Uncommonly Hobert: Colonel Paddy Flint.

My old friend, World War II infantryman and author of BOOTPRINTS, Hobert Winebrenner, certainly was a colorful character.  And I think he valued the same in others.  I came across another scrap today, no doubt given to me years ago by HW, and it struck me as more material for another addition of Uncommonly Hobert.  It was a letter written by Major General Manton S. Eddy on the death of Colonel Harry A. “Paddy” Flint, commander of the 39th Infantry Regiment in Northern Europe.  Seems like Paddy was Hobert’s kind of leader.

Colonel Harry "Paddy" Flint (right) discusses strategy with his friend and commander, General George Patton (left) along with another officer. (Photo Courtesy Creative Commons)

Paddy Flint was 56-years-old, ancient in terms of a front line infantry officer.  He was perhaps best known for coining his unit’s slogan: “Anything, Anytime, Anywhere – Bar Nothing.”  The words soon became a rallying cry with “AAA-O” painted on all the helmets and vehicles in the 39th Infantry.

Flint was also known for his friendship with General Patton and for leading his unit from the front, rather than the rear.  Colonel Paddy Flint was shot by a sniper’s bullet on July 23, 1944.  As he was being carried away by stretcher, an aidman commented, “Remember Paddy, you can’t kill an Irishman.  You can only make him mad.”  Paddy reportedly smiled in confirmation.  Sadly, he died from his wounds the next day.

On July 27, 1944, Major General Manton S. Eddy attempted to express the unit’s loss in a letter addressed to Colonel Paddy Flint’s men.

“Yesterday morning a soldier of the 39th Infantry was buried in the American cemetery at St. Mere Eglise.

Graveside services for Colonel Harry "Paddy" Flint at the American Cemetery-St. Mere Eglise, France.

“The grave he now occupies is a simple one–a soldier’s grave, no different from the other graves of your comrades row on row beside it.  Only one thing about it will make you and me remember it for the rest of our lives–the dog tag on the cross reading ‘Harry A. Flint.’  That dog tag doesn’t make much of an epitaph, but the soldier lying beneath would be the first to say ‘hit don’t make no difference.’  It does make a difference, however, to every one of you and to me to know that Paddy Flint will lead you no longer.  His loss cannot be measured by words, but his death means to your regiment, to this division and to the United States Army the loss of a gifted and lovable leader, and to each of us the passing of a personal friend.

“One thing will never be lost–our memory of him as your regimental commander in Sicily, in England, and in Normandy.  It is this memory which will carry your new commander and every fighting soldier of you in the same direction in which Paddy was leading you when he died.

“Keep that memory with you–depend upon your new leader–carry your fight to the finish.  I am going to do the same.

“Major General Manton S. Eddy”

2 Responses to “Uncommonly Hobert: Colonel Paddy Flint”

  1. I SERVED AS A MED./ CLIN. SPEC WITH H.H.C. 1/39 FROM 9/74-9/76 & H.H.C. 1/13 (m) INF FROM 9/76-9/77 BAUMHOLDER.GERMANY.

  2. arthur j fryer says:

    I was in bravo company 1st of the 39th infantry baumholder germany from sept 77- june 1980.

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