Black History

Crime & Scandals


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 fly-off-the-handle. but 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, liability, 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 the 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.

The Canaseraga 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 snow and ice. 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 bottom 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 was still early morning.

Just then, down road rumbled a big, big truck with a US Army M60A3TTS Battle Tank. When the truck pulled into the Legion parking 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 direction. 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 lot.

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 didn't’t sink 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 that 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 down 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 Ordway arrived 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 fly-off-the-handle. The 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 about subs.

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 pad 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 Post #846 is proud to be part of the Valley.

Bob Peisher




Canisteo Legion Post Tank





Memorial Brick Garden

Names on Memorial Garden