written by Adrian Winget
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