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...

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