The 761 Tank Battalion: Soldiers Known as the Black Panthers During World War II

Written by Jae Jones

The was the last of the three United States Army segregated combat tank battalion during World War II. The unit consisted of soldiers, who were not allowed to serve alongside white troops. These soldiers were known as the Black Panthers, and the unit’s motto was “Come out fighting.” The Battalion trained at Camp Hood Texas, and were rated as superior by Second Army Command Lt. Gen. Ben Lear. Although, Colonel Patton had little faith in the units abilities, the group super succeeded with a number of Colonel Patton’s moves into enemy territory.

The most famous member of the 761st was Second Lieutenant Jack Robinson. During the 761st’s training, a white bus driver told Robinson to move to the back of the bus, and Robinson refused. Although his battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Paul L. Bates, refused to consider the court-martial charges put forward by the arresting Military Policemen, the base commander transferred Robinson to the 758th Tank Battalion, whose commander was willing to sign the insubordination court-martial consent. He would eventually be acquitted of all charges, though he never saw combat.


In the 183 days Patton’s Panthers, the 761st Tank Battalion, fought in combat continuously. The men participated in four major Allied campaigns, including the Battle of The Bulge.  They inflicted more than 130,000 casualties upon the enemy. Eight black enlisted men received battlefield commissions, while 391 received decorations for heroism: 7 Silver Stars for Valor; 56 Bronze Stars for Valor; and 246 Purple Hearts. Three officers and 31 enlisted men were killed in action, and 22 officers and 180 enlisted men were wounded.


761st Tank Battalion: Patton’s Panthers Would Not Quit

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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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