LYNDONVILLE - The Tank that sits outside of the Lyndonville National Guard Armory is not only a decorative piece, it's also a symbol of what used to be. The Armory wasn't always what is today; it used to serve as something different than an infantry unit with a focus on mountain warfare. About 20 years ago, the armory transitioned into an infantry unit, which is when they stopped keeping and using tanks. However, the Unit kept and still use a number of wheeled military vehicles.
The old Brigade used to maintain and train using M60 Patton tanks during the Vietnam Era and in the 1980’s when they upgraded to the M1 Abram tanks (The U.S military still uses those style of tanks today). The Lyndonville Brigade was revered for their ability to keep, maintain and train with tanks from the 1950's into the early Nineties
Current Lyndon State public Safety officer Charlie Forrest started his years of service in the U.S Army.
“Dessert storm broke out, and I wanted to go over and help, so I signed up with the Army.” Said Forrest.”
However, after four years of service including being re-stationed and involved in live firefights overseas, Forrest wanted to settle down and start a family, so he joined the Vermont National Guard in Lyndonville. This is where he was able to experience first hand the exquisite tank program the Armory had, and he even got to drive a M1 Abram tank!
Forrest served for 21 years in the National Guard in Lyndonville before retiring and becoming a college public safety officer. During those 21 years Forrest saw part of the evolution of the Armory from what it was to what it is now.
"It just represents a lot, you know? It’s not just a tank it has a lot of meaning to it and tells you a lot about the unit.” Said Forrest.
The tank represents the old brigade’s proud past. The tank itself is a Vietnam era M60 Patton tank, which was stationed at the armory when it was active. However, now the tank is gutted, disarmed and the barrel is pointing downwards to indicate that it is no longer active. The old M60 Patton tank is now a tourist attraction, relic, and a reminder of what once was.
Today, the Lyndonville Armory houses mountain combat infantry and other mountain warfare specialties. These units, when Federally activated, have served within and alongside the regular Army’s 10th mountain division from Fort Drum, New York. Vermont Guard soldiers have completed multiple combat tours to Afghanistan where combat mountain infantry units patrol the super high, rugged and remote mountains of that deadly country.
The people of Vermont know and respect their so-called "citizen soldiers." This term today is somewhat misleading however. The state guards have been federally activated for decades since the Army went from a selective service draft to an all-volunteer force in the 1970's. Our so called "citizen soldiers" originally answered almost solely to the Governors of their individual states.
Now they serve repeated combat tours overseas or perform dangerous peace keeping duties in areas of the former Yugoslavia. Vermonters have died and been crippled as members of the guard in all of our recent Middle Eastern military interventions. The Armory is a very special place in Lyndonville.