The President’s Corner: A homecoming for ‘Sabine Sally’

In a few weeks Sabine Sally will be returned to the Norwich campus. Since December, 2010, the tank has been in New Jersey being refurbished. Once completed it will be ready to stand guard at the newly renovated Sabine Field and serve as an important reminder of our history well into the next century.

Sabine Sally is one of the famed M4 tanks which helped the 2nd Armored Division earn the name, “Hell on Wheels.” The tank was built by Ford in November, 1942. Although Sally herself never saw action, tanks just like her were employed in all theaters of World War II.
Sally sat in storage for more than 15 years, until 1958, when then President MG Ernest N. Harmon decided to procure a Sherman tank as a memorial to the more than 1,600 Norwich men who had served in the war. That summer the tank was brought by rail to Northfield from Camp Drum in Watertown, N.Y., and delivered to the northwest corner of the Upper Parade ground. In July it was dedicated “to the Norwich men who served in the Armored Forces in World War II” by Medal of Honor Recipient Captain James M. Burt, who had served under Harmon in the 2nd Armored Division.
In his dedication speech, Captain Burt first referred to the M4 as an “ugly hulk,” but then called it “an offensive weapon manned and directed by offense-minded men.”
Over the years, the elements have taken their toll on Sally, which sat idle on Sabine Field for decades after being moved from her original location to make room for the construction of Gerard Hall in 1963.

Thanks to the generous support of Larry Costa (NU’80) the tank was sent to Mil-Spec Vehicle Restorations in Belvidere, New Jersey, where it is being professionally restored.

Some of the work being done as part of this project includes repainting the tank, straightening and replacing all brackets that are bent or missing, and installing new headlights and tail lights and bow and co-axial machine gun barrels. In addition to these exterior restorations, Sabine Sally’s hatches will be welded shut for safety reasons. Four steel stands will be placed under the vehicle once she is placed back on Sabine Field, which will help prevent the springs from collapsing over time.

Sabine Sally represents an important part of our armored cavalry heritage, and is a permanent reminder of the significant contributions made by Norwich alumni in World War II. It is my hope that when the tank is returned to campus, we will hold a great party to mark the event. Please watch for announcements about this celebration in the next few weeks.

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