cease.
I'll forever treasure those memories of all the reunions of the past;
Those friendships will ever remain in m heart and always be steadfast.
The party soon is over and they depart to whence they came;
Watch over them Dear Lord and may they come back once again. 

      To Our Departed Comrades (1985)

These hearts were tempered by the Great Depression;
their staunch, loyalty would not tolerate any demonstration.
Uncle Sam said, "It's for the duration and plus;
An unconditional surrender is a certain must."
The ranks were swarm with volunteers,
And faces were drenched with many tears.
All registered, and the slogan was: "Remember Pearl,"
As our nation's might began to unfurl.
Faithfully and diligently, they served without pause;
Our security and freedom was a justifiable cause.
These men made America respectable and proud;
Our Nation's spirit rose to the highest cloud.
none can escape age or the web of time;
Each year adds its toll to the relentless line.
Oh! How those Taps do sadden my heart,
As, one by one, we've watched them depart.
Rest in serenity and peace you warriors, so bold;
Surely, your sacrifice and courage won't go untold.
May the Lord bless you all of the "Armored Eleven."
God willing, in the beyond, may we meet again, in heaven. 


As I wandered through the field of time,
Our autobiographies all came to my mind.
I stared at the photos taken, "Now and Then."
And was partial to those of way back when -?
All faces reflected the wear of the years;
It brings one's eyes to the brink of tears.
As I read each one name by name,
it took me back to old memory lane.
Life was kind and good to so very many;
God blessed them in our land of plenty.
My heart went all out to the departed, we knew,
Whose loved ones wrote their autobiography too.
Through it all, my heart was gladdened,
And yet, one thought, made me saddened;
Only a meek handful, remember to say:
"Thanks Dear Lord for being here today."
When Christ restored three blind men's sight,
One returned to thank him, in sheer delight;
Christ said, "I only see but you -
What happened, to the other two?"
It's only by the grace of our Dear God,
That on this earth, we still may trod.
So less we forget please, let's all say it now:
"Thank you Dear Lord," with heads that are bow. 

                           Our Comrades (1997)

The Dear Lord blessed us all with so many wonderful, delightful years;
Yet the sad memories of our departed comrades wet our eyes with tears;
In distant lands beyond the seas, may their crosses forever a symbol be;
A solemn emblem to all our brave who died that all can be forever, free.
It seems no matter what I write, it's just so slight and lacking;
Words just aren't enough and they justify something more deserving;
What an awful price they gave and what a great sacrifice was shown;
A young life forever gone, there is no new tomorrow or going home.
How often, we all think of them and we know it was God's will;
Surely, somewhere in His Heavenly Domain, they are happy still;
None can change what happened and it's how God wanted it to be;
We'll never know all His reasons but that is not for us to see.
So farewell all our faithful comrades, rest in quiet and peace;
The noise of battle is no more and its painful misery has cease;
The Dear Lord have us our life and one day He will taketh it away;
There is no more that we can say and to you, Our Maker, we do pray. 

                 Texas (1991)

Texas always, just seemed to intrigue me;
I couldn't quite phantom what it might be;
It's beautiful songs had a haunting melody
And the words blended in perfect, harmony.
Each song had its story that would relate,
All the splendor of this Lone Star State.
It would seem to set your eyes all aglow;
Your heart beat with rapture at the Alamo.
Those Texans sure had a great sense of pride;
Their feeling was such, that none could hide.
there was always, a cowboy, Tex at each rodeo
And at every town carnival or some circus show.
The Yellow Rose would have you jingling,
And round up time would set you tingling.
Back home on the range had a peaceful serenity,
And the eyes of Texas would mark your identity.
The Bright stars at night sure seemed to shine.
That wide open green prairie seemed so sublime.
The Good Lord was so kind to you indeed,
And He seemed to supply your every need.
Let's not forget Sam Houston and San Antone;
They fought for freedom and stood all alone.
God bless you Texans, stand real proud and tall.
Lord, may this reunion be one of the best of all. 

To Have And To Hold (1970)

We thank you for our humble life
To continue on with our daily strife.
We know that time will take its toll,
And another name soon leaves our roll.
In times of trying tribulation,
We ask your guiding consolation
Beyond the grave, life's not yet done,
For God gave us Christ, his living Son.
Like the ruined tracks and battered tanks,
The days will thin our noble ranks.
And when the final one you call,
May he give his silent prayer for all.
Oh gracious God, master of our destiny
And judge of that which was to be,
As we bend our heads in silent prayer,
Bless our departed comrades, everywhere.
Those here at home and in distance lands,
Each name you chose, so proudly stands.
Watch over their graves and may they be,
A symbol, of the brave and free.
May man yet learn to live in peace,
And war's desolation forever cease.
to those of us who you did spare,
Give courage and the strength to bear.
Soothe the hearts and lessen the pain,
Of those whose loved ones, no longer remain.
May your gentle hand upon them dwell,
Protect and keep them ever well. 

