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Everyday Heroes: National Guard Tank Unit [VIDEO]

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CAMP RIPLEY — On the battle field there is nothing more terrifying then looking down the barrel of a tank. These 70 ton monsters can pack quite the punch in the heat of battle.

While watching from the sidelines, tanks seem easy to operate, but as the soldiers at Camp Ripley will tell you, they are a lot of work.

“It’s a lot of hard work, the loaders are moving pretty good and making sure they clear out of the way because the breech will slide back pretty far,” says 1st Lt. Nathan Burdick.

There are four soldiers that fit inside one take all with a different job.

There is the driver who operates where the tank moves, a loader who fills the main gun of the tank, a gunner who is on lookout, and a tank commander who is in charge of the whole vehicle.

“So everyone has a very specific job,” says 1st Lt. Burdick. “You really only have a couple seconds of exposure to get your shot.”

When out training, the tank becomes a soldiers bed. With training at all hours of the night preparing for any situation there really isn’t a chance to head to the dorms, so the tank can because your bed.

However, before a tank is ready to fire on the range there is a lot of routine prep work that has to take place first.

“It takes a lot to get your tank up and running maintenance wise before you can go an actually fire rounds,” says Joe Sumers. “You can spend three to four days getting ready to shoot a half hour of rounds.”

But to operate these complex vehicles can be tricky, thats why being proficient and precise are vital.

“You have to be proficient in your tasks you have to be discipline,” says 1st Lt. Burdick. “It’s a lot of hard work to be able to get down range and qualify.

See Other WJON Everyday Heroes Stories


Solider practices with tanks. (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON News)


“Everyday Heroes” is a weekly WJON News feature spotlighting those who put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe.

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