TROY — What do you get when you mix a military veteran with job that needs done?
The answer is, a job well-done.
Piqua resident Mike Haines learned that a U.S. Army tank that was on display at the Troy VFW Post was in a deteriorated condition. Like many of us, Haines made a statement on social media regarding what he considered to be a sad state of affairs for a United State military vehicle. “I didn’t like what I saw,” said Haines.
Haines is a U.S Army veteran, serving with the 101st Airborne and 3rd Infantry Divisions as an Armor Scout, from 1984-1989. He remains interested in military vehicles and still belongs to the U.S. Army Brotherhood of Tankers. The battalion commander for USABOT, after hearing of the project, agreed to donate the paint if someone would take care of the rest of the cost … and the labor.
Haines, who has already restored a Vietnam-era Jeep, took on the project as a one-man-work force.
Over a period of more than a month, Haines scraped, power-washed, and cleaned the tank, restoring the outside to near showroom condition with a fresh coat of official olive drab green paint, also applied by Haines.
Taking on a project of that size is a true labor of love for Haines, “Oh, an absolute labor of love for me,” said Haines. “There have been nights when I couldn’t sleep, thinking ‘I gotta get down there and get that tank done.”
As he stood near the almost-finished project, Haines said that he feels proud and also vindicated for his early public comments regarding the tank’s condition.
The tank, a M-60 Patton, once the main battle tank of the U.S. Army was produced around 1960. Haines said that the serial number on the hull indicates that the tank at the Troy VFW was one of the early production models and was used as a training tank.
No one seems to know exactly how long the tank has been on display at the VFW but, according the Haines, the fire extinguishers inside the tank were last service by the U.S. Army in 1989.
Officially, the tank still belongs to the government and is considered “on loan” from the Army.
Thanks to Mike Haines, the VFW’s “loaner” tank is once again standing guard, proudly, at the entrance of the Troy VFW Post on LeFevre Road.