Hill recalls scrap drives, war bonds, gasoline rationing and scarcity of sugar and tobacco. As a kid it was fun times and not until later did the war’s actual death and destruction sink in with him.
Hill’s Uncle Joe Place served with the U.S. Army in Europe and was awarded three Bronze Stars but later was always reluctant to discuss the war.
“I do remember him talking about being in vehicle convoys and using the black-out lighting systems,” he said. “You could see the small lights of the truck in front but they couldn’t be seen from above or from the sides.”
Hill’s own first-hand experience with Jeeps and Dodge half-track vehicles initially came when he was drafted into the U.S. Army right after graduating from Central Missouri State College in 1953.
“We all thought we were going to Korea but the war ended and everyone was relieved,” he said. “Instead I was assigned to a 7th Army artillery outfit in Hammelburg, Germany.”
Part of Hill’s job was teaching GIs, primarily from southern states including Oklahoma, with less than an eighth grade education to read.
“It wasn’t ‘Dick and Jane’ but pretty close to it,” he said.
Hill found the German citizenry to be helpful and friendly during times he traveled alone.
“We had won the war but they didn’t hold a grudge,” he said. “They were fabulous people.”
In remembrance of that time Hill had the 7th Army and other pertinent divisional number graphics stenciled onto his Jeep’s paint job.
“I like pretty red Corvettes and sports cars in general, but this Jeep doesn’t fall into that category,” he said. “The appeal for me is that it has been restored to the original military condition.”
Have you seen a cool vehicle around town? Writer Doug Hill’s always on the lookout for future Dig My Ride columns. E-mail him at Hillreviews@hotmail.com.