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This Old Jeep, Part 2

Submitted by listener John Gamble


So last I wrote I had brought us up to about where I was with my Jeep 6 years ago. Since that writing, life threw me another curve-ball, and my father passed away at the end of October. He was 89. Being born in 1931 he missed out on World War 2, but had five older brothers. One served in the cavalry (honest to god horses at that time) prior to the war, and at least three during WW2. As to the other, I think he was a Marine, but, I have to look into that. My dad went to Korea... he said you don’t know what cold is till you’ve wintered there.


What’s that got to do with us? Damn good question. The ones that served in WW2 saw first hand what Jeeps could do. Uncle Howard was a lift operator on an LST, He and his shipmates dropped off Jeeps, Tanks, and Trucks on the shores of Africa, Italy, and Normandy (yes on D-Day as well as many other days). Uncle Jim was a frogman in the Pacific, His job was to clear mines and establish clear points for the beachhead before the main landings. About all I know about Uncle Ralph was he was a Marine and served in both WW2 Pacific, and Korea. So after WW2, surplus Jeeps had found a way back to the families homes. I know there were at least two at any given time, and my dad mentioned he learned how to drive in one when the brothers took him deer hunting in northern AZ. Dad didn’t have much seat time wheeling, but uncle Howard sure did. I heard lots of stories about his deer hunting antics, his best friend and fellow service man who had the first Toyota dealership in Phoenix. He got in a bit of trouble when Toyota found out he was taking the factory carburetor off the new vehicles, and replacing them with Carters before selling them. He invited the executives out to see his facility. The two of them took the executives in new FJ40’s out, the buddies in a modified, and Toyota executives in a stock one. They were to follow up a hill climb to show them how their carburetor would perform on an incline.


Howard at this point was big into Land Cruiser. After his friend with the dealership semi retired, this friend acquired a wrecking yard, and they used to build FJ40’s out of wrecks. Many years later Uncle Howard found an obsession with Samurais, but he kept his favorite FJ40 around for its utility. Last time I saw him, he was living outside of Morristown AZ, and took me, my wife, and son, who was about 5, (now 27) for a little tour of the desert. It was wondrous to be with a guy in his late 60’s in a vehicle about 40 years old, going up and down wash embankments with not even tire tracks marking where he wanted to go in the old Yota. That evening we sat on the porch of his house, he told me some of his memories of his time on ship, while in Italy, and of D-Day. He choked up on the memories of seeing the Normandy beaches in the days of the following week. He said we owe it to the boys that gave up their lives to preserve our freedom, to not piss our freedoms away with soft sentiment, and we owe it to them to enjoy every minute we can of our lives, because servicemen gave up theirs to ensure our freedoms. My Dad and his brothers faced the hard parts of life head-on, but also took the time to play hard as well. He took us boating, snow skiing, hunting, fishing, and camping. We spent a lot of time going places, like Yellowstone, Yosemite, Shasta & the Grand Tetons.


With the holidays upon us remember those who can’t be with us at the dinner table, and enjoy the time which those that are with you today, as my dad used to say “life is too short to waste it with cheap wine.” So take the time now to enjoy what you like with who you like, and maybe some family.


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We are The Trailchasers Podcast, a weekly audio production show that highlights people, products, and services in the offroad and overland communities. We want to inspire you to go outdoors and chase your adventure. If you have a story to tell, we want to hear it.