When 22-year-old Jonathan Roberge was killed by a suicide bomber while driving his M60-A3 tank in Iraq on Feb. 9, 2009, his parents wanted to honor his memory in a unique way.
The Leominster, Mass., couple fought for permits, battled for Army permission and ultimately constructed a park — complete with an actual M60 tank, a bronze statue of Mr. Roberge, and a copy of a wall at his former Iraq base that includes the names of the fallen, Boston. com reports.
"It's not going to be the kind of place you go for a picnic," said father John Roberge, to Boston.com. "I want people to feel what these men — what they had to go through. It shouldn't be a walk in the park. It should feel like war."
Getting the tank was the hardest part, Mr. Roberge recounted, according to Boston. com. The military decommissions a limited number of the tanks each year for museums, but transporting them is an expensive headache. Toward that end, Leominster residents set up a Jonathan Roberge Memorial Park Committee to press the military for approval.
"We had plenty of obstacles, plenty of trials and tribulations," said the president of the committee, to Boston. com. "Several times we had potential tanks but things were very political and we didn't get them. But we've finally got a tank up here."
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