Cold War-era tank starts new journey

Last modified: 8/16/2014 1:47:20 AM
The 60 tons of steel and American military equipment you thought you saw rumbling on interstates 93 and 393 yesterday?

No, it wasn’t a hallucination.

It was the most recent journey for an M60 tank that had been a roadside landmark in Loudon village since 1996. The tank was gifted to American Legion Post 88 in Loudon to commemorate its 50th anniversary that year, and yesterday it made the trip about 90 miles north, to American Legion Post 31 in Whitefield. The Loudon post needed to move the tank after its Legion hall was moved to make room for a new town-office building. The Legion plans to rebuild at nearby Sanborn Mills Farm.

About 40 people moseyed on South Village Street to get a glimpse of the Cold War-era tank, which was used for training by the state National Guard. One of those people was Jean Lee, who has lived across the street for more than 25 years.

“Well, it’s kind of sad because it’s been outside of my house since 1996,” said Lee, clutching a camera. “It’s how I give directions to people to get to the house.”

Lee had been in contact with Whitefield to find out exactly when the tank would be moved.“I had to be here for this,” she said.

The U.S. Army’s TACOM Life Cycle Management Command in Michigan still owns the tank. It is on loan as part of a program that donates demilitarized equipment to organizations with specific guidelines for its display, care and security.

The agreement mandates that the receiving agency inspect the equipment annually. For safety reasons, the tank has been welded shut to prevent people from getting inside.

“I think it’s kind of exciting for everybody,” said John Tholl, post adjutant for the Whitefield Legion. “But in some ways, I feel bad you guys are losing it.”

By day’s end yesterday, the tank was expected to roll onto its new home: a concrete pad in Whitefield. The Legion plans to have a Veterans Day celebration with members of the Loudon post and state dignitaries to officially welcome the tank.

The tank is a spectacle, standing almost 10 feet tall with a giant gun turret pointing straight forward.

“It’s pretty much all steel,” Tholl said.

Arrangements to move the tank to Whitefield were finalized more than a year ago, but finding a mover who could handle the behemoth was difficult. It wasn’t until Tholl met Bud Chapman that he found the man for the mission. Chapman, co-owner of Milan-based Chapman Heavy Haul, said it’s the first tank he’s ever moved.

“About a year ago, John mentioned he had a tank that needed to be moved. I said, ‘Yeah, of course,’ ” Chapman said yesterday. Chapman did the move for free because the chance to move a tank doesn’t come around often, he said. It was loaded onto a detachable low bed trailer. The trailer can carry up to 65 tons.

As the tank turned south toward Route 106, Lee said it would have a good home in Whitefield. It is where her late husband, Robert, grew up.

“If it’s got to go somewhere, I’m glad it’s going to Whitefield,” she said.

(Iain Wilson can be reached at 369-3313 or or on Twitter@iainwilsoncm.)

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