Thumper's Story

written by Adrian Winget
VMPA Treasurer

Born of fire at the Baldwin Locomotive Works around 1941/42, I trained with my crew and eventually shipped out to England. Passing through France, Belgium, and Germany, I protected my crew and fought hard for my country. The war was won, and I was shipped home to the United States to train soldiers in loading and unloading cargo ships until I wasn't heavy enough to match the more modern tanks.

I was reassigned to range duty as a target to train soldiers in the use of anti-armor weapons, letting them fire at me all day until they gave up. I must have had several hundred thousand soldiers hone their skills with me over the many years I remained at my post.

The Army Engineers tried a demolition charges, occasionally bouncing me around and shaking my duty position, but they ultimately failed. Although I lost a little weight (hatches/turret/engine) here and there, I was still serving proudly as the day I was made.

Word came to clean up the range and as my final hour loomed, the Virginia Military Preservation Association (VMPA) came to my rescue with just 9 minutes to spare before I was to be torched into scrap metal for my country's former enemies, now allies, to make Toyotas, Mercedes, or toasters. Now I am finally retired after 62 years of service and with the dedicated love of a few individuals, I will have my tattered edges trimmed, gear replaced and new paint applied.

Oh, I might have to be wheeled around to shows on a truck and stay immobile for many years to come, but when I see the spark in some old tanker's eyes and the children running about with excitement, I know I’m in much better hands now, and I’m proud to keep serving as a teacher of history.

To those wondering how I got the name "Thumper", that is all I've heard over the past 40 years: thump ... (pause)...baroom!!!.... The sound M203 and M79 grenade launchers make when fired. Thank heavens those days are behind me!

Thumper's Restoration Progress


 

Thumper's Story Continues

Written by Adrian Winget

Thumper was looking sad with only her turret housing on, so I assembled a few pieces to replicate the main gun and machine gun in the shop, then used the VMPA’s M543A2 Wrecker to lift and install them. MUCH more like a real tank now! The next mission will be to attack the track, perhaps.