EVERETT, Wash. – There aren't too many places you can go to see an historic operating tank. But on Monday, Paul Allen's Flying Heritage Collection debuted two.
One is a Russian T-34, which was used successfully to beat back the German Army in the east. The other is German, and technically it's not a tank, it doesn't have a rotating turret, it's a tank destroyer known as a Hetzer.
As as a WWII tanker, Al Robinson went up against German Hetzers and he hasn't seen one close up, in a long time.
"It's a little too close," said Al Robinson, former tank commander.
Robinson's story is unusual. He's an American who joined the Canadian army in 1940, a year before the U.S. was drawn into WWII. He fought against the 5th Panzer division led by famous German General Erwin Rommel in North Africa. He fought against the Germans again in Italy.
"I lost two tanks that were completely destroyed. And I had another situation where the German's blew the tread off. And we abandoned the tank and got shot," he said.
He was hit twice, you can still see the star shaped scar on his hand, the other machine gun round hit him in the abdomen.
"It's a hole that went in here and came out over here," he said.
He still has his Canadian dog tags. After a few months, he was back in action.
The tanks brought out many generations, a crowd of about 2500, the largest organizers have seen at one of these shows that usually feature airplanes.
But along with keeping airplanes and tanks from the past available for the public to see, the Flying Heritage Collection wants to hear from more veterans like Robinson. It's building a collection of oral histories says Cory Graff, the collection's curator.
If you would like to tell your story, on the ground or in the air, you can contact the flying heritage Collection at www.flyingheritagecollection.com. Click on "Contact us."