Tank: The History (Quite-Possibly) of a Member of the OXARC Family


Given a casual glance, most would find “Tank” indistinguishable from all of his peers, standing tall, with strong shoulders, and a muscular neck. His physical appearance reflects a lifetime of struggle and effort. Tank bears the nicks and scars of one who has lived an active, physical existence. Character comes to mind.

Tank’s story began in 1917 like many of ours, or at least like many of our forbearers. Tank emigrated from another country, in this case, Germany just at the end of “The Great War,” or as it also came to be known, “the War to End All Wars.” Germany, and much of Europe, stood in ruins. Hope, for many, lie beyond the Continent’s shores.

In 1923, Tank came by ship to America, the much-heralded land of opportunity. Work was there for all who would apply themselves. The work was hard, gritty and, by today’s standards, harsh indeed. But

the long hours and rugged conditions were an essential element that forged America’s unique character. In the second decade of the new century, American industry was the envy of the world. “Tank” was a small, but integral, part of the engine that transformed the world.

For America, the good times came to a halt with the Great Depression. Men made their way as best they could. Machines stood idle. Hope was a rare commodity in those dark days. Opportunity was even more difficult to come by. “Tank” and the legions of grimy men and their struggling families largely drifted through the decade, finding odd jobs when they could.

In 1938, when, once again, war clouds cast their shadows across Europe, Tank crossed the Atlantic to go to the aid of the Allies. While there, he helped repair the half-tracks and trucks and the rolling stock that would eventually deliver victory to the Allies over the Axis forces. Like all the other veterans of The Greatest Generation, any accolades to one’s contribution for that Herculean effort were mostly met with shrugs—and a passing “Just doing my part…” response.

In 1948, Tank settled in Dallas. America was on top again. The automobile, suburbs and a new, highly mobile lifestyle transformed the country. A trans-national highway system made us truly a united nation. Everyone settled in and enjoyed the good life. It was springtime in America.

Tank Tattoos

“Tank’s” picture is above. Look closely. His “story” is “tattooed*” on his shoulders. Cylinders for industrial gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide are required to be physically tested (hydro-tested), in most cases, every 5 years. Each time they are successfully hydrotested, they receive a date stamp “tattoo.”

It’s entirely possible that Tank was in the E.R in Dallas that dark day in November 1963. That remains an uncertainty, like so many implausible events in the days that followed. What is certain: We were changed as a nation and a people.

The winds of war were blowing once again, this time in Southeast Asia. Tank, and a new generation of young men and women, answered the call. If the cause was perhaps less than certain, the dedication, devotion and sacrifice of those who served was beyond question. The price America paid was high. Once again, those who served kept those experiences to themselves and sought only to better their lives when they came home.

From 1973 to 1989, Tank “semi-retired” to the Corps of Engineers in the Pacific Northwest. The work was steady, but it lacked a certain level of excitement that had typified such a colorful career. In 1990, Tank found a new opportunity at OXARC. Competition was fierce, but the company was a going, growing concern. Everyone had a job to do to keep the OXARC engine rolling forward. The lifestyle was a good fit for Tank. He turned out, day in and day out in the service of OXARC and its customers.

Age catches up with all of us. When it was time once again to determine if Tank still had the physical capacity to serve, failing was not an unreasonable possibility. Everyone would have understood. One outcome might be a transfer to a less demanding—some might say less crucial—assignment. Character and grit and shoulders of steel would not let that stand. Tank passed with flying colors.

Within days, Tank was back in the OXARC circuit, continuing to serve, as always. Whether it would be to help repair a dented fender, cut steel beams for a new school building or connect a span on a new bridge—for Tank, it has always been about the work and the service.

Tank’s history is, in a sense, ours as well. In each sale to a customer, every time we acknowledge a coworker’s success, Tank is there, supporting the human transaction.

Tank is, quite literally an enduring part of the OXARC legacy.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association