The M56 “Scorpion,” displayed at Garrard Park in Paris, Kentucky for 40+ years, will be dedicated this Saturday, September 15, at 10 am at Forest Hill Station in Millersburg (formerly Millersburg Military Institute). The ceremony is free and open to the public.
Additionally, the first recruits of the recently-opened Forest Hill Military Academy will take the Oath of Enrollment. Also, the Silver Rifles Drill Team, from St. John's Northwestern Military Academy, in Wisconsin, will perform. All of this is happening during Millersburg's annual Chituaqua Days celebration.
The City of Paris voted last year to transfer custody of the Scorpion – often mistakenly referred to as a “tank,” but actually an Airborne Self-Propelled Anti-tank Gun (SPAT) – to the U.S. Army Cadet Corps (USAC), due to its condition, as well as maintenance concerns. The M56 had been the site of a large amount of graffiti in its final months in the park.
Wayne Supply Company’s branch in Ashland, Kentucky, agreed to move the 16,000 lb vehicle, and refurbished it to its original appearance. The Wayne Supply Company donated its services in honor of the men and women of Kentucky who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
The Department of Defense produced the M56 in the 1950s to provide paratroopers of the 101st and 82nd Airborne with a weapon that could be airdropped by eight parachutes into a war zone.
The M56 had a crew of four Soldiers (a driver, commander, loader and gunner) and traveled up to 28 mph, with a range of up to 125 miles. The M56, which was also used by the armies of Morocco and Spain, was removed from the American inventory in the 1960s. Approximately 30 remain today, most are on public display.
“We’re very proud to preserve and protect this importance piece of American history,” said Brigadier General Charles R. Tornow, the Corps’ Commanding General. “We are honored to display the M56 on Forest Hill Station as a tribute to the men and women of the Commonwealth of Kentucky – and especially those of Bourbon and Nicholas Counties – who have served in our nation’s uniform.”
WO1 Steve Biggers, Public Affairs Assistant for the U.S. Army Cadet Corps, has been the Project Officer for the transfer of the M56 for the past 15 months. He has coordinated everything from the transfer of custody to painting to final delivery today at Forest Hill Station.