WW II-era tank in Griffith
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WW II-era tank in Griffith

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Technically, the WW II-era tank sitting in Griffith's Central Park near the town's war memorial is the M4A1E8 Sherman Medium Tank, but it could just as easily be called the Christenson family tank.

Milford Christenson, founder of Christenson Chevrolet in Highland, spotted an advertisement in the Indianapolis Star in 1958 that the Indiana National Guard was selling 12 surplus tanks for $200.

A Bronze Star recipient as a radio operator in the Battle of the Bulge, Christenson bought a money order in that amount, designating it as from VFW Post 9982 in Griffith, where he was a charter member.

Unfortunately, only government agencies could buy the tanks, not fraternal clubs. Christenson then made out another money order in the town's name. He told Leo Welch, then Griffith's clerk-treasurer, he was buying the war relic and Central Park would be an ideal spot for it.

The tank, manufactured bythe Pacific Car and Foundry Co. near Seattle in the latter stages of World War II, was renovated and repainted in 2009 with new plaques later recounting its history.

Christenson and his wife, Margaret, presented the Town Council with a photo of the refurbished gift early in 2012.

"I had tears in my eyes," Christenson said at the time. "The board went way above the call of duty."

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