Thursday, November 11, 2010

A look at the vehicles from the Kansas City Military Vehicle Preservation Society in honor of Veteran's Day

Since today is Veteran’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to look back on some great military vehicles that were on display at the Liberty Memorial over Memorial Day weekend. We haven’t covered this here before, and there are a few pictures here that haven’t previously been published.

The Military Vehicle Preservation Society brought out several fascinating, battle-tested machines, and the owners were available and willing to answer any questions that people may have had.

The collection of Jeeps, transporters, weapons, and motorcycles were just part of the attraction. The Preservation Society also went out of their way to set-up realistic battle scenes. Yeah, they were mannequins dressed up like soldiers, but it was a jarring reminder that these weren't just your everyday, ordinary vehicles.

A majority of the vehicle owners were veterans themselves, and many of them had an idea of the kind of punishment these olive drab trucks and transporters went through. Some of these people were dressed up in period-correct uniforms. One was overheard in the 90-degree heat on Sunday saying that his wool World War I soldiers' uniform was awfully hot.

Among the vehicles was a very rare 1942 GPA Half-Ton Amphibian. Based on an original jeep design, these Ford-built vehicles were made to drive on land as well as the water. They weren't particularly good boats, and they weren't great jeeps, but they were able to do both things better than most. There were very few built in the first place, and their very function and design meant that most rusted away. So being able to see one in restored condition was an unusual opportunity.

There was also a trailer on which an original 1940s dog tag press was in operation. For five dollars, you could give the press operator your information, and they would knock out a real dog tag for you. It was fun to watch, and quite popular with the kids.

This display was held on the Southeast lawn of the World War I Museum at the Liberty Memorial. Construction began on the Memorial in 1921, and a perpetual flame has been burning in the top of the Memorial since the 1926 dedication, in memory of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice during World War I. Incredibly, the Museum is the only one in America dedicated to the history of World War I. In all, it was a fitting place to spend time with a group of passionate military vehicle owners, especially those who served at various times in history.

Enjoy the slideshow below, and think about these vehicles in the context and setting in which they were displayed.

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