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People Rally To Bring Back Their Tank!

People rally to bring back tank

Updated: Monday, 28 May 2012, 7:13 PM EDT
Published : Monday, 28 May 2012, 7:13 PM EDT
EATON, Ohio (WDTN) - Memorial Day just wasn't the same in Eaton this year.

Sure the salute was sharp, the wreath in the water as beautiful as ever, and the band stayed in step, but in that patriotic panorama, something was missing.

"It'd be about the same as if somebody took your mother's tombstone off the grave," says veteran Maurice Duggins. "You would miss that."

For more than 50 years the armory in Eaton was guarded by a tank.

Lieutenant Colonel J.J. Wikle never forgot that day he helped park it at what he thought would be its final resting place.

"I drove the damn tank down here, from the storage building we had," Wikle told 2 NEWS back in April.

But more than a month ago, the tanks turret and treads were tugged out of town by the Ohio National Guard.

The armory in Eaton had already been closed, now the tank was going with it.

"I think not enough people knew it was happening beforehand," says veteran Bob Allison. "It came out of nowhere."

So those in Eaton decided to fight for the tank that had once fought for them.

They passed around petitions, signed their name on the silhouette now filling the tank's spot and shouted their message from the steps of the old armory.

"People are so proud of that tank and it's always served as such a landmark in this area," says Tina Marker, who's helping to organize the campaign.

Everybody wants to help, even 7-year-old Kaylee who noticed the tank missing and donated a small wooden one.

"She said she knew someone who needed a tank," says her dad Jeff Manning. "She was a little disappointed because she wanted to paint it green first since the old one was green."

But the tank wasn't the only thing missing on Memorial Day.

A few days after it was taken J.J. Wikle had to be hospitalized. Two weeks ago he died.

Many feel the stress from the taking of the tank led to his downward slide.

"It took a piece of him," says his son, Earle Paul Wikle. "To him this was something of a historical nature for the community and for the veterans who served here."

So now, a town is missing two of its monuments.

On Memorial Day, when it's all about remembering, those in Eaton refuse to forget.

So they fire salutes and they weave wreaths and they march on.

"This is a huge piece of our heritage," Marker says. "We just want it back."

Organizers plan on applying to get that tank back, if not in its old spot in front of the armory, then at least somewhere in Eaton.

Watch the video here:

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