Virginia Soldier Hijacks Tank, Goes on 2-Hour Joyride Through Richmond

That’s one way to go AWOL.

Video Still/NBC

A soldier at the Fort Pickett National Guard base in Blackstone, Virginia, picked one hell of a way to go AWOL Tuesday. He climbed in one of the Guard’s tank-like Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) and took off for parts unknown.

Or his destination was unknown at the time. The unnamed soldier became the focus of a police chase that ended in downtown Richmond. A chase that certainly got a lot of attention as it continued for two hours through Virginia. 

The APC wasn’t armed but it certainly could do plenty of damage anyway. Urgency grew as it continued down I-95 at about 40 mph. 

Reuters reports that once the vehicle was inside the Richmond city limits, combat rifle-wielding police stood guard at the entrance to the city’s Capitol Square and a police helicopter kept track of it with a spotlight. 

The insanity ended in downtown Richmond near a hospital, and the soldier was taken into custody. Some reports have described him as “disgruntled,” and the New York Post reported that he is a “Virginia Army National Guard Lieutenant and a commander with an engineering battalion.” 

The chase blew up on social media.

The crazy thing is that this is actually a pretty tame incident. Actual tanks have been stolen in the past and done real damage. There was a minor tank rampage in San Diego in 1995, and in 2004, one man in what’s been termed a “killdozer” took out a good chunk of downtown Granby, Colorado.

If there’s one lesson to be taken from any of these events, it’s that maybe military bases should do a better job of locking up vehicles designed to destroy things on the battlefield.