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Russian Tank In His Backyard Isn’t Unusual For Man

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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By ED WATERS Jr.
The New-Post of Frederick

UNION BRIDGE, Md. (AP) — For most people, having a Russian tank and an anti-aircraft gun in the backyard would seem unusual. But for Union Bridge resident David Thrasher, it is all just part of his work.

Thrasher cares for 130 animals on his farm on Fountain School Road. He also owns Schoolhouse Repairs and Restorations, restoring antique cars, tractors and military equipment.

“I’m from the Sykesville area, but my wife was from here, and when we married, we bought this farm in 1986. I opened the shop in 1988,” Thrasher said. His wife, Valerie, works for Random House in Westminster.

“I raise bucking bulls for rodeos,” said Thrasher, 52. “But I’m giving that up, going back to beef cattle. I really got hurt a while back,” he said, pointing to his leg.

For years, area residents have been bringing cars as well as historic tractors to Thrasher for restoration.

The military connection came from Thrasher’s friendship with Forrest Taylor, of New Windsor.

Taylor, through personal connections and the Internet, keeps an eye on military equipment when someone is looking to restore it for a museum or, in many cases, a movie.

Thrasher just finished a monthlong project on a World War II 90 mm anti-aircraft gun. It doesn’t fire but has three shells with it.

“It’s going to a memorial for the first black unit in the Marine Corps,” Taylor said. “It will be displayed at Montford Point.”

That was a training base, part of the Camp Lejeune Marine Base, used by black Marines during the war.

Taylor said the gun is worth about $200,000.

“There are no more of these,” Taylor said.

Taylor provides the logistics of finding and moving the equipment to Thrasher’s farm, and Thrasher provides the expertise in everything from mechanical restoration to detailed paint of the equipment.

Not far from the gun is a World War II Russian T-34-85 medium-duty tank.

“It was used in `Saving Private Ryan,’ made up to look like a German Tiger tank,” Taylor said.

“Many people will remember it from the scene where one of the soldiers puts a sticky bomb on the tank,” Taylor said.

The 1943 tank’s value is $1.2 million to $1.4 million, Taylor said.

Thrasher said the tank is needed by spring, with mechanical and camouflage German paint and details for a movie to be filmed in Pennsylvania. The movie will be about SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Michael Wittmann, the top German tank commander during the war, Thrasher said, but he didn’t have details about who is making the movie.

One non-historic aspect of the tank is that part of the metal siding was replaced by rubber for the safety of actors climbing over it, Taylor said. When painted, it will look like the armored section on the original tank.

Thrasher said he earlier restored a 37 mm military gun and some Civil War cannons for museums.

“It really makes us feel good when these are done for a memorial honoring those who served and so everyone can see them,” Taylor said.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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