ARMED FORCES: Ax and Scalpel

He was "Tootsie" to his parents, "Roosevelt's butcher" to the Nazis, "Taskmaster" to his hard-driven aides in Viet Nam and "an American hero" to President Ford. From his emergence as a tank commander in World War II to his death last week of lung-cancer complications at 59, Creighton Abrams Jr. won respect even from enemies abroad and antiwar activists at home.

As a swaggering 29-year-old lieutenant colonel, he swept his 37th Tank Battalion through Normandy, sealing off the peninsula in the eleven days after Dday. In his dramatic breakthrough to relieve Bastogne and...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!