G.I. Jeep Tales - Military Trader/Vehicles

G.I. Jeep Tales

“Dad and Mike”
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by Michael S. Bonak

 Around 1951, the Bonak family acquired GPW 186956. This photo shows Mike Bonak and his father in the Jeep around 1972.

Around 1951, the Bonak family acquired GPW 186956. This photo shows Mike Bonak and his father in the Jeep around 1972.

As I read the article in February2018 edition of Military Vehicles Magazine regarding the jeep owned by John Bochnicka, I was struck by how that could be my own story. I wondered how many other father and sons in the world shared a similar story.

GPW 186956 was brought back from Germany as the personal vehicle of a retiring officer, who moved to Connecticut. At the time, my father was delivering milk from the family farm when he saw the Jeep. He inquired about purchasing it but was told no. Some time later, the owner contacted by Father to say he could buy it. Due to a flood, however, the Jeephad sat in water for some time.

 After Michael got his driver’s license, he bought the family Jeep from his Dad for $75. In the years since the purchase, Michael has driven the Jeep thousands of miles and participated with it in countless parades, displays, and reenactments. This photo from 2000 recreated the Father-Son scene from thirty years earlier.

After Michael got his driver’s license, he bought the family Jeep from his Dad for $75. In the years since the purchase, Michael has driven the Jeep thousands of miles and participated with it in countless parades, displays, and reenactments. This photo from 2000 recreated the Father-Son scene from thirty years earlier.

It was around 1951 when my dad, a WWII veteran, finally purchased our Jeep. The price for GPW 186956 was $75. He brought it back to the family farm where it served as a daily driver, work horse, and snow plow.

In 1968, I came along. Soon after,a bond developed between the Jeep and me. Often, Dad would take me out for rides just to get me to agree to taking my nap! In my teens, I started to learn the art of automotive mechanics on the Jeep. Shortly before I got my driver’s license, I bought the Jeep from Dad. The price — $75.

The skills I learned from that Jeep have served me well, first when I was in the National Guard and later, in my life-long career in the automotive industry.

I still drive it as often as I can. Since 2000, it has traveled from the family home around the country with me, along the way cruising many roads in many different states, driving in lots of parades, sitting in displays, and taking part in re-enactments — it even got to be in a movie!

 GPW 186956 has been in the Bonak family for almost seventy years. Michael proudly drives it whenever he can, eager to share the history of this family treasure.

GPW 186956 has been in the Bonak family for almost seventy years. Michael proudly drives it whenever he can, eager to share the history of this family treasure.

Along the way, we managed to pick up a T3 Bantam trailer to go along with it. Now, like myself, it has returned home and is enjoying its roots! Dad is still with me (soon to be 93) and I still take him in the Memorial Day Parades.

I’m sure many out there share similar stories. I hope they will write them down — I really enjoy reading about them!

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