“The Hero of Cologne” talks about trials of World War II in Midstate


HUMMELSTOWN, Pa. (WHTM) — The 78th anniversary of Pearl Harbor is Saturday, but the Midstate welcomed a war hero from a different World War II battle on Thursday.

Ninety-six-year-old Clarence Smoyer is the subject of the New York Times bestseller ‘”Spearhead.” He was also the star of Central Pennsylvania World War II Round Table’s December discussion.

“These guys — they were so humble. Clarence never talked about this. He only lives a mile from me. We’ve been doing our history project for 15 years and knew nothing about Clarence,” said Founder of the Lehigh Valley Veterans History Project, Mike Sewards.

Clarence ‘Spearhead’ Smoyer was treacherous in a tank, and Uncle Sam gave him the keys to the newest model. 

“They gave it to him because of his accuracy as a Sherman gunner, and he knocked out five German tanks,” Sewards said. 

“I shot through the glass building and pretty soon, the whole top of the building collapsed and fell on top of the German tank,” Smoyer said.

His achievements are many, but one mistake haunts him. He mistook a civilian car for a German officer, killing two German citizens.

“The girl was lying on the street. She was still alive, but as we passed, I could see her eyes still blinking,” Smoyer said.

“He’s still bothered by that girl he killed. He still sends flowers over,” Sewards said.

His grief, like war itself, is unforgiving, but he finds comfort remembering a conversation with a German soldier right after the battle.

Clarence told him he hopes to see him again. He never expected the response he got back.

“‘Ya, in Himmel,’ — in heaven. So, I think shortly after that, he did die, and I hope he’s paving the way for me up there,” Smoyer said.

Down here he earned a Bronze Star, but was punished for fraternizing with the enemy. His crime was talking to German children who asked for chewing gum. 

“I went up to the mother, and she held onto them and as I was turning and walking away, the [Military Police] came,” Smoyer said.

The giver of gum finally got his Bronze Medal this past September during a ceremony at the White House.

After all he went through, he still has one thing to say.

“War is hell, and I don’t recommend it for anybody,” Smoyer said.

“Spearhead” will be turned into a film. Sewards said the search is currently on for screen writers.

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