Tag Archives: military history


A Diamond Anniversary Covered In Mud.

By: Chris Warren.

Americans embrace a culture of cars in a way no other nation does. Classics such as the Mustang and Corvette usually first come to mind, but the true king of them all, the one that predated the muscle cars of the 60’s & 70’s and even the chrome & tail wings era of the 50’s, is an unrefined, simple, instantly recognizable no-frills vehicle that was built to slop through mud and sand and be bombed and shot at and keep pushing on through obstacles that would humiliate any other car: The Jeep is an American legend and has been proudly kicking ass for seventy five years with no sign of stopping soon.

Jeep, the proper noun and brand name, has several sport utility vehicles in its lineup, but only the Jeep Wrangler has a pedigree going back to the original jeep, the common noun, that was a key player in winning World War II and went on to win the hearts and respect of three generations. Jeep Wrangler has a fan base like no other.

I got sucked into the Jeep cult at an early age. When I was nineteen, I decided that my Ford F-250 truck was too big and too thirsty for gas to be a practical vehicle for a college kid. After some persuasion, my parents agreed to help me get a Jeep CJ. I had been a Jeep freak since I was little, so having a real one of my own was a pretty dang big deal.

My dad sold my tired old truck to a guy in the neighborhood for I think $500. I had some money I saved from my part time job at a radio station, and my parents kindly kicked in the rest. Dad found me a used Jeep through a relative who was in the car business. Purchase price $2100.

It wasn’t what I would have chosen if I could have anything, but teenagers with very little money are in no position to be picky, so I happily embraced it. For my two-grand-and-a-little-more I got a 1979 Jeep CJ that was equal parts rust and metal. It had a 3-speed stick shift and a V8 engine. A big engine in a little jeep translated into breathtaking power and speed. My Jeep may not have looked like much, but it had plenty to brag about under the hood. My parents didn’t even notice (or pretended not to notice) that its gas mileage was only a little better than the truck.

President Roosevelt visiting the troops in a jeep. Date unknown.

I didn’t fully understand it at the time, but I was driving a piece of American military history. Jeeps were on the beaches at Normandy and Iwo Jima. Jeeps were in Korea and Vietnam. Jeeps hauled Presidents and privates in equally modest utility. Jeeps had been turned into ambulances, tow trucks, delivery vans, card tables, and weapons platforms. Jeeps were adapted to every conceivable task and succeeded at all of them.

Everywhere the Army went, they took jeeps with them. And I do mean literally everywhere. Soldiers revered jeeps, and after returning home from World War II, the veterans’ nostalgia for a vehicle that was itself a legitimate war hero created a loyal civilian customer base.

The 2016 Jeep Wrangler.

I drove that Jeep for five years, all the way through college and into the job market. Then the day came when my dad suggested that maybe it was time to trade the rust bucket in and get something else. Dad’s wisdom was right: By then I had a real job and my own money, and the old Jeep needed to go. I knew someday I would own another. Nobody trades in a Jeep and says to themselves, “I hated that thing. I’ll never buy one again!”

Today, Jeeps still steadily roll off the assembly line and millions of them sit in garages and driveways from coast to coast, including mine. It’s bouncy. It’s unsophisticated. It’s coarse. But it has a personality as big as America itself and will always get you there, even when “there” is up the side of a mountain or through eighteen inches of snow.

Among all the  amazing classic cars, only one is a true patriot that earned its place in history with mud and blood. The Jeep is still in production in 2016 on its diamond anniversary because it was cut from the proud spirit of a great nation and polished into a legend by American heroes who needed a vehicle that was was tough as they were.

Editor’s note: If you enjoyed this article, you may also like my related article, The Legend Of Super Jeep .

History’s Promise: Pearl Harbor Veterans Are Ageless.

By: Chris Warren.

In college I had an English professor who once declared, “every present has a different past.” He was speaking in terms of history and what he meant was that events do not have a static meaning. How a past event is viewed now is not the same as what it meant at the time it happened, nor at any point since then. This is why history is more than just a factual list of dates and events. To understand history is to enrich oneself not only by making a connection between then and now, but also maintaining that connection for the future.

On December 7, 1941 the Japanese bombed the American Navy at Peal Harbor, Hawaii and and pushed the United States into World War II. That is the “factual list” version. To find the “enrich oneself” version, we must look into the personal accounts of the soldiers & sailors who were there when it happened, keeping in mind that they were not merely eyewitnesses to history. They actually created it.

USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

It is becoming more and more difficult to investigate the experiences of those who made history that day because as years click by there are fewer and fewer Pearl Harbor veterans remaining. Of the approximately 60,000 service members who survived the bombing, less than 2500 are believed to be still alive. The youngest are now in their 90s, so the harsh actuarial math for an event seventy three years behind us is not hard to figure out: Within a decade, maybe a little longer, there will be no one left to talk about it.

That Pearl Harbor is on the cusp of a transformation from living to recorded history is not lost on the few remaining survivors. Retired naval officer and Pearl Harbor veteran Jackson Davis of Shreveport, Louisiana references this by tapping into wisdom collected over his 95 years of living: “We don’t hear much about Gettysburg anymore, or Bunker Hill. Or when the Normans took over England — we don’t hear much about that.” Mr. Davis’ observation, while true, skims over a larger point: The value of history is not measured by how popular a topic of conversation an event may be. He is correct that hardly anyone talks about the Normans invading England (which, by the way, was in 1066) as if it were a recent event.  Influences of the Norman conquest nearly 950 years ago can still be found embedded deep in the British psyche. Had the Norman invasion never happened, England would be a very, very different place today. That is why it matters. That is why it is worth talking about and remembering.

“We don’t hear much about Gettysburg anymore, or Bunker Hill. Or when the Normans took over England — we don’t hear much about that.”  -Pearl Harbor veteran Jackson Davis

It’s unlikely that yet-unborn Americans will be fully cognizant of how Pearl Harbor effects their world any more than The Battle of Bunker Hill (fought in 1775) enters our thoughts now, and it’s an unstoppable reality that there isn’t much time left for soldiers & sailors who lived through that dark day to give their first person testimony. Mr. Davis and his peers can be assured that the story they have been telling for that last 73 years will have no end. The heroes who were at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941 and served with such amazing valor will always matter. Their spirit and selflessness is the connection to the present; it’s the very essence of why their place in the permanent record was so rightfully earned. We may not always talk about it, but we will always live it. When the last Pearl Harbor veteran is silenced by the inevitability of time, history will take over and be their voice through the generations.