An Alabama middle school offered an unusual donation to the Alabama Veterans Museum last week.
After nearly three decades, the Lance missile and its red, white, and blue launcher in front of Athens Middle School have a new home.
“We hate to see it go but realize that it will be in great hands at Athens Veterans Museum,” Chief Warrant Officer 4 James L. Chambers, a senior Army junior ROTC instructor, told the News Courier.
The missile was donated to the school’s ROTC program in the 1970s when it was still Athens High School, and the launcher was donated in the 1990s, after the end of the Cold War.
The antiquated pieces of equipment were capable of carrying nuclear weapons in their heyday. As they sat in front of the high school and subsequent middle school, their presence was far less intimidating.
“Whenever we had visitors call and ask for our location, we would tell them to just follow the ‘tank,’” Chambers said, referring to the launcher vehicle. “Athens High School JROTC cadets spent many days and nights huddled around the launcher during training, socializing, or simply waiting for rides home.”
The career and technical school will soon remove the launcher’s patriotic paint job as part of the restoration process, which Sandra Thompson, the museum’s director, said she hopes will begin soon.
“It adds to our collection and allows visitors to see what came before the technology that we have today,” she said.