This month marks the thirteenth anniversary of the death of the last of the great American folk heroes. On June 4th, 2004, Marvin Heemeyer, a welder and auto mechanic living in Granby, Colorado, climbed into the heavily armored Komatsu D355A bulldozer he had spent the last 18 months modifying. As he used a crane to lower the final piece of concrete armor over the top of the bulldozer, he knew that he would never be coming out. He then drove through the wall of his muffler shop and went on to cause over 7 million dollars in property damage in the next two hours. In honor of his brave act of defiance, we’d like to present you with his story – and some bulldozer tattoos.
Heemeyer was born in South Dakota in 1951 and settled in Granby in the late 1980s. He purchased two acres of land and built a muffler shop. Eventually, he sold part of his land to Mountain Park Concrete. The company set out to build a plant adjacent to Heemeyer’s muffler shop but the plans would cut off traffic’s access to the shop. Heemeyer spent the next few years fighting city hall trying to save his business, but was ruled against at every turn – including making a new road to his shop using a bulldozer he had purchased.
By this point, Marvin Heemeyer had been pushed too far. He decided to take matters into his own hands by modifying his bulldozer into an armored tank and setting his sights on those who had wronged him. He covered the machine in a thick armor of concrete and steel. He fitted the dashboard with two monitors hooked up to external video cameras covered by a three inch sheet of bulletproof plastic. He installed air conditioning to keep himself cool and compressed air nozzles to clear dirt from the cameras. After a year and a half of work, Marvin’s time had come.
Heemeyer’s rampage saw the destruction of 13 buildings, with owners of all the damaged property having connections to Heemeyer’s grievances. The police, try as they may, just could not stop the destructive power of what the media would later refer to as “the killdozer.” Over 200 rounds of ammunition were fired at the tank to no avail. It was only when one of the treads got stuck in between the floorboards and basement of a hardware store did Heemeyer’s rampage end. The orgy of destruction saw only one causality, as with nowhere left to go, Marvin Heemeyer took his own life via a bullet to the head.
This sort of thing is what all true Americans need to metaphorically do when faced with adversity. Heemeyer famously wrote in a note before the rampage that, “Sometimes reasonable men must do unreasonable things,” and it’s become a mantra worth taking to heart. And so we salute this hero of lore by spreading his story and bringing you tattoos of bulldozers, all of which could be easily modified into destructive forces just like the killdozer.
We hope the story of Marvin Heemeyer stays with you all for the rest of your lives. Think of him when the chips are stacked against you and remember that one man can always make a difference.