Shawano’s M4 Sherman Tank

Published June 13, 2024

Photo Gallery


Shawano’s M4 Sherman Tank
Located at the corner of Main Street and Lieg Avenue in Shawano

We played on it as children and many of us drive past it most days. Did you ever wonder how a WWII Sherman tank got to Shawano?

In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, as the United States Military was modernizing its military hardware, there was lots of WWII surplus.

At the same time, communities around the nation and organizations like AMVETS, American Legion, and the VFW were looking to build memorials to the 2nd World War. Shawano’s Sherman tank arrived in July 1953 through the organization of VFW post 2723 and the TACOM group of the United States Military. The tank was named by the British for the American Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman.

Joe Dillenberg with the VFW in Shawano tells us, “It was acquired by the VFW post in 1953 for display in town. Technically, it is still on loan from the federal government. It seems that quite a few veterans’ organizations in Wisconsin and Minnesota secured tanks for display in the mid 50’s from TACOM.” TACOM is the United States Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command and they have a program where organizations can request display of surplus military equipment in communities and organizations like the VFW.

The program still exists but when contacted, TACOM, which is based in Michigan, doesn’t have any records of this Sherman coming to Shawano. However, we know the Sherman tank was built by Ford and was turned over to the military on May 19, 1943. Its serial number is 12236 and registration number is 3054391. These numbers and dates are still on the tank today.

We contacted a tank expert, Pierre Olivier, with the Tank Encyclopedia group. Pierre tells us, “I think this Sherman tank served for training stateside during WW2. It was later rebuilt and upgraded in the 1950s and most probably served with a National Guard unit, or was simply kept in storage before being sold as surplus.”

Technically, it’s an M4A3 Sherman where the A3 designates that it’s built by Ford. The Sherman was the most widely used medium tank by USA and Western Allies in WWII. The total number of M4’s produced was over 49,000 with 1,690 by Ford.
Rubin Schaetzel, a WWII veteran and Sherman tank driver who lived right here in Shawano landed on Utah beach in a Sherman on D-Day. On June 6, 1944, his Sherman was blown out from under him after taking a direct hit so he had to find another tank and crew. He drove four different Shermans in WWII and says, “it was 45 tons of beast and a reliable machine.” Even though the Sherman only had a 75mm gun and was outmatched in armor and fire power of the German heavy tanks, it helped win the war through sheer numbers.

With the 80th anniversary of D-Day, now you know a little bit of The Sherman’s history tied to Shawano.


The text below is from Danny Staub. His grandfather, SSGT Reuben Staub, drove the tank from Madison to Shawano.
I’m Danny Staub and I know who parked the tank at Memorial Park…Please take a few minutes and learn about an unsung hero of Shawano, W. I He was a third generation Staub in Shawano…and I am a fifth generation but now in Green Bay but have family in Shawano.

My grandfather, SSGT Reuben P. Staub, from Shawano, was the head of the local VFW. He was given a police escort from and army base by Madison, WI up the highways and what is now Interstate 41 as he drove it alongside on the shoulder of the highway with the Sherman Tank. He talked of this journey until the day he passed in 1969. He stated on how the tracks ripped up the roadways…he chuckled. At that time, the tank still has an engine it and can be fully functional which was part of the deal when it was donated.

My grandfather owned Stauby’s Refrigeration after he got out of WW2…..He was MIA presumed KIA for 15 months at age 20….He and his B24 bomber crew were ordered to bail out over Ploesti Romania on D-day June 6, 1944 as his squadron the 98th bomb group 415th division was on an easy mission out of LEECE, Italy to bomb the oil yards in Romania as they were supplying the Germans with fuel. After their plane was shot up and hit by flak the right engine caught on fire. The pilot gave the order to the 6 guys in the back to bail out over Romania. My grandfather never jumped out of a plane before that. He had his shoes and socks off as he was the belly gunner and they needed the traction to kick the big gun around in a circle underneath the plane. Just prior to being hit my grandfather was asked by SSGT Celestino H. Garcia from Bexar, Texas if he would like to switch gunner positions for the day as grandpa had the best view of the country below. Grandpa Reuben obliged and before he was able to get his socks and boots on before coming under fire from the enemy. The back crew all bailed out… my grandfather was a bit slower and drifted away from his crew-mates that were picked up by friendly civilians in a communist occupied Romania. Grandpa with a map and coordinates in his pocket started walking, but only at night, through enemy territory at 20 years old. He walked from Romania to Turkey over 1500 miles in 15 months. He escaped being captured twice by German officers. My dad has one of their officer daggers and other relics.

My grandfather never spoke of his war time days except to his sister immediately after he got home. Her name was Ardis Staub from Shawano. Grandpa told her that the day he jumped from the plane that his best friend had asked him to change gunner positions and we all know that my grandpa did… SSGT Celestino H. Garcia from Bexar Texas was the only fatality that day. He died from an enemy airship gunshot to the head as he sat in the glass bubble under the plane where my grandfather had just been seated a moment before. I cannot imagine what my grandfather must have endured. I know that he traded my grandmother’s Shawano High School Class ring for a pair of sandals from a farmer. I also know that Romania is a very mountainous area that would not be easily traversed in summer and frigid winter.

Several years ago, I was contacted by the granddaughter of one of the men that had jumped and together we located the family or family members of each of the crew aboard the B24 named Military Secrets that day. Her grandfather was the last one alive. The Pilot 2nd Lt. Lewis Kalb had committed suicide years later as he could not cope with giving the order to bail out. It was an honor for me to do the research and find the history that we did on this great man SSGT Reuben Paul Staub, the son of Paul Staub which was the son of Wilhelm and Berta Staub which were the first ones here and who settled in Shawano and ran a printing company. They’re all buried across from McDonalds on Hwy 29. Grandpa Reuben after going through all that hell and becoming a true American and unsung hero died of a terrible battle with brain cancer at the King Veterans Hospital in Sept of 1969.

I was born in May of 1970 and I am proud every time I drive passed that tank and smile to all the Vets who have a great survival story that we will never know the details. Thank you, now you know the story about the man that parked the Sherman Tank at Memorial Park in Shawano, WI. God Bless You all.