On Veterans Day, museum dedicates WWII-era Sherman tank

Hy Horowitz, 90 of East Meadow, a driver/gunner

Hy Horowitz, 90 of East Meadow, a driver/gunner of Sherman tanks in the 7th Armored Division in WWII from the Normandy invasion to the end of the war, stands next to a Sherman tank after it was dedicated at the American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport on Veteran's Day. (Nov. 11, 2010) (Credit: Craig Ruttle)

Hy Horowitz walked slowly to the podium outside the American Airpower Museum Thursday, a giant dark-brown World War II-era Sherman tank parked a few feet behind him.

Horowitz, 90, drove a similar Sherman combat tank during the war, from D-Day's Omaha and Utah beaches in Normandy, all the way through France, through the Battle of the Bulge, and on into Germany, as a member of the 7th Armored Division.

"It's deafening," Horowitz told about 200 people outside the museum at Republic Airport in East Farmingdale, which marked Veterans Day by dedicating the Sherman tank.

The tank was recently acquired in the Netherlands by Old Westbury real-estate investor Lawrence Kadish, who will present it at the museum.

"It's hot in the summer, cold in the winter," Horowitz told the gathering. "There's no men's room."

The mission Thursday was to dedicate the tank, which will become part of the museum's collection, which includes fighter planes, bombers and armored vehicles.

The tank, which had been owned by the Netherlands armed forces after World War II, rumbled from behind the museum hangar to a spot a few feet from the audience, the name "Truman's Bark" painted on its side.

More than 40,000 Shermans were built during World War II. Few operational Shermans are left in the United States, and other than at the museum, no others are on public display in the metropolitan area.

Also on hand for the dedication was Guenter Bier, of Hicksville, who was a young boy in Leipzig, Germany, on April 18, 1945, when a Sherman tank rolled into his village and liberated the town.

Bier recalled that he and his mother rushed to an upstairs bedroom and cobbled together a makeshift flag of surrender - a broomstick and a white pillowcase. The tank crew outside the window, he said, smiled.

Kadish declined to say how much he had paid for the Sherman tank. The tank "is meant to be a tribute to the past and also a reminder that the future is not guaranteed," he said.

Museum spokesman Gary Lewi said a price "considerably less" than $500,000 was ultimately negotiated with a nonprofit foundation in the Netherlands, which was in possession of it. Getting the tank required the help of Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), whose aide, Beth Gabellini, spent months working with the U.S. Border Patrol and the State Department, which wanted to make sure it was disarmed.

Lewi said it was not certain whether the tank had been in combat. He said there is damage to its turret, which could mean it saw action.

Horowitz, a docent at the Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center in Glen Cove, said he and his tank comrades - all of whom survived the war - persevered through the heat and the cold.

"We were young," Horowitz said. "We didn't know better. We had a mission."

The Sherman tank

Official name: M4 General Sherman

Number produced: 49,324 between 1942 and 1946

Where used: North Africa, Sicily, Italy, other areas of western Europe and throughout the Pacific

Used by: Americans, British, Canadian and Free French forces

Crew: 5

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