MILITARY & VETERANS AFFAIRS
(7 January, 2010)
National Guard Tackles Icy Challenge
Soldiers move historic battle tank across Brick
New Jersey Army National Guard Sgt. Martin Borton uses a blow torch to melt ice in the axle of an M-60 tank that had been on display in front of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8867 in Brick since 1996. Borton and other troops were preparing the tank for a move across town to VFW Post 5698.
By Sgt. Wayne Woolley
What happens when you take an M-60 tank, pack the gears with ice and add 13 years of rust to the treads?
You a create a long, cold day for a half dozen New Jersey Army National Guard Soldiers who drew the assignment of moving the 50-ton relic across Brick Township on Tuesday.
The mission for the troops from the Bordentown field maintenance shop was simple enough: move the tank from the now shuttered Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5698 in Brick to a new home across town at VFW Post 8867. It was the kind of task they perform at least a half dozen times a year with ease.
Nothing, however, came easy on Tuesday. When the Soldiers arrived just after 8 a.m., it was 22 degrees. They linked the tank to the powerful winch on their Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HMMTT) and began to try to coax the tank off the two rotting pieces of wood where it's sat since it was donated to the VFW in 1996.
When Staff Sgt. Dennis Arnhold flipped a switch to start the winch, the air was filled with the sound of groaning metal. But the tank didn't budge. Nor did it move when the troops changed tactics by having the HMMTT to pull the tank. Pulling from the other direction didn't help either.
“I've never seen one stuck like this,” Sgt. 1st Class James Walker said, shaking his head.
Finally, the answer came to Walker. “Ice,” he said. “The axle is full of ice. We've got to melt it.”
A few minutes of work with a blowtorch and water began pouring out of one of the wheel sprockets. By 12:30 p.m., the tank was ready to be pulled from its resting place and loaded onto a flatbed truck.
Chief Warrant Officer Thomas Russo, the officer in charge of the move, looked satisfied.
“This is the toughest (tank move) I've seen,” he said. “We got it done.”
Chris Ross, the senior vice commander of Post 8867, said he was grateful the Soldiers never gave up. A small welcoming party had been gathering at his post on the other side of town in anticipation of the tank's arrival.
Ross said his post was honored to receive the tank. His post grew to about 800 members when Post 5698 closed three years ago due to declining membership. Most of the remaining members moved to Post 8867. Now the tank was following. The move represented more than five months of coordination between the VFW and the National Guard.
“This tank will stand in front of our post in honor of every veteran and every sacrifice they've made,” said Ross, a Marine Corps veteran of the first Persian Gulf War.
Sgt. 1st Class James Walker, right, run A cable to an M-60 tank in
preparation for moving it between Veterans of Foreign Wars posts
in Brick on Tuesday. Both Soldiers are with the New Jersey Army