‘It looks absolutely stunning’: New Milford rededicates historic tank on Green
NEW MILFORD — It took a matter of days for the historic Army tank on the Village Green to be restored to new glory.
The popular historic relic was rededicated Saturday at a ceremony attended by those involved in the restoration process, along with a group of residents whose interest had been piqued in days prior by a tent covering the tank while work was being done.
“The tank has been a symbol in this town for decades,” Mayor Pete Bass said at the ceremony before thanking all those involved for their time and donations.
Veteran Paul Murphy headed the project, having first sought the public’s help to restore the tank via a social media post. Murphy first heard from Howie Hammer, who operates an auto body shop in town. He joined Murphy as a team leader and was also lead painter.
Numerous other individuals, businesses and organizations contributed through time, skills and monetary donations, collaborating with the Parks & Recreation Department and the Parks & Rec Commission.
“I love it,” Jim Delancy, commander of the Andrew B. Mygatt VFW Post 1672, said at the ceremony. “It is a great honor to see the pride the town has and the team (who did the work) has to get this done.
State Rep. Bill Buckbee, R-67, recalled playing on the tank as a child, like thousands of other children throughout the decades.
“In all these years, I’ve never seen it look so amazing,” he said of the tank. “It looks absolutely stunning.”
Buckbee and American Legion Commander Jeff McBreairty expressed their gratitude to the volunteers who stepped up to tackle the project.
“What’s amazing about New Milford is our volunteers come from everywhere and bring their talents,” Buckbee said.
In recent years, the tank’s paint began peeling, leaving rusty spots that could have caused injury to those who climb it.
The Stuart M3A1 tank, which arrived in town in 1947, was sandblasted down to metal and received two layers each of primer and ultraviolet, no-fade paint.
The paint alone cost just under $4,000, all of which was donated by local vendors, Murphy said.
Bass said Scouts restored the tank in in 2005 and 2011, but neither time included as thorough of a restoration process as this time. The mayor extended his appreciation to all Scouts who have helped maintain the icon on the Green over the years.
Bob Thomas, a member of the Abrams Company, 4th Battalion of the U.S. Army Brotherhood of Tankers, visited the Green during the restoration process and stenciled the stars on the tank.
The Brotherhood of Tankers preserves and publicizes the history of the United States Army Armored Forces and other related services. Members travel around the country to locate and research the history of all tanks, and lend assistance to towns for restoration work. The group also restores tanks.
Thomas said he was impressed with the town’s collaborative project, bringing together veterans, businesses, the community and its residents.
“And when you had the sandblaster come in, you upped the quality,” he said of the work that was done on the New Milford tank.
Murphy is working with the Brotherhood of Tankers to piece together a complete history of the tank because some inaccuracies have been shared over the years.
Among those who contributed to the tank restoration project were: Howie; Murphy; Bass; Hammer; Alfredo Esposito, chairman of the New Milford Parks & Recreation Commission; Parks & Recreation Director Dan Calhoun; Jack Healy and Mike Boucher of New Milford Department of Public Works; Peter Efthimiatos, of PTG Media Blasting and Surface Restoration Service; Roy Waterhouse; Frankie Cameron; Kevin Ford; Ken Gills; Matthew Johnson; Patrick Lillis; Jeff Kozo; Lisa and Rick Agee of Goatboy Soaps; Paul Hilario of Hilario’s Recovery Service; Donna and Andy Kozo of JBM Carting; Peter Mirkhani, Northeast Tent Productions; New Milford Youth Agency Director Jason O’Connor; and Boy Scout Troops 31, 58 and 432.