Convoying!

Advice from a Vietnam Vet and 3-time MVPA Alumni
Author:
Updated:
Original:

by Mark Sigrist

 Historic photo at the start of the Second US Army Transcontinental Motor Convoy (TMC) from Washington DC to San Diego in the Summer of 1920 along the Bankhead Highway across the southern US (the First TMC followed the Lincoln Highway in 1919).

Historic photo at the start of the Second US Army Transcontinental Motor Convoy (TMC) from Washington DC to San Diego in the Summer of 1920 along the Bankhead Highway across the southern US (the First TMC followed the Lincoln Highway in 1919).

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 2015 MVPA Bankhead Highway Convoy (BH’15) rallied at Pohick Bay just south of Washington DC, with a full schedule of events in preparation of the start of the convoy – 1st Gear. Willy Delmeier

The 2015 MVPA Bankhead Highway Convoy (BH’15) rallied at Pohick Bay just south of Washington DC, with a full schedule of events in preparation of the start of the convoy – 1st Gear. Willy Delmeier

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.

 School Children love convoys! Our convoy was a history lesson, truly the essence of “history in motion.” This is a typical convoy scene — and a major reason we do convoys.

School Children love convoys! Our convoy was a history lesson, truly the essence of “history in motion.” This is a typical convoy scene — and a major reason we do convoys.

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.

 Police escorts occurred in all major cities, most small towns, and across a lot of the open country-side. Excellent planning leads to great support along the route of march.

Police escorts occurred in all major cities, most small towns, and across a lot of the open country-side. Excellent planning leads to great support along the route of march.

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.

 In the evenings, we usually set up static display of our convoy vehicles. These always draw a crowd with veterans. On one memorable occasion, I talked to a vet who claimed his life was saved on Hamburger Hill by a 101st Artillery unit staffed by my brother! Willy Delmeie

In the evenings, we usually set up static display of our convoy vehicles. These always draw a crowd with veterans. On one memorable occasion, I talked to a vet who claimed his life was saved on Hamburger Hill by a 101st Artillery unit staffed by my brother! Willy Delmeie

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!

 Ladies like to convoy too, and count about one third of participants: Jackie Neil and Sabra Seaborg are veterans of three convoys. Part of the convoy mission is to honor veterans and many vehicles display plaques with names and photos of loved ones. Willy Delmeier

Ladies like to convoy too, and count about one third of participants: Jackie Neil and Sabra Seaborg are veterans of three convoys. Part of the convoy mission is to honor veterans and many vehicles display plaques with names and photos of loved ones. Willy Delmeier

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!

 Food on the convoy is always great and many times provided by service organizations at the convoy stops. Tom Sears, Ray Barth, Aaron ,and Jim Diamond, and Pete Yates enjoy lunch at the Texas State Fair. You can gain weight on convoys! Willy Delmeier

Food on the convoy is always great and many times provided by service organizations at the convoy stops. Tom Sears, Ray Barth, Aaron ,and Jim Diamond, and Pete Yates enjoy lunch at the Texas State Fair. You can gain weight on convoys! Willy Delmeier

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.

 Mike O’Sullivan drove his half-track for more than 2,000 miles, probably more miles in a single month for any half-track in the USA since WWII! Diana O’Sullivan drove their support vehicle when the half-track was rarely loaded. In this photo are convoy veterans Mike O’Sullivan and Steve “Rooster” Stevenson, the Convoy Vehicle Safety Inspector. Pat Underwood

Mike O’Sullivan drove his half-track for more than 2,000 miles, probably more miles in a single month for any half-track in the USA since WWII! Diana O’Sullivan drove their support vehicle when the half-track was rarely loaded. In this photo are convoy veterans Mike O’Sullivan and Steve “Rooster” Stevenson, the Convoy Vehicle Safety Inspector. Pat Underwood

 The BH’15 Recovery Unit consisting of Recovery Officer Peter Haigh, March Unit Officer Mark Sigrist, Convoy Trail Officer Ken Field, loaded an inoperable Jeep in heavy traffic. Repairs would be done during the noon lunch stop. Willy Delmeier

The BH’15 Recovery Unit consisting of Recovery Officer Peter Haigh, March Unit Officer Mark Sigrist, Convoy Trail Officer Ken Field, loaded an inoperable Jeep in heavy traffic. Repairs would be done during the noon lunch stop. Willy Delmeier

 Convoys travel through big cities and small towns. We always set up static displays at each stopping point: Lunch, pit stops, and evenings. Nearly every stop brings out local media wanting to hear our story. Willy Delmeier

Convoys travel through big cities and small towns. We always set up static displays at each stopping point: Lunch, pit stops, and evenings. Nearly every stop brings out local media wanting to hear our story. Willy Delmeier

 At the end of a successful convoy, it’s time to tell stories and reminisce while seeing all of the happy smiles. Jeep March Unit Leaders Jackie and Paul Neil, Support Unit Leaders Traci and Randy Parent, and photographer Willy Delmeire show off an official Bankhead Highway sign. Willy Delmeier

At the end of a successful convoy, it’s time to tell stories and reminisce while seeing all of the happy smiles. Jeep March Unit Leaders Jackie and Paul Neil, Support Unit Leaders Traci and Randy Parent, and photographer Willy Delmeire show off an official Bankhead Highway sign. Willy Delmeier

 WWII MP veteran and retired Nevada Motor Patrol Officer Bill Kreider and his WLA with a couple of admiring police officers in 2012 on the Alaska Highway Convoy. Bill draws people on all the convoys wherever he goes. Willy Delmeier

WWII MP veteran and retired Nevada Motor Patrol Officer Bill Kreider and his WLA with a couple of admiring police officers in 2012 on the Alaska Highway Convoy. Bill draws people on all the convoys wherever he goes. Willy Delmeier

 MVPA convoys travel through scenic terrain, some very congested, but much of it in wide-open spaces. Some long-time participants claim that we experience “the longest parade in the world.” Pat Underwood

MVPA convoys travel through scenic terrain, some very congested, but much of it in wide-open spaces. Some long-time participants claim that we experience “the longest parade in the world.” Pat Underwood

Frontline Feature

steve dance cover IMG_2998

Steve Dance Auctions

ESTATE AUCTION - PROLIFIC COLLECTION OF 25 CLASS III FIREARMS.