An old MP recreates his M151

1962 Ford M151, Ford-built body
Owned by Larry & Bonita Elsasser, Russell Kans.
Restored by MV Specialties, Hastings, Minn.

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After retiring from farming, Larry Elasser began reminiscing about his time in service in Germany during the 1960s. Larry wanted to drive an M151 one of the 45 he was responsible as the Motor Sergeant of Company A, 385th MP Battalion. Finally locating a suitable candidate for restoration, he contracted with Gary and Paul Wirth of MV Specialties to create a museum-quality replica of the M151s he drove fifty years earlier.

Larry Elsasser left home in January 1963 to enlist for three yeas in the U.S. Army. He took basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. The Army needed military policeman so even though he had been a mechanic before entering the service, the Army sent Larry off to MP School at Fort Gordon, Ga. Afterwards, the Army sent Elsasser to Europe where he arrived on Europe July 4, 1963, and  was assigned to Company A, 385th MP Battalion, 7th Army in the Stuttgart, Germany area.

As Motor Pool Sergeant for Co. A, 385th MP Bn., 7th Army in the Federal Republic of Germany, Larry was responsible for 45 M151s, 1 M37, and and M35s.

As Motor Pool Sergeant for Co. A, 385th MP Bn., 7th Army in the Federal Republic of Germany, Larry was responsible for 45 M151s, 1 M37, and and M35s.

After serving as an MP for 6-8 months, Elsasser learned that the motor pool was in desperate need of a mechanic. When his commanding officer learned Larry had been a diesel mechanic for Caterpillar before enlisting, he sent him to wheeled vehicle school in Germany. Larry came back to the same company and served the rest of his time (including a 6-month extension) in the motor pool as the Motor Sergeant until he was discharged in January 1966.

Larry had a few photos of himself with M151s taken during his service. His collection of snapshots would provide the Wirths with crucial details as they restored an M151 for Larry.

Elsasser had a few photos of himself with M151s taken during his service. His collection of snapshots would provide the Wirths with crucial details as they restored an M151 for Larry.

Elsasser recalled that the company had 45 M151s, 1 M37, and and M35s. All of the company’s M151s where either 1961 or 1962 models.

Ever though nearly 50 years separates these two image, they both represent a man who proudly served the U.S. Army in Company A, 385th MP Bn: Motor Sergeant Larry Elsasser.

Ever though nearly 50 years separates these two image, they both represent a man who proudly served the U.S. Army in Company A, 385th MP Bn: Motor Sergeant Larry Elsasser.

Years later after retiring from farming, Elsasser recalled seeing pictures of himself with a 1962 Ford M151 while in service. He began to think about the possibility of driving one again. After he met John Bizal, owner of Midwest Military, Elsasser knew he had to have one and restore it back to way the ones were that he had driven in Germany.

Details recreated from Larry’s memory were the body tag on the left hand frame rail and the stylized “Ford” on the data plate.

Details recreated from Larry’s memory were the body tag on the left hand frame rail and the stylized “Ford” on the data plate.

Finally locating a suitable candidate for restoration, Elsasser contacted Gary and Paul Wirth of MV Specialties in Hastings, Minn., about doing the work. Wanting to do it right, Gary and Paul restored it to museum quality and applied the markings that had been carried by by the 385th MP jeeps 50 years ago.

When MPs from other companies saw Company A’s M151s, they wondered how the A Company vehicles came to be equipped with doors – a welcome between passengers and the cold German winter. It is a project yet to be tackled on Larry’s recreation.

When MPs from other companies saw Company A’s M151s, they wondered how the A Company vehicles came to be equipped with doors – a welcome between passengers and the cold German winter. It is a project yet to be tackled on Larry’s recreation.

Elsasser took the finished M151 to the MVPA International Convention in Topeka, Kan., in 2015. Entered it in the Motor Pool Class, the M151 received a Gold Award with a score of 99.187% correct. Since then, he and his wife, Bonita, have driven the M151 in several parades and displayed it at many shows – it is always a big hit.

Larry wanted a “museum quality restoriation” when he contracted MV Specialities. This required strict attention to every detail, both seen and unseen.

Elsasser wanted a “museum quality restoriation” when he contracted MV Specialities. This required strict attention to every detail, both seen and unseen.

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