by John Adams-Graf
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.