Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Sherman Tank Makes Waves on Smallman 'Tanks for the Memories' Event at Heinz History Center Honors Wwii Era

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Sherman Tank Makes Waves on Smallman 'Tanks for the Memories' Event at Heinz History Center Honors Wwii Era

Article excerpt

History doesn't always pass as quietly as a ticking clock or the turning of a page. Sometimes it roars to life in a way that cannot be forgotten - like a Sherman tank.

The tank that rumbled down Smallman Street in the Strip District on Saturday was part of the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. It belongs to Ligonier resident John Tippins, who loaned it to the Senator John Heinz History Center as part of its "World War II: We Can Do It" exhibit, which runs through Jan. 10, and for Saturday's "Tanks for the Memories" event.

Hundreds of people - many of them veterans - turned out to see the 37-ton behemoth, one of 60,000 built for the conflict and maintained by Mr. Tippins, an amateur military historian. Other military vehicles also were on display, including one of the first Jeeps, on loan to the history center from the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.

Andrew E. Masich, president and CEO of the history center, noted that the Jeep was invented in Butler and many of the tank parts were designed and manufactured in Western Pennsylvania during the 1940s. "Pittsburgh was the arsenal of democracy," Mr. Masich said, standing alongside the tank. "That turret was cast in Lawrenceville in 1944, and the gun stabilizer was made by Westinghouse. We thought this was a good way to remind people of Pittsburgh's role in World War II but also to recognize and show our appreciation for The Greatest Generation."

Making the exhibit all the more realistic were members of the U.S. Tank Corps and about a dozen re-enactors - even a ready-to- swing-dance USO girl - who posed for photos with those in attendance. The cigar-chomping sergeants were dressed in authentic olive drab gear from their boots to their helmets, reinforcing the World War II image except for the occasional emergence of a digital camera from a gabardine pocket.

Tank expert Col. Kevin W. Farrell of New Windsor, N.Y., who was a technical adviser on the Brad Pitt movie "Fury," was brought in to speak during a forum that was part of the event.

"I think this is a very good way to connect people today with the sacrifice of our forebears, many of them now our grandfathers and even great-grandfathers," he said. …

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