BERWICK — Tanks for the memories.
From 1940 to 1944, about 9,135 employees at the Berwick Foundry built thousands of Stuart tanks for the U.S. Army and Marines and for the Lend-Lease Program for the Allies.
One of those tanks is coming home for a visit.
Tom McLaughlin of the Stuart Tank Committee of the Berwick Historical Society has arranged for a 1942 Stuart M3A1 Light Tank to visit the Berwick Area March 22-24.
The tank is currently owned by Steve Greenberg of Wilsonville, Ore., and is fully restored and in perfect running condition. McLaughlin said the committee has arranged for its visit to Berwick as a tribute to the people of the region who contributed so much to the war effort.
“Stuart tanks are a huge part of Berwick history and economy,” McLaughlin said.
Fred Shepperly, a World War II veteran living in Berwick, will ride the tank in the Columbia County Bicentennial Parade in Bloomsburg on March 23. Shepperly worked at the foundry and was drafted into the Marine Corps specifically to work on the Stuart tanks in the Pacific Theater, McLaughlin said.
Greenberg’s Stuart Tank is one of 15,224 Light Tanks built by the American Car & Foundry — almost all at the Berwick Foundry — from 1940 to 1944. The tank is Serial no. 10103 produced in Berwick in December 1942.
McLaughlin said as part of the Arsenal of Democracy and Lend-Lease Program the tanks saw action with the British Army in Asia, the Pacific and North Africa and with the Russian Army on the Eastern Front well ahead of the U.S. entrance into the war. By the end of the war, the tanks had seen service in every Allied army and every theater of war from the Aleutians to Antarctica.
McLaughlin said the tank will arrive March 21 or 22 and will be placed at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds. He said the committee has been trying to acquire a Stuart to put on permanent permanently display if one made in Berwick can be located.
In addition to participating in the Columbia County Bicentennial Parade, the tank will be on display at the fairgrounds as part of the Columbia County Bicentennial Exhibits after the parade.
On March 24 the tank will make its return visit to Berwick. From 2 to 4 p.m. it will be on display at the Test Track Riverfront Park on South Eaton Street. McLaughlin said the park derives its name from its use as the testing grounds for newly fabricated tanks before to their shipment to the Ordinance Department.
The event is free to the public, courtesy of the Stuart Tank Committee and the Borough of Berwick.
McLaughlin said he reviewed records from the American Car & Foundry in Berwick that showedemployees from 177 municipalities throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania. He said the Stuart Tank Committee extends a special invitation to those who worked at ACF – Berwick, particularly those who help build the Arsenal of Democracy.
World War II veterans are especially welcome at this event, as are all veterans.
In addition to the tank, various historic photos and memorabilia will be on display. McLaughlin said the Stuart will make take a memorial lap around the Test Track to honor those who built them.
“At the close of this event, the Stuart tank will fire a salute to those who fought and died in the Stuart tank,” McLaughlin said.