MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — One man is celebrating Memorial Day by sharing a big piece of history with local veterans. He enjoys restoring old vehicles, and in this case, a 42-ton Sherman Tank that was used in World War II.
While he loves putting it on display, he says what he likes even more, is having servicemen and women stop by and share their stories.
65-year-old Roger Valachovics appreciates our veterans and has chosen to honor the fallen in a hands-on way, and in the driver’s seat.
“It’s a super Sherman, and I actually bought it from Israel,” said Valachovics.
Valachovics bought it in 1989 and had it shipped over to the United States. It came into Mississippi, but then he had to get permission for it to make it through every state until it got to Michigan. Upon it’s arrival into the United States, he had to have the ATF there to make sure it wouldn’t operate as a weapon.
Valachovics decided to purchase an army tank after he decided to sell off part of his hot rod collection, another long time hobby of his.
“I was worried about someone breaking in or stealing them, so I told my wife I am going to sell these. So I started selling them off and I had a big pocket full of money,” said Valachovics.
He used that big pocket of money to purchase something he always wanted as a child: a 42 ton army tank, and he’s found a lot of uses for it.
“We knocked down all kinds of trees, we pulled out stumps with it,” he said.
He even taught his son how to drive a stick shift with it.
“I wasn’t letting him drive my hot rod cars or anything so I said hey the tank has got a stick in it, so he climbed in there and I showed him how to drive a stick.”
But the best part for Valachovics is holidays like Memorial Day, where he brings it out to share with our veterans, and to help kids and families remember what this day really means for Americans.
“That’s really the best part of the whole thing is hearing these little stories that they have, and they are all different, some are comical some are about war and everything and casualties. It's always different, you know?”
So whether people are stopping to take a picture, or jump inside to experience it themselves, Valachovics and his tank are here to help you remember why we celebrate Memorial Day in thanks to those who've served to protect our freedom.
Valachovics brings out the tank on the 4th of July as well. He believes the last time it was used was in 1976 in a 6 day battle between Israel and Egypt.