William R. Hogan

Task Force Hogan: The World War II Tank Battalion That Spearheaded the Liberation of Europe

Overview from the Publisher

A fourth-generation soldier tells the story of his father’s tank battalion, the “Spearhead,” that selflessly led the charge on the front lines from Normandy into Germany—against impossible odds, technologically superior weaponry, and a fanatical enemy on its home turf—and the heroes whose sacrifice won World War II.

At twenty-eight, Sam Hogan is one of the youngest lieutenant colonels in the US Army. The West Point graduate from Texas stands in the commander’s hatch of his Sherman tank, behind him a steel wedge of seventeen other Shermans of his tank battalion. Two weeks after the now-infamous D-Day landings, Sam is preparing to give the order to advance into the German defenses that enclose the Normandy beachheads. Ahead of Sam lies seemingly impossible odds for survival: technologically superior Nazi tanks, camouflaged anti-tank guns, and infantry armed with new anti-tank rockets. But Sam has prepared for this moment for the past seven years. With a guttural call to move out accompanied by diesel fumes and the squeak of tank treads, Sam and his men begin their long journey to liberate Europe—a journey from which many of them would not return.

So begins the story of Sam Hogan and his colorful band of tanker heroes of the Third Armored Division—the “Spearhead”—as they battle on the front lines of some of the war’s toughest fights, from Normandy to the Elbe to the Battle of the Bulge. The soldiers of Task Force Hogan come from all walks of life. There are cooks, tankers, infantrymen, salty old sergeants, and wet-behind-the-ears lieutenants. In common, they have a sense of duty to each other and their country, and the struggle against the most sinister enemy modern history has ever produced.

In Task Force Hogan, the story of Sam and his band of heroes comes to life through the writing of his son, Will Hogan—aided by never-before-seen letters, military dispatches, journal entries, and interviews with surviving family of the Task Force. These were the soldiers at the tip of the spear, brave enough to lead the charge and fight against insurmountable odds, and often paying the ultimate price, while liberating French villages and concentration camps as they rolled towards Germany to ultimately win the war. In the pages of this book, Will Hogan finally gives these unsung soldiers the voice and memorial that they all deserve.


“Hogan’s youngest son, William, used a trove of archival documents to construct this incredible, thrilling narrative of armored, combined-arms WWII. This chronicle brings the reader right into the horrors of combat, the fatigue the men felt, the mud, the fear, and the constant awareness of the law of averages that chases every soldier on the battlefield. The author writes about his father’s service and that of his comrades with a sympathetic but professionally distanced style that does an excellent job of humanizing the brothers-in-arms and empathizing with their situations. TASK FORCE HOGAN cannot be recommended strongly enough.” –Booklist, Starred Review

“Following this assessment of his courageous father, William Hogan combines official sources with family correspondence, journals, and interviews with surviving members of the task force to deliver an admiring account of 10 months of brutal combat. . . . the author has done his homework, delivering a capable nuts-and-bolts, often gruesome description of small-unit action that undoubtedly resembles what actually occurred. Readers will learn the smell, sound, operation, and defects of a Sherman tank; the makeup, command structure, and tactics of an American armored division; and personal stories of scores of men under and above Sam Hogan.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Former U.S. Army officer and fourth-generation soldier Hogan debuts with a fast-paced and immersive chronicle of the wartime exploits of his father, Samuel Hogan, who fought in WWII as a member of the Third Armored Division…. Hogan captures the constant danger, uncertainty, and stress of combat. The result is an action-packed tribute to a father from his son.” —Publishers Weekly

[Recorded on July 4, 2024]

History Camp Authors

    America's Summer Roadtrip 2020

      William R. Hogan is a fourth-­generation US Army veteran. During his twenty years in the military, he served in armored, airborne, and special operations units. His service took him from peacekeeping in the Balkans and humanitarian assistance operations in Haiti to combat in Afghanistan. Twice he served as a military attaché and most recently as an exchange officer at the French Army headquarters in Paris. Based in Paris and on the US East Coast, Will enjoys travel, skiing, diving, playing guitar, and, of course, military history. He is the son of Samuel Hogan, who was one of the youngest and most colorful tactical-­level combat commanders of World War II.

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