FORT HOOD, Texas – Rolling by Battalion Avenue between T.J. Mills and 56th Street, a glance to the right would reveal what might appear to some people to be a graveyard — a resting place for long-forgotten military vehicles.
Those vehicles have been retired from their days of hauling and transporting Soldiers and equipment, but they are far from forgotten.
Spc. David Vass (bottom) and Spc. Telvin Mathews (top), both with 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, place tape around parts of the M-3 Light Tank “Stuart” prior to painting Sept 24, 2014 at Fort Hood, Texas. Vass, a Tampa, Fla., native and Mathews, a Birmingham, Ala., native, prepped and painted the tank in order to restore it as part of the Adopt-a-Vehicle program at the 1st Cavalry Division Museum. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Brandon Banzhaf, 3rd BCT PAO, 1st Cav. Div.)
The 3rd BCT “Greywolf,” 1st Cavalry Division, is fulfilling its role in restoring and maintaining static vehicles displayed at the 1st Cavalry Division Museum as a part of the Fort Hood Adopt-a-Vehicle program.
“The Adopt-a-Vehicle program provides for the distribution of all historical vehicles among the division's three brigades, the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, and other tenant units on post,” said Steven Draper, director of the 1st Cavalry Division Museum. “It's been a lot of work, but we are beginning to see some great results.”
The 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment from the Greywolf brigade took its turn to replenish the luster that adds to the tradition and history embedded in these vehicles.
“The 3rd Brigade has played a big role with the progress made from the program,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Kirk, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the 1st Cavalry Division Museum. “The 6-9 Cav. is now renovating vehicles.”
As the exhibits live outside and are subjected to weather extremes, they are prone to rust as the paint fades and loses it protective coat.
When searching for parts and conducting repairs, the museum staff focuses on retaining the historic integrity of the vehicles.
“If we have someone weld parts onto a vehicle, we do our best to make sure it's necessary,” said Kirk. “It has to be done right.”
As green is the main color of most every exhibit, the tint is not just a random choice for any vehicle. According to Kirk, the color of each exhibit is determined based upon the era in which the vehicle was produced.
“The paint really pops, and the star is a really crisp white,” said Kirk in reference to the M-41 Light Tank, also known as the “Bulldog” recently restored by 6-9 Cav Soldiers. Soldiers restored it using time period paint to bring out unique features of the vehicle.
According to AR 850-5, dated Aug. 5, 1942, military equipment during that time used a prominent white five-pointed star to symbolize vehicles assigned to tactical units. Even with having to research and duplicate historically accurate colors, the process to paint vehicles is still relatively simple.
“The Soldiers wash the vehicles, tape up certain areas, and paint,” said Kirk. “The only expenses are the supplies, as opposed to hiring contractors like the museum used to do.”
Units send a five-Soldier detail to work at the museum for about five days to complete these tasks.
“It's a great day to be out here working on the vehicles,” said Spc. Telvin Mathews, a Birmingham, Alabama, native and unit supply specialist with 6-9 Cavalry, 3rd BCT. “This is a unique detail to be on.”
Under the supervision and direction of the museum staff, Soldiers focus on the vehicles that need the most work and then move on to others.
“The program can only be successful if dedicated NCOs and junior enlisted crews are willing to take on the project and make it their own,” said Draper.
With help from the 6-9 Cavalry, 3rd BCT, the 1st Cavalry Division Museum is able to maintain and enhance static displays for visitors wanting to experience the richness of its storied history.
By U.S. Army Sgt. Brandon Banzhaf
Provided through DVIDS
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