EATON — The M4A3 Sherman tank, referred to affectionately as “Miss Preble,” is coming back to town in September, according to city officials.
The tank will be displayed at Fort St. Clair, where many may have seen the ground has already been broken and some concrete poured. The celebration is tentatively planned for Sept. 23.
The tank was housed in front of the Armory since 1957, as a gift to honor WWII veterans and those serving in the Korean War. However, the tank was taken away by the Ohio National Guard on April 18, 2012. Eaton native Tina Marker started a group to bring the tank back to town and she had the support and help of Eaton resident and veteran Ernie Root.
The two teamed up to found Preble County Heritage.
In September 2014, the Armory was bought by a private citizen, but the group was still determined to bring back the tank, even if they could not place it at the Armory.
Preble County Heritage submitted a preliminary application to TACOM in 2015 to request the tank’s release. The application was denied. The group began working on other projects, but Marker had personal reasons for fighting for the tank’s return.
This year she was able to form a relationship with an Ohio National Guard retiree and made connections needed to get the conditional approval.
Root and Marker approached Eaton City Council to see if the city was interested in accepting the military loan of the tank for placement at Fort St. Clair. Resolution 17-31 to support Preble County Heritage was adopted the same evening. An extensive application package was submitted to the United States Army Donation Program requesting the conditional loan of the tank be granted to Eaton. In July, the group and council was notified, with certain requirements met, Eaton’s tank would be allowed to come back home.
Work has already begun to prepare for Miss Preble’s return. There will be a new pad, lighting, flagpole, access drive, and parking.
The group announced the good news on Friday, Aug. 18, and the following Monday, Aug. 21, the issue was brought in front of city council once again.
Resolution 17-36 was proposed, accepting the conditional loan of military equipment and authorizing the city manager to execute all documents and work, necessary to comply with the qualification requirements for the return of the M4A3 Sherman Tank. Council unanimously voted to approve the resolution.
“Things are moving very well, we have had buzz ever since ground broke over at Fort St. Clair,” Marker said. “This weekend we spent a lot of time getting the news out there. It was great over the weekend spreading the news and sharing event invitations, which is on Sept. 23, at 11 a.m. It’s going to be a great homecoming and we are very excited.”
Root added, “Without your support and without the community’s support, this would have been a cross we would have had a hard time bearing. You guys stepped up, said you would help, and you did. As far as I’m concerned, you guys are great. Your help is greatly appreciated.”
“We would not be here today if you guys had not stayed committed,” Mayor Dave Kirsch replied. “You did what you set out to do. We applaud you for being steadfast and staying committed to seeing this to fruition.”