Fort Polk engineer battalion uncovers WWII-era tank

PINEVILLE (AP) — An engineer battalion from the Fort Polk Army base that has been clearing land for a small arms range at the National Guard’s Camp Beauregard in Pineville has uncovered a World War II-era tank.

Richard Moran, the curator for the Camp Beauregard Louisiana Military Maneuvers Museum, said the tank is either an M2A4 or an M3 Stuart tank. Moran says it is one of the earliest tanks mass produced for World War II.

The tank is small by Army tank standards. It holds only three soldiers. It had been converted for non-military use and was likely used as a tractor after the war.

It was discovered by the 687th Engineer Company, 46th Engineer Battalion, First Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.

“It had no armor on the front and no guns in the turret,” Moran said. “The guns could have been removed, or it could have been one that never had a gun because it was used for maneuvers.”

The tank is now in storage at Camp Beauregard, and Moran is researching its history. Restoration is planned but Moran said there is no way to estimate how long it will take.

“It’s going to be a wonderful journey,” he said. “Our sister museum at Jackson Barracks (New Orleans) has an M5, which is a later war tank. If this tank is an M2A4, if it’s the earlier version, it will really be unique. There weren’t that many of them made. But, if it’s an M3, there were 15,000 to 20,000 of them made.”

Regardless of the type, the tank is still an important part of Louisiana’s military history.

“It’s a model of a tank used during the time of the Louisiana Maneuvers,” Moran said. “And, it’s an example of a tank that was demilitarized. I’ve never seen (a demilitarized tank). That’s enough for me.”

One of the soldiers who discovered the tank was 2nd Lt. G’Nelle Franklin, who said she believes her battalion made an important contribution to history.

“I can’t wait to come back here and see it at the museum,” she said.

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