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Elkhart man working to restore WWII tank

– Dust from disturbed dirt in the field is filling the air around 80,000 pounds of steel as it makes its way through a field, passing two cows and finally stopping when it has made its round. The tank you would see in old war films is almost completely restored.

For the past 2 1/2 years, Craig Morehead, 48, has been collecting parts from around the world to restore a World War II Sherman tank, a medium-sized armored artillery vehicle used by the United States and its allies.

“I’ve always found World War II history interesting,” Morehead told the South Bend Tribune. “We’ve collected as many pieces as we could to get the tank where it is now.”

In addition to the tank, Morehead has been restoring other vehicles.

Morehead is an engineer, which makes it easier for him to work in the shop on his property. He also served in the Army from 1983 to 1989.

His wife, Kristin Morehead, is supportive of his work, and often joins him at events.

“She’ll typically dress up as Rosie the Riveter,” Craig Morehead said. “It’s a tremendous help to have a support like that at home, especially when I’m spending five or six hours a night working on the vehicles.”

Morehead is also joined by his father, Gail Morehead, and two workers, who help find and restore parts that would go into the tank.

Mary Quigley, 22, has been working with the Moreheads for 1 1/2 years, and helps find the right “Army green” paint for the vehicles.

“It’s a different experience,” Quigley said. “History was always my favorite class in school.”

Gail Morehead, 72, said he was proud of the work his son has been doing, and he has enjoyed helping him fix up the parts.

“It keeps me going,” he said. “You learn to appreciate what those guys went through.”

During the war, the tank would only hold five men at a time in a small space. Craig Morehead said when he took the tank to veterans’ events, many World War II veterans would tell him stories about their time in the tanks.

Craig Morehead has also been restoring another military vehicle, a halftrack, which was a smaller transport vehicle during the war.

“We’ve made it available to schools and for history classes,” Craig Morehead said.

In the fall, Craig Morehead said he wanted to take the tank to the Elkhart Air Show, but needed more help transporting the vehicle.

“You can’t just drive it down the street,” Craig Morehead said.

After completion, the tank will be worth about $750,000 to $1 million to collectors, but Craig Morehead said he wants to keep the tank.

“It’s like anybody who collects cars,” he said. “It’s just a little bit heavier.”