The history of the tank that has sat in front of the VFW for the past few decades has been nearly forgotten. Speaking to the men responsible for transporting the tank along with precious little printed information tell the story of the military artifact.
The South Sebastian County Historical Society, which was formed in 1963 by Dr. H.G. Alvarez, was the organization responsible for raising the funds to have the tank brought to Greenwood.
“Dr. Alvarez was a really civic minded guy,” said Brown. “He is the one that made the deal and I volunteered to help haul it in.”
Elmer MacDonald, who was working for Brown at that time, was charged with the task of driving to the Red River Army Depot in Texarkana and bringing the tank home. “The tank is my name,” said MacDonald. “I had to sign for it when I picked it up. I went down with my wife and we had to wait a long time. We had to drive around and sign papers for it and wait for them to seal the barrel up and then they loaded it with a crane.” MacDonald stated that the trailer that he brought was too small for the tank and that large boards had to be added to secure it.
“It was a heavy load,” said MacDonald. “We went down early that morning and I unloaded it that night.”
The Mar. 11, 1971 edition of the Greenwood Democrat had a photo of the tank with the headline “Army Tank Attracts Attention”. Then Editor Earl Dodd wrote, “The Army Tank is proving to be quite an attraction, especially with the children. The tank adds much to the general interest at the museum grounds.”
For years after the tank arrived kids not only climbed on the outside of the tank but were able to get inside, crawl around and pull levers. According to Theresa Burtchett, who editor of the Greenwood Democrat in the 80’s the cap was welded shut for safety reasons. The giant sat in the grocery store parking lot motionless for decades before the VFW took an interest in it once more in Jan. of 2009. The tank was moved to its current position in front of the VFW with the help of Brown. The vets poured a concrete slab, roped it off, added lighting and flag pole. According to VFW Post Commander Richard McKinney, the turret was turned around during the move to a firing position instead of the traveling position that it had been in for 30 years.
Nov. 1, 2014, Levi Taylor with the Boy Scout Troop 54 completed his Eagle Scout Service Project restoring the old tank. Taylor stated that he did his research and the color of the tank was not quite right so he painted the tank more of a forest green and added the name and post number of the VFW.
Taylor said that according to his research the tank is an M41 Walker Bulldog. The Red River Army Depot stated that they did not have any information concerning this specific tank or where it might have seen action.
Since 1971 the tank has been said to have been a World War II era tank but in reality the M41 Bulldog was not produced until 1950’s and was named after General Walton Walker, who was killed in a jeep accident in Korea in November, 1950 according to the Armed Forces History Museum website.
Starting in mid 1951 until mid 1954 Cadillac produced 3,729 Walker Bulldogs. The M 41 was agile and well-armed but was noisy, fuel hungry and its weight caused problems with the desire to transport by air. Current and former countries using the M 41 include Japan (147), Thailand (200), China (675), Denmark (53) and Brazil (300).