The Armored Fighting Vehicles Page section of John's Military History website is dedicated to all those who have fought for freedom, but especially to the webmaster's grand uncle, Paul Ernest Shupe of Company C, 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion. Known by his middle name, Ernest, he lived from 1917 to 1970, and was from Smyth County, Virginia. Although he escaped the war physically unscathed, it is clear that he was one of the millions of casualties of World War II. A kind hearted man, Ernest disliked killing anything, including insects. Nevertheless, he was made a gunner on a tank destroyer, one of the more ill-conceived weapons of the war. His letters home tell of service from North Africa to Italy, including Anzio, and to France and Germany. Like many, the war drove him to mental illness from which he never recovered. Exposure to rock dust in an open-topped turret may have led to his lung problems; he suffered from tuberculosis, and his lungs were partially removed. Many others have fought, suffered, and died for the freedom of the world. But Ernest gives me a personal example of the less obvious and less frequently discussed costs which many men have paid for our freedom.
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