Anyone who happens to be shopping for a Jeep on July 3 might be surprised by the vehicles on the lot. The latest models will be there, but so will vintage military and civilian jeeps from the 1940s on, as well as a one-of-a-kind 2016 Wrangler Freedom Edition decorated with the American flag.
Both a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Jeep and part of a months-long fundraiser for the Honor Flight of Kern County, the show will take place at the local Jeep dealership next weekend. More than 20 vintage jeeps will be on display courtesy of the Olive Drab Drivers, a local group of military vehicle collectors, and attendees can buy raffle tickets for a chance to win the custom 2016 model.
Raffle tickets for the American flag Jeep are $50, with proceeds helping Honor Flight send World War II, Vietnam and Korea veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the memorials dedicated to them and their fellow soldiers. The winning raffle ticket will be drawn in early November at Honor Flight’s Salute to Our Local Heroes event, said Lili Marsh, chair of the nonprofit.
When thinking of a new fundraiser for the Honor Flight, the decision to get Jeep involved was an easy one, Marsh said, because the vehicles were “an integral, key piece of equipment during World War II.”
“When we realized it was the 75th anniversary, we thought this was perfect for us,” Marsh said. “Our guys were zipping around Europe in jeeps (in World War II).”
At the show, guests can see a number of vintage military jeeps (made by Ford and Willys) restored to museum quality, said Al Goines of the Olive Drab Drivers (O.D.D.) Among the 20 or so jeeps that will be there are a 1941 Willys slat grill jeep and a 1942 Willys stamp grill jeep, which were used in World War II. Goines said President Dwight D. Eisenhower credited vehicles like those to American success in the war.
There will be jeeps from every decade since the 1940s represented, Goines said, including flat fenders and round fenders and military and civilian models. If all the names of the jeeps are hard to keep track of, there will be helpful signs explaining what year and model each jeep is, as well as its military use.
“It’s a celebration of the history of jeeps, which have really influenced the U.S. and the world,” Goines said. “They represent every major conflict we’ve been in.”
Veterans who drove the jeeps in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars will also be at the show to talk with attendees about their time in the military.
Goines said he expects the show to see about 400 to 500 people throughout the day. Attendees are welcome to sit in the jeeps and take photos, he said, and they’ll also have the chance to win prizes, including Jeep hats and duffle bags, tire rotations and oil changes, he said.
O.D.D., which has 40 local members and 100 military vehicles, are “quintessential military vehicle collectors,” Goines said, and often displays its vehicles around Bakersfield. They can next be seen at the Kern County Museum’s Front Porch Party on July 9.
Though the show of vintage jeeps is one-day only, the American flag Jeep will be on display at the dealership on July 2 and 4 as well. After that, it will move to different locations throughout the summer, where hopeful Jeep owners can buy tickets. Locations will be announced on Honor Flight’s Facebook page. Tickets can also be bought by phone (205-6600) until a winner is chosen in November.
Goines said the new Jeep, with its American flag wrap, is beautiful.
“If you got that, can you imagine?” he said. “You would be recognized everywhere.”
The $40,000 Wrangler was donated to Honor Flight by Bakersfield Chrysler Jeep, Marsh said. The American flag was later added by Vision Signs, she said. About 120 tickets have already been sold, but Marsh is hoping to sell 750 to 950 raffle tickets, which could mean $37,500 to $47,500 to send local veterans to the Capitol.
More than 330 veterans are on the wait list to fly this fall. The Jeep raffle is the organization’s only fundraiser this year, Marsh said, adding that it also relies on individual donations where someone sponsors a veteran’s trip.
“Our hardest mission is finding World War II veterans,” she said. “We fly the older vets first. They’re our first priority.”
Applications for veterans and guardians to go on the Honor Flight can be found online at honorflightkerncounty.org
Since 2012, the local Honor Flight chapter has sent more than 900 Kern County veterans to D.C. in 23 flights, Marsh said.
“Many say they’re too old, but we tell them we have oxygen, wheelchairs — we’re prepared for all situations,” Marsh said. “They should apply regardless (of physical abilities).”
The July 3rd event isn’t just a chance to see some vintage vehicles, Marsh said. It’s an opportunity to help local veterans see memorials constructed in their honor.
“It’s such a cool event, and I don’t know what else is going on that weekend besides fireworks,” she said. “There will be vets there, and it’s like talking to living history.”