This morning at 9:58 a.m. Erik Barone, 38, and son Chase Barone, 3, watched a piece of Branford history roll down Montowese Street.
About a half dozen members of the Connecticut National Guard lifted and hauled the 12,600-pound iconic M114* Armored Personnel Carrier (locally called The Tank) from its resting spot in front the Armory with plans to relocate it to Camp Niantic.
“I remember when I was his age – I played on this thing,” said Erik as he held Chase in his arms.
“It’s like a landmark,” he added. “You give people directions by the Armored Personnel Carrier.”
Erik who considers himself a military buff also comes from a family of servicemen (his father and brother both served). He said he’s sad that his son will not be able to climb and play on the tank as he did growing up. Eyes glued to the men working to remove the tank, Erik said, “I guess progress sucks.”
Col. John Whitford, Spokesperson for the Connecticut National Guard, said he isn’t sure, off-hand, how old the tank is but does know that its been in front of the Branford Armory for more than 30 years.
Whitford explained that the Connection National Guard is taking Branford’s beloved tank and other pieces of equipment from towns across the state to restore and preserve the state's National Guard history in one place. Branford’s tank, as well as other area combat vehicles and helicopters, will be displayed at the entrance of Camp Niantic, said Whitford. The tank, he added, will be repainted and historical plaque will be created so visitors can learn about it.
As the heavy crane used to lift the tank pulled out of site with the M114 APC on a flatbed, following closely behind, Chase waved goodbye while Erik sighed, “It’s just a slab of concrete now.”
The original story stated that the tank was a M113; it is in fact an M114. Though locally called "the tank" it is not a tank but rather an APC.