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Collection of tanks a tribute to those who used them

Kurt Hildebrand, special to the Appeal

If functional, the six fighting vehicles sitting near Edmonds and Fairview drives would be a nasty surprise for an enemy approaching Carson City from the east.

The three tanks, a mobile anti-aircraft gun, a missile launcher and a mortar platform are a “historical tribute to the soldiers, who have served in the Nevada National Guard and the vehicles they’ve used,” said Col. Aaron Kenneston, who is in charge of logistics for the National Guard’s State Area Command.

“I get the sense that history is slipping away from us,” said Kenneston, a Dayton resident and 23-year member of the Guard.

When the display is finished, it will be someplace where National Guard veterans can take their children and show them the vehicles they drove.

According to Kenneston, some of the vehicles were rescued from Navy and Air Force bombing ranges.

A Carson City native, Chief Warrant Officer Larry Ceragioli has driven all but one of the vehicles in the display.

He served in the Navy for four years before returning to Carson City, where he joined the National Guard at his father’s encouragement.

“My dad talked me into it,” he said.

Only two months from retirement age, “Chief” Ceragioli has worked with military vehicles most of his adult life.

However, he has no intention of retiring just yet.

Ceragioli says there are only two ways to get into a tank.

“My way and the wrong way.”

The oldest of the vehicles is the “Duster,” the only one Ceragioli hasn’t driven.

A self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, the combat vehicle was used by Nevada’s 1st Battalion from 1954 to 1968.

A Sheridan light tank and the Fast Track Mortar Carrier both joined Nevada’s inventory in 1968, the year the Duster was retired.

The Sheridan is a reconnaissance vehicle still used by the 82nd Airborne. Nevada’s version served with the 116th Cavalry from 1968 to 1975. The mortar carrier is a modified M113A1 personnel carrier, which was a platform for a 4.2-inch and later a 120 mm-mortar. It served with the 116th Cavalry, the 163rd Cavalry, 221st Armor and the 221st Cavalry.

Introduced to Nevada in 1975, the Patton main battle tank served in Nevada for 20 years until 1995. It was manufactured for 20 years, beginning in 1959, then was replaced by the queen of the display, the M1A1 Abrams.

The big tank has served with the National Guard since 1995. Ceragioli says it is at once both the best tank and most cantankerous of the group.

Powered by the same gas turbine engine used in helicopters, the Abrams is a superior tank, according to Ceragioli.

It also relies on electronics for many of its functions, something that can be frustrating when things go haywire.

“If something goes wrong with the others, you can fix it with bailing wire and gum,” he said.

The sixth vehicle is another modified personnel carrier, carrying wire-guided missiles, which served in the 82nd Cavalry from 1988 to 1992 and the 221st Armor from 1992 to 1995.

Before they could be used for the display, the vehicles were rendered inoperable. Their engines were removed, hatches welded shut, and the gun breeches sealed. No “More Amazing Tank Rampages” for these former fighting vehicles. They weren’t even driven onto the concrete pad.

“We pushed them as far as we could with another tank, then we had Shaw Construction come out with their big crane and pick them up and put them in place,” Ceragioli said.

It took about six months to bring the museum to its current location. Officials hope to open it to the public soon, but don’t want to speculate about exactly when.

The vehicles are within sight of National Guard Adjutant General Giles Vanderhoof’s office.

Breakout

Tank tribute includes:

M1A1 Abrams main battle tank

M60A3 Patton main battle tank

M551A1 Sheridan reconnaissance vehicle

M42 Duster Twin 40 mm self-propelled gun

M901 Hammerhead TOW launch vehicle

M1064A1 Fast Track mortar carrier