A Korean War-era tank located by the Veterans Memorial in Bunker Hills Regional Park will be restored by Anoka County.
The exterior of the M41 Walker Bulldog light American tank will be sandblasted and repainted.
According to John VonDeLinde, Anoka County parks and recreation director, the project will start this month and be completed by the Memorial Day weekend, weather permitting.
The Anoka County Veterans Council annually presents two programs the Saturday morning of the Memorial Day weekend, one at 10 a.m. at Morningside Memorial Gardens and the other at the Bunker Hills Regional Park Veterans Memorial at 11:30 a.m. followed by a family picnic.
This year’s remembrance services will take place Saturday, May 25.
“We want to make sure the work is finished in time for the Memorial Day weekend event,” VonDeLinde said.
The facelift will include repainting the tank to its original color, “olive drab,” according to VonDeLinde.
When the tank, which the county acquired and placed at the regional park in 1967, was repainted decades ago, it was given a different color, VonDeLinde said.
“We wanted to repaint it to the appropriate color from the time the tank was in use,” he said.
The project will also include some landscaping, especially in an area where there has been some erosion and soil compaction, VonDeLinde said.
“We want to dress up the site a little bit,” he said.
The project is being paid for by a combination of county park dollars ($3,000) and donations from veterans organizations and others ($5,038), according to VonDeLinde.
The donors will be recognized by a new sign placed adjacent to the tank, which will be part of the restoration project, he said.
The Anoka County Board April 9 approved a resolution accepting the gifts with “grateful appreciation to these various organizations for their generous donations toward the preservation and interpretation of this important military monument.”
Donors included the Blaine VFW, Coon Rapids VFW, Columbia Heights VFW, Circle Pines VFW, Fridley VFW Auxiliary, Ham Lake VFW Auxiliary, Anoka American Legion, Columbia Heights American Legion, Coon Rapids American Legion, Fridley American Legion, Lino Lakes American Legion, DAV Chapter 39 Coon Rapids office, DAV Chapter 39 Auxiliary Coon Rapids office, Korean War Veterans St. Paul office, Anoka Lions Club, Centerville Lions Club, Connexus Energy Ramsey office, Wayne Brittain of Oak Grove and Scott Schulte of Coon Rapids.
The Wikipedia website has information about the history of the tank.
The M41 Walker Bulldog was named for Gen. Walton Walker, who was killed in a jeep accident in Korea in November 1950.
It replaced the M24 Chaffee because although the mission of a light tank was primarily for scouting, the U.S. Army wanted one with more powerful armament and one that was designed to be transported by air.
Production started in 1951 and by 1953, the new tank had completely replaced the M24 in the Army.
The tank, which saw action in both the Korean and Vietnam wars, had a crew of four. Its main armament was a 76 mm M32 gun and it had an operational range of 100 miles at a speed of 45 mph.
In 1969, the U.S. Army began replacing the M41 with the advanced M551 Sheridan armored airborne reconnaissance assault vehicle.
The M41 Walker Bulldog was also acquired by the South Vietnam Army starting in 1965.
The tank has also been exported to Brazil, Spain, Chile, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, New Zealand, the Philippines, Somalia, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Lebanon and other countries.
Many of the tanks were upgraded to prolong their life and some are still in service.
Peter Bodley is at [email protected]