The meaning of Memorial Day

A little while back I posted some pictures of a project we were working on.  The project was a Jeep named Kilroy that a WW2 veteran I know flipped last summer.  He has a guardian angel because while his nephew sustained broken ribs, and other injuries requiring surgery, old Joe just found himself standing on the neighbor’s lawn wondering what happened.  He only had some bruises.

The Jeep on the other hand looked like this:

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All I can figure is that Joe went nose over and and then rolled after running off of the road and into a ditch.  Last week the whole gang pitched in and we aimed to finish and deliver Joe’s Jeep by Saturday.  As usual the Jeep gods threw a monkey wrench in that and made the final work a challenge for us.

This Jeep had MANY items missing or improperly installed when it was first “restored”.  John found that the oil filter only had one line installed, we all found that things like dash and marker lights were not wired in, John and Bobby found various areas missing major mounting bolts.  The missing bolts and welds probably contributed to the amount of damage and frame twisting in the accident.

As delivery day loomed over us the gang was working hard.

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But we felt like we were getting close to the finish line.  Then we tried to start the Jeep.  With a BRAND NEW battery the engine barely harrumphed over.  We gave the battery a boost with the same result.  Finally I called  Joe’s family to check if there was a rebuilt starter in the Jeep.  Apparently there was, but I remembered that this Jeep was always slow to start.  NOW the Jeep gods smiled upon us.  I happened to have four starters from junk Jeeps laid out on the floor.  Happily one of them purred happily when connected to a battery.  Thus we yanked the “rebuilt” starter out and installed the junkpile starter.  Vavoom!! It turned over beautifully and then did not start.

“Kill me” I thought…. Then followed a couple hours of John, Mike and I checking continuity, checking spark and voltage and calling my father who is a retired engineer. Finally I believe checking the distributor condensor’s ground did the trick.  Old Kilroy fired up and purred.  Hurray!!!

The following morning I awoke early, Mike came by, and we finished the job.  Stencils were painted on, misc. items were installed, and then we went for a test ride.  On the test ride I began to worry because the oil pressure meter was reading NOTHING!!!  When we took a look in the engine compartment we found that lo and behold the former idiotboy who restored this Jeep had not installed an oil pressure line.  Reason 193 at this point to find that man and take away his tools.

Eventually we were ready for the road. By 3:00 we were in Pasadena, Maryland and delivering the Jeep.  Here is a photo of Kilroy at the “scene of the crime”.

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I felt it was right to take a photo of the Jeep re-restored at the scene of its accident.  A moment of triumph for Kilroy!  Mike had the idea of unloading the Jeep outside of Joe’s family’s gated community and driving it in for the sake of presentation.  Here is Kilroy heading back home down his driveway.

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We drove down the driveway honking Kilroy’s horn.  When we arrived at the house first Joe’s daughter came out and then Joe.  Joe was walking with a cane but grinning proudly.  He opened the hood, looked over the engine, walked around the vehicle and did a thorough inspection.  Then he threw his cane in the passenger seat, climbed in and drove off up the driveway.  Joe reminded me of a boy getting his favorite toy back after he thought it was lost.  And seeing him sit proudly in his Jeep and then drive off made me feel like we had done our good deed for Memorial Day weekend.  We had made a veteran happy.Image

Thank you for your service Joe, and enjoy your Jeep in good health!!

A veteran’s Jeep

Early in the summer 0f 2011 a friend texted me photos of a very nice WW2 Jeep at a carshow.  I fell in love with it because the owner was a WW2 veteran, and the Jeep was marked for his unit, plus he had “Kilroy” on the license plate.  How cool is that?  Shortly after receiving the photos I had an email from the veteran’s daughter, Maria.  The veteran, Joe, of the 4th Infantry Division, wanted some electrical and other minor repairs made to the Jeep.  I set up a date and soon headed out to pick up the Willys MB.

Joe, his daughter, Maria, and her husband, Harvey are amongst my favorite people.  Maria and Harvey have set up little old man heaven for Joe at their beautiful waterfront property.  Joe has a shooting range, and a game room set up with all of his sporting and wartime memorablia.  I have really enjoyed sitting with all three of them, reading Joe’s stories and listening to Harvey’s tales while smoking Lucky Strikes (bad, bad!! Don’t do what I do!!)

When we delivered the repaired Jeep to Joe my friend Butch came along in his 4th Infantry uniform.  Butch’s father was an officer in the 4th at D-Day.  I will never forget Butch climbing out of the Jeep, walking up to Joe, and saying the unit slogan,” Steadfast and Loyal!”  The look on Joe’s face was priceless.

At the end of the summer I received an email from Maria that said her father was okay, but could I look at the photos and see if we could fix the Jeep.  Joe apparently was trying to show his nephew the slight wobble in the front end when they went into a culvert and flipped the Jeep.  Joe has an angel on his shoulder for sure (or the Jeep god was watching over him) because he was only bruised when he was thrown from the Jeep, his nephew sustained a couple broken ribs.  The Jeep received a crushed hood, fender, radiator, windshield, and the main frame was bent.

Below are photos of delivering the Jeep to Joe the first time, and of our dismantling the Jeep recently.  The Jeep is a 1945 Willys with a 1941 tub.  Our aim is to have it back on the road for Memorial Day.  Joe has been through a few rounds of chemo as of late, so please send some positive prayers or thoughts his way.  We do not have a whole lot of these men and women left, and it is a true honor to be working for a member of the Greatest Generation.

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