BERWICK -- A tribute to one community's effort during World War II is now becoming a reality in Columbia County. The men and women responsible for bringing the "Stuie" Tank home to Berwick have a new mission on their mind as they prepare to open a museum focused on Berwick-built Stuart Tanks and memorabilia.
"We now have a home to properly display it," David Kovach, the president of the Stuart Tank Memorial Association, said.
After a 12-year campaign to "Bring Stuie Home," that dream became a reality in March 2016 when one of the 15,000 tanks built in Berwick during World War II returned to Columbia County. Now, almost a year later, the association is working hard to get the museum up and running on Vine Street and a memorial just across the street.
"It's more like a journey, and it just keeps getting better and better," Kovach said.
The association was actually able to get the "Stuie" Tank up and running so it will go out to community events and parades. They hope to get two more tanks to put on display in the museum and in the memorial.
"My smile should let you know how I feel. I'm so excited and proud to do this. I can't even talk," Kovach said.
The Central Susquehanna Community Foundation is giving the building to the "Stuie" Association.
"They have garnered so much community support that we know that the future of the Stuart Tank Memorial will be assisted by our community because we've already seen it happen," said President and CEO of the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation Holly Morrison.
Craig Shepperly's father was drafted by the Marines during World War II because of his work on the Stuart Tanks in Berwick. He worked hard to bring "Stuie" home, although he passed about a year before it happened. Shepperly says he wishes his dad could see what is happening now.
"Even at 94 or 95 years old, he'd probably be doing cartwheels down the building. He'd be more than excited. He'd be ecstatic," Shepperly said.
An official grand opening date has not yet been set, but everyone involved is anxious to show the community what they have come up with.
"It really is an exciting history lesson when you jump into it," Morrison said.
Members of the Stuart Tank Memorial Association say they are looking for memorabilia. If you'd like to donate, you can find them on Facebook, visit their website, or contact the association at (570) 350-9675.