Description Parts of each of the four tanks in the platoon the I commanded in 2003-2004 are visible in this photo.
Someone once asked me what it was like to drive the tank. This was my response:
'Imagine being able to throw a bolt of lightning. You snap your fingers and 'BOOM,' the ground shakes, your hair stands on end, you get an immense feeling of pride and satisfaction. You have the ability to reach out and touch anything within two miles of where you stand. A smile creeps across your face that won't go away for hours. That's what it's like to fire the gun on the tank.
Wait. I got carried away there. You asked me what it's like to drive a tank. Well, you still get that immense feeling of pride and satisfaction. You still get that smile that won't go away. Despite the fact that you feel like you've squeezed yourself into a matchbox, you lay back and are quite comfortable, as you drive while in a reclined position. You start up the engine and 1500 angry horses come life, ready to obey your every command. You open up the throttle a bit, and a 60 tons of fire breathing dragon start to move. You increase the throttle some more, and eventually you've got that dragon moving cross country at 50 miles per hour. That smile creeps across your face again. That's what it's like to drive a tank.
Even better is being the tank commander. You sit on top. The wind blows against your face as you command that dragon and those horses. You decide where to throw the lightning. The dragon's scales protect you from almost any bolt of lightning that someone else wants to throw at you. Three crewmembers are ready to respond to your beck and call. You feel invulnerable.'
That pretty much sums up what it's like to fire, drive, and command an M1A1 Abrams main battle tank. As a tank platoon leader, I had four of those fire breathing dragons under my command. Imagine that feeling.