Marvin Walder/The Broadside
Those who don’t regularly travel through Redmond, OR might be surprised at first when they suddenly end up face to face with an unknown 50-ton steel behemoth. These massive armored vehicles are actually M60A3 Main Battle Tanks that are parked as memorials to the veterans that served with them. There are two of these tanks in Redmond, one in front of the National Guard Armory on Highland Ave, and one in front of the Redmond VFW on Veterans Way. The tanks have an interesting history, and an equally interesting situation surrounding their display.
The M60 series of tanks was the United States’ second generation of Main Battle Tanks. Developed off of the M-48 Patton, the M60 tanks utilized the improved firepower of a British 105mm main gun in combination with refinements in ergonomics, armor, drive train, and crew safety. The M60 tanks also featured the iconic M19 commander’s cupola, which gave the commander of the tank 360-degree vision around the vehicle along with a stabilized machine gun for defense against light targets. Another main feature of the M60 series is that they are very modular and upgradeable, allowing them to be retrofitted with new technology to keep them competitive on the battlefield. The M60 tanks served through the majority of the Cold War and fought until after Operation Desert Storm, where the US opted in favor of the much more modern M1 Abrams line. While the United States retired the M60 series of tanks from active service by 1997, many other countries continue to operate modernized M60 tanks in active service around the globe.
Both tanks that are parked in Redmond are the M60A3 variant, which is an upgraded model produced from 1978-1983. According to Mike at the Redmond VFW, the tank that they have had parked out front for 6 years actually served in active duty long ago. While its exact service location may be lost, it most likely served in the Gulf War of 1991 due to its forest camouflage scheme and the fact that the Gulf War was where the United States’ largest deployment of M60 tanks happened. The tank itself has been completely decommissioned and demilitarized, meaning that its weapons have been rendered inoperable and the vehicle has been rendered immobile. The tank has also had its barrel and hatches welded shut to prevent any tampering with the internals of the vehicle. Interestingly, the tank is still owned by the US Army. The VFW is merely leasing the vehicle for display purposes, and they had to construct a platform for it as well as pay for shipping from an Army base in Washington. The VFW has to also report on the vehicle’s condition and location yearly, talk about a big responsibility.
For those who are veterans or are interested in military history, these vehicles are worth a visit. They show the sheer scale and engineering that goes into creating armored vehicles and bring more awareness to the people that operated them. Considering the weight and size of the vehicles, it’s unlikely that they’ll be going anywhere for the time being. So they’ll probably be sticking around for fans of armored vehicles to admire.