Vietnam-era tanks continue to meet military need

USAF photo: Airman 1st Class James Bell Staff Sgt. Geraldo Valdez, foreground, 27th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron, and Airman Basic Jake Jordan, 27 SOLRS, unchain an M-42 Duster tank at the Melrose Air Force Range on Feb. 18.

By Airman 1st Class James Bell: 27th SOW Public Affairs

Two M-42 Duster tanks moved from the Army National Guard Armory in Clovis to their new home at Melrose Air Force Range on Feb. 13 and Feb. 18 with the help 27th Special Operations Logistics Readiness and 27th Special Operations Support Squadron airmen.

The Army National Guard in donated the tanks to help Cannon in its efforts to find practice targets to place on Melrose Air Force Range. In 2008 Gerry Foisie, MAFR manager, sent a letter to the New Mexico National Guard headquarters in Santa Fe, requesting the two M-42 Dusters that were mothballed at the ARNG Armory in Clovis. One of the tanks will be set aside at the range as a static display to honor the contributions of the Clovis ARNG. The other tank will be placed within the Spirit impact area of the MAFR to serve as a target for special operations aircraft such as the AC-130H Spectre gunship.

“We saved a total of $1,800 moving the tanks to the range instead of using a contractor,” said Staff Sgt. Anthony Labrecque, 27 SOLRS.

A group of airmen from the 27 SOLRS, including Master Sgt. Patrick Barragan, Staff Sgts. Anthony Labrecque and Geraldo Valdez, Airman 1st Class Jonathan Cromack, and Airman Basic Jake Jordan, helped transport the practice targets.

M-42 Dusters have been mothballed at Army National Guard units throughout the United States since the early 1970s. Both the Fox and Echo Companies from Clovis and Portales National Guard Armories used the M-42 Duster during Vietnam. The Duster was originally designed for armored light air-defense, but was used against unarmored ground forces in Vietnam. They were operated by four-to-six man crews with two 40 mm fully automatic cannons mounted in the turret, and were capable of firing 240 rounds per minute.

According to Foisie, this history associated with M-42 Dusters of the Clovis ARNG will eventually be captured in a static display sponsored by the range operations office.

“We appreciate the Clovis Army National Guard and for their contribution toward furthering the AFSOC mission and training requirements here at,” said Mr. Foisie. “And not to mention the great support we’ve received from other base agencies like the 27th SOLRS.”