I had been meaning to write about Florentino (“Tino”) Carrillo for some time. He’s one of my all-time heroes. Not so much for his lifetime achievements, but for his incredible humanness. I wrote the enclosed as a response to an e-mail from my friend my Sam Bluefarb where he made reference to General George Patton.
Sam…. One of my favorite interviews is that of Florentino (“Tino”) Carrillo who is married to a cousin. They grew up in Sierra Blanca, Texas, where a youthful, future General Patton patrolled. As a German war prisoner Tino suffered inhumane treatment at the hands of his captors. They beat him gravely when he refused to reveal information about his platoon. After each response of “United States Army”, they beat him until he had to be hospitalized.
During my interview Tino spoke very highly of his General Patton. He talked about how he took the time to speak to his men. On one occasion Patton asked if there was anyone from Sierra Blanca present. Tino stepped forth whereupon Patton asked: “How are those son-of-a-bitch Love brothers doing?” The Love brothers were cattle thieves. “ I never could catch those S.O.Bs”, Tino added. Other remarks I dare not repeat.
Sam … I tended to doubt Tino’s stories a wee bit. I Could not believe the General would take that much time to speak to his men.
The men often spoke of Patton with mixed feelings. You often heard the expression, “His guts and our blood,” a play on Patton’s famous label–“Blood-‘n-Guts”. But there was a grudging respect for him, not only as a commander, but as a man whose actions matched his talk.
An example, backed by an action: When the Third Army (My Division was attached to it) was thrusting toward the Rhine, and some infantrymen seemed to have a case of “nerves,” Patton hit them with: “March and fire! March and fire! Goddamn it, March and Fire. You gotta die sometime!”
Like so many mostly unsubstantiated legends, there could be a grain of truth, because the second part of the equation is illustrated by this anecdote. My company was attempting to “throw” a pontoon bridge across the Saar River when Patton visited the company. I was not down there at the time. I was in a village (Wurzburg? , I believe) a few miles west… although I wasn’t out of “harm’s way” either. That night, the town was subjected to lots of incoming artillery . But, the next day, all the men witnessed a small sample of his courage–or foolhardiness?
We were still receiving incoming fire from pillboxes on the far bank. But, when Patton stood up and raised a pair of binoculars to get a better view of the terrain across the river, everyone hit the ground. The men thought he was nuts, but they did so with a mix of awe and grudging respect.
Binoculars are light reflectors, a perfect target.