Canisteo American Legion Tank
By – Bob Peisher
The US Army M60A3TTS Battle Tank finally came to the Canisteo American
Legion Post #846 on 23 February 2001. The tank was not to make war; but
a memorial and historical display .
Everyone was happy and relieved at the nine-months project's conclusion.
We were proud and happy for, I think, two days. My son Bill
came home one afternoon and his exact words were, “ Dad, now don’t
the tank turret is backwards, if we turn the turret around the gun will
be pointed at the Legion Post front door.”
That ominous conversation came after nine months of planning starting
at a winter meeting, of the Canisteo Legion Post board where Dana Stewart
and Bob Peisher were named project heads.
It was exciting and easy to talk about getting a tank. Actually
making the thought turn into a real tank display was hard work , paperwork,
and patience. We wrote letters of request to the State and National American
Legion Headquarters, the US
Army in Washington
and Tank-automobile and Armament Command in Warren, MI., Army at Fort Drum,
NY, and Silk Roads Heavy Transport, Arkport, NY.
Since the donation of a US Army tank is governed by law and those
letters specify location, charters, pictures, display pad specifications,
transportation, time schedules, and contracts. Including pictures of a
tank pad - that the Legion didn't have yet - so they built one to Army
specs and sent that picture along too.
Even after all that, the Canisteo Post needed New York State Senator
Kuhl. to cut some red tape.
Everything was ready in September and from then on the question of
the day was, “When is the tank coming?” We waited and
waited while the formal letter of request went through channels,
from one office to the next
On 1 November the approval package arrived. for an M60 Tank
coming from Ford Drum. But the legion had to pay for disarming, removal
of the 750 horse motor, the pad, and transport.
Silk Road Heavy Transport near Arkport agreed move the 14-ft,
wide, 100,000-pound war machine to the Canisteo site.
Not until February 2001, did Art at Silk Roads call to tell
us that one of their big trucks was headed north to Fort Drum. If
weather held, the tank would arrive Friday morning the 23rd of February.
On Friday morning a small group of Post members gathered in the parking
lot of the Legion. Most of the members were at their jobs or were absent
by other commitments. Clem Pierce the Village and Town Road crews were –‘on-call’.
A small problem remained - getting a 100,000+ pound
tank from the heavy transport truck to the new tank pad.
American Legion, who had been helping us through the acquisition process,
related their ordeal. When their tank arrived the pad area
was covered with hard packed
Once down the truck ramp, with a tractor, they slid the heavy tank
on to their pad.
It looked like our problem was solved, with one exception. Unfortunately,
tank arrival day the weather was warm and melting. The
Post parking lot was
bone dry and the
nearly 200 feet to the pad wanted to turn into, not slippery grass, but Canisteo
land mud. As I stood with my fellow Legionnaires on that warm morning, a
wish entered my troubled mind. I was wishing that I had highball, but it
Just then, down road rumbled a big, big truck with
a US Army M60A3TTS Battle Tank. When the truck pulled into the Legion
lot I could see
that one of the problems was already solved. If we could pull the tank
down the ramp
from the truck it would not have to be turned around. The tank would be
unloaded from the front of the trailer and the trailer front kneeled
to present an
easy pull. The other good fortune, the gun was already pointed in the right
It was pointed north as if guarding the entrance to Canisteo. I quickly
phoned Clem Pierce and the Town and Village crews. While we were
watching the Silk
Roads driver line up his rig with the tank pad, the parking lot started
to fill with
Canisteo people. Clem arrived with his backhoe, followed by two trucks
with Town and Village help.
By this time the truck was away from the trailer, the trailer had been
knelt down, and the big tank was ready to be pulled on to the dry parking
By this time we were addressing one worry at a time—Could Clem
hook on to the tow cable and pull the M60A down to the parking lot? – If
he could, would the tank then sink into the parking lot? – If it
into the parking lot, could Clem pull it to the edge of the want to be mud-grass,
over the grass area and on to the pad? Along the way I was glad to find that
the gears of the tank were in neutral.
Clem was able to pull the tank down from the trailer and on to the parking
lot. Then he tried to pull it across the parking lot. It was about this time
I could hear the big tank say, “Oh no your not.” Clem’s backhoe
just sat in the parking lot and spun its big wheels. Then Clem unhooked, turned
his backhoe around, put the four stabilizers down, and hooked the tow cable
to the hoe bucked. This time he was able to move the tank with the hydraulic
pull of his machine.
We then stopped for a meeting of the minds. Clem talked and we listened.
He figured that the use of two backhoes would be better than one. Soon Mike
with the Village machine and they were both hooked to the tow cable and working
as a team. It was slow work and they were able to pull the tank, using some
plywood, across the grass and onto the pad.
Everyone was happy and relieved. The nine-month project was near complete.
We were proud and happy for, I think, two days. Then -- My son Bill came
home one afternoon and his exact words were, “ Dad, now don’t
tank turret is backwards, if we turn the turret around the gun will be
pointed at the Legion Post front door.”
He told me the Mike Raner, who knew tanks,
was coming from Hornell and noticed the configuration. It seems that
all tanks are shipped with the turret and gun in the stowed position.
The reason that it
looked “OK” on that Friday morning was simple—Where
were NO Tank Vets present when we unloaded and positioned the M60A.
We had two options: Turn the turret and, forever, have the gun pointed
at the front of the Post. –Or- somehow, turn the tank around and then have the
gun guarding Canisteo. I flew B-52 bombers, if the tank had been an aircraft
I would have known which end was the front. Dave Dieter said the same think
I decided to think about a solution and pray about the problem. It didn’t
take long, Sandy and Repete Sanford, Chris Stewart and other Blades Construction
employee knew what to do. When the ground got a little harder Blades Construction
came to the rescue. One day a very large and powerful looking construction machine
came to the Legion Post. It was polite as it hooked on to the big tank. The huge
machine with it’s expert driver towed the tank into the grass, made a
big circular trip around the grass field, and deposited our tank back on the
facing north. Then we opened the turret and Skeeter Bacon, who knows tanks,
with the help of Mark McMindes, cranked the gun around.
That was 2001 and now, 2008, we have a new Legion Post and impressive
Tank as past of a Memorial Brick Garden. The Canisteo American Legion
to be part of the Valley.