Historic military convoy stops in New Haven

0
601

By ROD KING
For IN|FW Newspapers

This 1941 Packard staff car originally cost $1,700 plus $275 for the Cadillac air-conditioning unit installed in the trunk. All the vehicles in the convoy are privately owned and restored by their owners. Most of the owners are veterans. (Rod King)

A good-size crowd was on hand at Schnelker Park in New Haven the morning of Aug. 18 to welcome a historic military vehicles convoy. The 50 vehicles made a stop of about an hour before motoring on to South Bend.

The convoy, which started in York, Pa., is headed to San Francisco in a reenactment of a 1919 U.S. Army Transcontinental Motor Convoy on the Lincoln Highway.

More than 50 historic trucks, trailers, jeeps, field ambulances, utility vehicles and staff cars circled the park around 10 a.m. and parked as camera and phone lenses clicked away.

The oldest vehicle in the convoy was a 1918 Dodge staff car. If minor breakdowns occur along the way the vehicle is pulled off the road and repaired on the spot. If it is more serious it is trucked to the next town for service. (Rod King)

The convoy, which began its odyssey Aug. 11, is scheduled to arrive in San Francisco Sept. 14.

New Haven Parks & Recreation Superintendent Mike Clendenen said, “I received a call July 22 from the MVPA asking if they could take a break here before starting the next leg of their journey. After checking with the mayor’s office and East Allen County Schools administrators I let them know we’d be honored to have them. The only worry was that the old junior high building was being torn down and the street at the south end of the park was full of equipment and debris. Fortunately, everything got cleaned up in plenty of time. Having them stop here was good for the city.”

Bob Neely of Florida, who has participated in five major convoys, was in an Army ambulance. He said the convoy got on the road following the national convention of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association. “All of the vehicles are privately owned and have been preserved by their owners. In addition, most of (the owners) are veterans,” he added.

This 1943 U.S. Navy ship-to-shore utility vehicle owned by Texan Mike O’Sullivan just returned from a monthlong visit to Europe where it participated in D-Day commemorations in France. (Rod King)

The oldest vehicle in the convoy was a 1918 Dodge staff car. Another staff car, a 1941 Packard, had been driven by Roger Hershberger of Iowa in several previous convoys. He proudly showed off the small trunk that held his travel bag and a Cadillac air-conditioning unit that originally cost $275.

A former communications trailer had been transformed into a miniature souvenir shop on wheels by its owner Brad Nelson, also of Iowa. He made dog tags on an 80-year-old stamping machine and rings from spent ammunition with the proceeds going to support the MVPA. “I’ll be making dog tags all the way across the country,” he exclaimed.