Moving a tank had never been requested of Pennington’s Wrecker Service, at Keith, or Allen’s Body Shop, at Grays Knob, but together they figured out a way to move and place a 60-ton M60 military tank at the Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy on Friday.
Donated by the Wendell H. Ford Training Center, in Greenville, Mercer Transportation, of Louisville, transported the large tank to Grays Knob en-route to the academy said Director Josh Coldiron. After being unable to maneuver the narrow road and railroad track crossing, Frank Pennington Sr. and Chris Allen were contacted and they volunteered their services to get the tank to the academy and place it onto a prepared concrete pad.
“We took the tank off the truck at Grays Knob and first brought it to the parking lot of the academy,” said Frank Pennington Sr., owner and operator of Pennington’s Wrecker Service. “It was a wet day so we had to wait until it dried out somewhat before moving the tank across the lawn and onto the concrete pad, which is what we did today.”
Pennington said it was “kind of tough,” but everyone involved did “a good job.”
“We can handle it,” said Pennington. “We’d never moved a tank before, but we figured it out and got the job done. I believe it may be the first time a tank has ever been moved into Harlan County.”
Owner and operator of Allen’s Body Shop, Chris Allen said he worked together with Pennington so that the veterans of Harlan County and other residents, as well as the cadets at the academy may enjoy a piece of American history.
“This is something good for our community — you don’t see a tank in Harlan County everyday,” said Allen.
Coldiron said he was glad the tank arrived and was put in place before their “Welcome House” event planned for May 18 from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.
“This will give everyone a chance to view the tank while visiting our campus,” said Coldiron.
The M60 Patton tank weighed 60 tons and had a crew of four — commander, gunner, loader and driver. The tank is now primarily found in U.S. Reserve and National Guard units, but served as the primary U.S. main battle tank for two decades prior to the introduction of the M1. Developed from the M48 Patton series, the M60 was fitted with a 105mm main gun. Criticized for its high profile and limited cross-country mobility, this durable tank proved reliable and underwent many updates over its service life. Initially produced in 1960, over 15,000 M60s were built by Chrysler and first saw service in 1961. Production ended in 1983, but 5,400 older models were converted to the M60A3 variant ending in 1990. This tank saw action with the Israeli forces during the Yom Kippur War in both the Sinai and the Golan Heights. During Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force fielded 210 M60A1s to support the Saudi-Marine effort into Kuwait City.
Besides its main gun, the M60 series tanks are equipped with a 7.62mm M240 coaxial machine gun and 12.7mm M85 antiaircraft gun. Power was provided by a Continental AVDS-1790-2C 750 hp V-12 engine and an Allison CD-850-6/6A power shift cross-drive transmission.
“Jeff Belcher, who works with the governor’s office, was instrumental in helping the academy obtain this tank,” said Kentucky Youth Challenge Foundation board member and Lt.Col. Ralph Souleyret (Retired). “Not only is this an asset to the academy, giving the cadets a chance to experience a bit of U.S. military history, but this is an asset to our county. Many veterans have served throughout the years from Harlan County, and now we have a piece of history where residents may come and actually see a tank. I’m honored to have been a part of this project.”
Also assisting with the project were the Harlan County Road Department and Mountain Supply, donating the use of their equipment, along with Souleyret, staff and cadets at the academy.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510, ext. 115, email@example.com