                 In Memoriam (1962)

Beneath those white crosses, which as sentinels stand,
Majestically protecting them like the Almighty hand,
In a slumbering sleep beneath that blanket of stone,
Rest the heroes we've known who never came home.
The stars glitter like diamonds in the heavenly night,
Yet, their eyes cannot see them so that our eyes might,
Their snow covered crosses in the light of the moon,
Are symbolic of the comrades who have parted too soon.
How many the hearts that have been burdened with pain,
Praying and hoping for their loves to return,
No more will they answer the bugle's call,
Their battle is over, they have given their all.
There in the morning and spring of life,
Amidst the struggle and bitter strife,
They sacrificed their lives, so that we could be
Forever safe, secure and free.
Their dreams are now but like a fading light,
That was dimmed with time until its night.
And those memories slowly drift away,
Like the sunset of a closing day.
Where are the words that could thank those that would give,
Their lives, as a token so that we might live.
The most flowery verses could not justly say,
The thoughts in our hearts for those who there lay.
So like the Savior who died on the cross,
We'll treasure these men whose lives have been lost.
For there's nothing more noble in any land,
Than the life that was given for a fellow man. 

                 Memories (1996)

Memories both old and new, God's gracious gift to all,
What a blessed privilege it is, to remember and recall.
We view the beauty of God's world and His great artistic hand;
We marvel at His creation whose secrets we'll never understand.
The golden years of childhood and simple little thing;
Those pleasant joyful moments, still in our memory clings.
So quickly passed those days of youth with joys beyond all measure;
Life was so full of wonderful things and a sea of constant pleasure.
The dear memories of my Army days just seem to have no end;
Some were sad, some were glad and others hard to comprehend.
I'll forever cherish those friendships of everyone I knew;
Each was unique in their own way and God's creation, too.
It was my privilege and pleasure to share with them those years,
In the service of our country, in the times of stress and fears.
The fond memories of old comrades who once we held so dear,
Is one of God's greatest blessings and most memorable to hear. 

                    Remembering (1998)

Age and time have dimmed our thoughts as we walk down memory lane;
Our long lost comrades haunt me and it's something I can't explain;
They all beg to be remembered so we try as best we can;
May God richly, bless them, as He reaches out His hand;
I see their youthful faces as we soldiered at Camp Polk;
We shared each other's hardships and life had so much hope;
We wished the war was over but w had to make our stand;
None nursed any feeling that he'd die in a foreign land;
But die they did, their life was no more and suddenly it ends;
A horrible feeling in us dwells and it's agony on us descends;
What an awful pity to leave this world at such a tender age;
Thank the Lord for our privilege to continue on life's stage;
With heavy hearts we think of them, what wise can we really do?
We offer them our humble prayers to the glory of those we knew;
This is the last of my poems, what else can I say?
My mind just isn't what it was, let's bless God and pray.

Together, Forever (1979)

Life’s saddest moment ever known
Is when the Lord calls our loved ones home.
no words can describe the agony,
When we realize death’s finality.
For all of our most honored dead,
How much tears and blood were shed.
No new day for them will be,
As they rest in quiet serenity.
As we journey down life’s distant way,
Their memories with us forever, stay.
We think of the happy, golden years,
When we shared their pleasures and their fears.
As age descends on foolish youth,
We see God’s wisdom and His truth.
The heavens bestow our Master’s hand
And beacon to his every command.
The Lord promised us we’d never die,
We’d live forever, in the by and by.
Just trust in Him, and His amazing grace
Will all our sins forever, erase.
With our loved ones gone before,
We’ll be together forever, more.
There’ll be no suffering or any pain.
The Lord will there forever reign.
We heard of our Savior’s resurrection
And of His life of true, perfection.
So be not troubled or dismayed,
His promise to us will be conveyed.
So rejoice, fear not and be not sad.
In fact, we should be exceedingly glad,
For someday in the great beyond,
We’ll meet our loved ones when salvation’s won.
His words leave little for us to say.
He remembers us whenever we pray.
Let’s trust that he will take our hand
And lead us to His Promised Land.

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