What else is left to do if you’re a high-profile lawyer who also happened to be a Marine veteran and a history buff with a spare $600,000? For Tony Buzbee, he knew he could not pass up when the opportunity of owning a World War II tank presented itself in 2017. He just had to buy it. Everything was going well and according to his plans until his neighbors at the River Oaks Property Owners woke up and saw the tank parked on the street through their windows. What ensued after was the Home Owners Association fiasco.
Perhaps no one would expect a fully operational tank parked on the street in front of a million-dollar home in the community River Oaks , but why not? After all, this is America. When Buzbee parked his newly-restored M4 Sherman tank named “Cheyenne,” other history buffs like him and curious children were thrilled to see and even climb the tank. Others would even stop their cars to go out and pose for pictures.
Tony Buzbee was more than pleased to see others admiring and enjoying his tank, but not everyone felt the same. When his neighbors woke up to the sight of the tank, they immediately contacted the River Oaks Property Owners, the homeowners association, to let them know about their concerns relating to the tank: It increased traffic from sightseers, and they were worried about their safety.
HOA immediately took action and did the HOA-est thing ever, their most formidable weapon, the much-dreaded strongly-worded letter. Buzbee was a lawyer, so he knew very well to read contracts and policies, and he was well aware that no specific rules forbid the storage of military vehicles in front of River Oaks homes. However, we would not be surprised if there is now. The HOA was not to give up easily. They hurled back claims that the tank was causing traffic problems.
Atty. Buzbee was far from being deterred. He instead publicized the HOA’s letter resulting in a media fiasco, perhaps blown way out of proportion.
It’s not violating any ordinance, but for some people it makes the homeowners association uncomfortable.
Owning a historical tank was not cheap. An article published by Texas Monthly will give us an idea of the figures,
Buzbee’s bid of 347,200 euros (about $389,000 at the September 2016 exchange rate) plus a 20 percent commission (total price about $467,000, presumably plus taxes and shipping) sufficed to claim the auction’s crown jewel… (According to Buzbee, when all was said and done, he’d spent $600,000 on the tank.)
Not Just Any Other Tank
Cheyenne was not just any other tank. It was a World War II-era Sherman M4A4 tank that landed on the beach of Normandy during the D-Day Invasion. The tank was part of important history. It was there when Paris was freed from the Nazis and when Berlin fell.
The M4 Sherman tank was one of the most famous tanks in American history, named after General William T. Sherman of the American Civil War, specifically made to be cheap and easy to manufacture and maintain. The US military used different versions of the Sherman tank during WWII and the early Cold War.
The medium tank was a reasonably well-armored and well-equipped tank with a fully revolving turret, and its other versions had rocket launchers or bulldozer blades. There were amphibious versions, too, while others had bridges or attachments for clearing mines. One British soldier even used his Sherman to down three German Tiger Tanks with five shots (read the seemingly impossible act here.)
Donating the Sherman
After the HOA circus that followed, Texas A&M University Board of Regent Tony Buzbee decided to gift his 32-ton Sherman tank to the university in 2018. The tank was fully restored and used by the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets.
Buzbee is a Texas A&M alumnus and said he was happy to give back to his university through the tank.
“Texas A&M has a long military tradition, and it sent more military officers to World War II than even the service academies,” he said.
Would you buy an M4 Sherman tank if you were given a chance (and have the extra wad of cash) too?