FORT HOOD — Military history was alive at Fort Hood on Friday morning as collectors displayed restored military vehicles and equipment for the community.
“Growing up as a kid, my dad taught me to build models,” said Bob Shaw of Killeen, while standing near his World War II-era jeep built in 1944 by the Willis Company. “When I got older, I thought, ‘Why build little things to go on shelves, when I could build a one-to-one scale and drive it?’”
As part of a garrison commander-approved historic military vehicle rally, Shaw will get to drive his jeep on the range roads of Fort Hood this weekend along with other participants. Friday’s display on TJ Mills Boulevard offered a variety of restored vehicles, weapons and equipment from collectors across the country.
Ken Smith, a Vietnam War veteran from Silsbee, displayed a Korean War-era jeep that took him four years to restore. He’s attended the Fort Hood rally since it began in 2010.
“I like to put it in low gear and climb the hills — really see what it can do,” he said.
Aside from taking vehicles for a spin, participants also will get a chance to shoot vintage weapons at an on-post range.
“I brought several weapons, most of which I’ve never fired,” said Lt. Col. Dan Martin, who is assigned to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, pointing out a reconfigured M-1919 A4 machine gun and a 303 Enfield Rifle.
Michael Myers, 13, also took a keen interest in the weapons on display, even climbing into an old jeep to get a feel for the machine gun mounted to the back.
“I love learning about the weapons and the history. I love to see the calibers of weapons, and all the planes, tanks and personal equipment,” he said, adding it all looked a lot less comfortable than the equipment his father uses today in the Army.
Michael’s mother, Heather Myers, who home-schools her four children, said she was appreciative of the historical display, which she used as a field trip.
“It’s an amazing history lesson,” she said. “These guys have committed their resources and time to show off their stuff and that is invaluable to me.”
Aside from learning about equipment, Martin also talked the Myers kids through a display of the D-Day invasion, letting them hold the same weapons soldiers carried and the helmets they wore, to feel and experience the weight of it all.
“That’s understanding history,” Martin said. “For me it’s seeing that spark, that light in someone’s eyes.”