Military Convoy Rolls into El Centro to Welcoming Crowd

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(L-R) John Bate (co-pilot) and Alfred Stevenson (owner and pilot) aboard a 1962 Dodge M-37, 3/4 ton tactical military truck during the 95th Anniversary Convoy

EL CENTRO – Dozens of Historic Military Vehicles (HMV) traversed across the U.S., starting in Virginia, and into El Centro, Friday afternoon, to conduct the 95th anniversary convoy, retracing the original 1920 Transcontinental Motor Convoy route – along the Bankhead Highway.

The Military Vehicle Preservation Association (MVPA) entered El Centro and headed to Fire Station #3 with over seventy vehicles, where community members, officers, firemen and city officials welcomed the convoy on its 28th day of travel.

“This trip has been amazing. We started off cold and beautiful, and then we got to a little bit warmer and beautiful, and now it’s HOT and beautiful,” said Alfred Stevenson (Rooster).

Rooster was driving a 1962 Dodge M-37, a military ¾ ton tactical truck used to haul supplies to the combat area. The vehicle is equipped with an “O” flat head six cylinder engine, with a top speed of 45 mph. Most of the historic military vehicles are privately owned and restored by the owners.

”All trip expenses fuel, food and lodging are personally financed by each individual. The average cost per vehicle is $5,000 to $7,000,” said Stevenson.

The 29-day, 3,498-mile journey began on Saturday, September 19 in Virginia and ended on Saturday, October 17 in Cabrillo Monument Park in San Diego.

“The city of Fort Worth absolutely rolled out the red carpet for us and spoiled us rotten,” said Stevenson “In Dallas we paraded our vehicles through the middle of the Dallas fairgrounds during the state fair with all of the people there. It was an amazing experience.”

Most vehicles had a pilot and co-pilot and were furnished with beds, televisions, refrigerators, air conditioners and other amenities.

“This was my first convoy and I absolutely loved it, it has been quite an experience,” said John Bate. “I can’t wait to get back and share my stories with my wife and kids. I want to bring my wife to some of the cities we visited during this journey.”

Dog tags, t-shirts, and cups were available to purchase for those who wanted to have a memory of the historic event.

“This trip has been an absolute delight. I like to call it a 3,000 mile parade, people along the road were greeting us, waving flags, cheering us on, and seeing America at 30 mph is the way to go,” said Brat Nelson.

City officials welcomed the convoy with an early evening dinner where former military veterans shared their most cherished stories with those who attended.

The Military Vehicle Preservation Association was established in 1976, the non-profit MVPA is dedicated to providing an international organization for military vehicle enthusiasts, historians, preservationists and collectors interested in the acquisition, restoration, preservation, safe operation and public education of historic military transport.

The Historic military vehicles on the Convoy will range from WWI-era to those just released from the US Armed Forces inventories. These privately owned HMVs include motorcycles, jeeps and large cargo trucks.

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