Armored vehicles will take charge this weekend as the Army Heritage and Education Center commemorates 100 years of history of the tank in the U.S. military.

Visitors to Army Heritage Days Saturday and Sunday will have the opportunity to watch from the grandstand as privately owned tanks and other vehicles take on a custom-built obstacle course.

“The course will challenge the most skilled crew members as they maneuver on a rock ridge and test their grit as they pass through a mud pit,” said Lindsay Strehl, spokeswoman for USAHEC.

Army Heritage Days runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the facility at 950 Soldiers Drive, Carlisle. Admission and parking is free and open to the public.

The annual living history event features several hundred re-enactors from all eras over the mile-long Army Heritage Trail. Decked out in period uniforms and weapons, living historians will have equipment on display and will be available to talk to the public and answer their questions.

Each year Army Heritage Days centers on a theme. This weekend the focus will be on tanks and armored vehicles and will include a tank course demonstration Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

“Tanks first appeared as part of the U.S. Army when George S. Patton became the first soldier assigned to the newly established Tank Corps in November 1917,” Strehl said. “Ten months later, on Sept. 12, 1918, Lt. Patton led the recently formed 1st Tank Brigade, consisting of 144 Renault tanks, into battle for the first time.

“From their humble beginnings in World War I, armored forces would became an integral part of the U.S. Army during World War II after the Armored Force was created in 1940,” she said. “During the second half of the 20th century, the Armored Forces continue to evolve as they played vital roles in Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War and Desert Storm.”

Vehicles on display this weekend include an M4A3 Sherman Tank, an M18 Hellcat tank destroyer, a Vietnam-era M114 command and reconnaissance carrier, an M901 anti-tank missile vehicle and M109 Paladin self-propelled artillery.

At 1 p.m. on Sunday, Robert Cameron, Army armored historian, will present “Treat ‘Em Rough! The U.S. Army Armor Branch Since the Great War.” Cameron will explain how tanks were a new idea during World War I and how the Army relied heavily on foreign tanks and equipment in the early years of the tank corps.

Cameron will then move to the development of tanks through history and tank technology, culminating with the M1A2 Abrams tank, the heart of the Armored Corps today.

Other features include a veteran meet and greet both days at 3 p.m., the kid’s passport program, a book sale in the museum store and several food vendors.

Email Joseph Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com 

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