by Mark Sigrist
For those who don’t know, I want to share a “day in the life of a convoyer.” This should give you a good idea of what it’s like to be convoying in your historic military vehicle across a long distance. I have done it three times now, each of which was sponsored by the Military Vehicle Preservation Association (MVPA).
The first thing you need to know is that you run very long days in your “March Unit” —a group of similar vehicles in the convoy. You will cross some of the most beautiful country, generally covering about 180 milesrunning at 30 miles an hour. Along the route, you waveto what seems like all the citizens of the rural county along the original WWII-era route (sometimes on the actual original historical roadway). You will see kids come running out of the local school lining the highway waving American flags for all they are worth. You will shout “thank you” to the teachers for bringing out the kids for the history lesson we represent, and to the vets dressed in their old uniforms or service vet caps. Some of these old vets will saluting as they are helped by their children or grandchildren to stand at attention – that will grip a spot in your chest.
A DAY IN THE CONVOY
After numerous pit stops, a noon day meal (usually provided by a local town social group), and talking to literally hundreds of people a day at each of the stops’ static display of the historic military vehicles, you finally pull into the evening rally point. Here, the participants put together a short static display before being released to go get fuel and return to the rally point/overnight camp spot at the local National Guard facility.
Sometimes, the Convoy Commanding Officer (CO) will give you the task of doing several live interviews with one of the local TV honeys. All she wants to do is sit in the seat of your military vehicle to make several short live-on-air descriptions of what she thinks the convoy represents. She will ask about how slow the trucks travel and how hot it must be without air conditioningin your “Jeep”— no matter how many times you have told her that it’s a Dodge and not a Jeep!
After fueling up and pulling after-travel preventive maintenance on your vehicle, it’s readyfor the next day’s 1st gear. Then it is time to set up your camp.
You catch a ride with a fellow convoyer to the local VFW where there is a program, social hour, and a wonderful meal. You spend time talking with vets and fellow convoyers about the Army or with an actual authentic Special Ops hero who never talks about specific military things. Regardless,you come away from the conversations considering them as new friends.
After the meal, you tell some lies with convoy friends just when that reporter shows up and wants to do another live shot for the late-night news. You and one of your convoy buddies show her a WWII photograph of a WWII MP with his Harley-Davidson WLA. You convince her that the guy in the photo is sitting at the next table, and he has been driving that exact same WLA with us on the convoy. When it gets through her head that maybe we are not trying to pull a fast one on her, she nearly falls over herself getting over to talk to Bill ... Heck, what we told her was nearly 80% correct!
Mike calls out that he is headed back to the armory if anyone wants a ride to saddle up. You head out back with a dozen others, many with beverage bottles in hand. You roar down town at a stately 15 miles an hour, and Mike perfectly times the stoplights as you talk and laugh with the others at the assuredness of the rightness of this joyful moment. You all yell and wave at pedestrians on the streetlight-highlighted sidewalks. Several police officers wave, and one yells, asking for a ride tomorrow. Yup, it’s not just every day you can ride through a major city on a finely restored World War II half-track!
You hit the sack after a shower in the Armory, and climb into the sleeping bag with a soft patter of rain drops on the tent. 0700 hours and 1st gear will come way too soon.
So, that’s a day in the life of a convoyer — it doesn’t get any better! Convoying is truly the fullest meaning of “history in motion.” Keep’em rolling.