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Tanks at the Railhead

I took this picture in September 1989 at Fort Lewis, Washington. It is a picture of some of my tanks as they are being loaded on railcars preparing for movement. Fort Lewis is a large, beautiful post, but it doesn't have the room for large-scale tank maneuvers or gunnery. Twice a year we loaded the battalion's tanks (54) and other armored vehicles on rail cars and moved them to Yakima Firing Center in central Washington.

In the picture you can see the back of one of the civilian loadmasters inspecting the vehicles. He's looking to make sure the wooden chock blocks are nailed securely in place, both outside the track and inside the track - in and among the road wheels. The tanks themselves are also cabled and chained to the cars, two tanks to a car, with about six inches of track extending over each edge of the car. We did it every year without problem. It is a scary scenario for the drivers, because it appears to them they’ll drive off the edge at any moment. They have to have a lot of faith with the soldiers giving hand and arm signals as he drives on or off the car.

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