History travels to Fort Polk - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

History travels to Fort Polk

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The soldiers in 46th Engineer Battalion and 88th Brigade Support Battalion work together to accomplish their recovery mission of loading a World War II Sherman Tank for transport to the Fort Polk Museum, Sept. 12, in Many. (Source: U.S. Army) The soldiers in 46th Engineer Battalion and 88th Brigade Support Battalion work together to accomplish their recovery mission of loading a World War II Sherman Tank for transport to the Fort Polk Museum, Sept. 12, in Many. (Source: U.S. Army)
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By Staff Sgt. Meillettis Patton, 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Fort Polk

Chains, wrenches, pipes, pliers and hammers are just few tools used in recovery operations, and the soldier in 46th Engineer Battalion knows them well. Vehicle recovery operation can be a sticky situation. The recovery team has to be prepared for different terrain, vehicles and weather. They must be prepared for contingency plans and backup equipment. This is what the soldiers in 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade prepared for when recovering a Sherman tank from the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Many.

Soldiers in 46th Engineer Battalion and 88th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Maneuver enhancement Brigade, convoyed to Many , on Sept. 12, to recover a World War II, M4 Sherman tank to be placed on display at the Fort Polk Museum.

The tank is from the 1940's era, said Danny Lopez, a Vietnam veteran and member of the Veterans of foreign wars, that donated the Sherman tank to the Fort Polk Museum. It would be better taken care of at the museum, said Lopez.

"We don't want it to deteriorate we want it to be a proud (part of history) that people can learn about, said Larry Perser, the VFW post commander.

 Moving the Sherman from its position would test the recovery skills of the 1st MEB recovery team.

"The convey wasn't difficult at all," said Capt. Brandon O. Frederick, Support Operations Transportation Officer for 88th BSB. "The hard part was actually getting the Sherman Tank to roll and getting it up onto the trailer."

Plan one failed when to the cable from the M-88 Hercules (track recovery vehicle) broke while attempting to lift the Sherman from its position onto a M-916A3 (light equipment transporter) that would be carrying it back to Fort Polk.

"Now for round two," said Capt. Frederick, as the noise from vehicle engines and exhaust smoke fills the air.

The WWII Sherman weighted around 33.4 tons. It had been stationery for years which made moving it from its position no easy task. The recovery team came equipped with a M88 crane extractor, M-916, Hemit Recor, HET and 2 escort Humvees for lead and rear of the convey.

The recovery team tried plan two, which was to use the HEMTT wrecker (M984) to move the Sherman tank from its position, but discovered the tracks were ceased up and that plan did not work either.

We went through about three different plans, said Frederick. Plan three worked we got it to move. Next we put the M-88 Hercules out front which used a lot of horsepower to pull the Sherman Tank from its resting area, said Frederick.

"There were a few hiccups," said Staff Sgt. Paul G. Vanderlugt, squad Leader for 687th company, 46th EN, "We had a couple contingency plans in place and everything worked out with no safety incidents."

This was a chance for different units from 1st MEB to get together and work as a cohesive unit, said Vanderlugt. Soldiers in 88th BSB and 46th EN got together and everything went like a well-oiled machine because of our training.

The Fort Polk Museum plans to restore and maintain the Sherman Tank and place it on display.

"Anytime you can bring back and preserve some of the history of the U.S. Army its always a great thing," said Vanderlugt.

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