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Sunday March 26th: A Military Jeep Kinda Day

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Climbing on Weasels at military shows is allowed, right?? But, Ann said it was a good idea!

Today was another great day of jeeps!

We began the day at Hotel Hovel (aka the Vacation Inn, a run down former Days Inn). It was neither the cleanest nor the best maintained place we’d ever stayed (peeling bathroom paint, linoleum glue stains on the walls, and caulk filling holes throughout), but, to its credit and despite our concerns, it turned out to be a very quiet place to stay. so, we weren’t sorry to say goodbye.


We began in Phoenix, drove to Mesa, then to Sun City, and finally to Palm Springs.

Our morning objective was the Southwest Military Transport show, organized by the Arizona Historical Military Transport Association. It’s President, until yesterday, was none other than our beloved Joe-in-Mesa aka Joe Snodgrass. His reign over the association came to an end in a coup or vote or something like that (or maybe he said he’d finished his term …). So, on Sunday, he had the time to show us around and meet some of the people from his friends. It was greatly appreciated!

The first thing I saw when we walked in the gate were a couple columns of military jeeps.

2017-03-26-smts1I didn’t realize just how many jeeps would be there, so that was a wonderful surprise! The earliest I saw was a slat grille.

There were MBs, GPWs, and at least one Higgins reconditioned jeep, too.



From the 50s, I saw an M-170, M-38A1s, M-38s, a Mighty Mite, and a beautifully restored CJ-V35U (below).

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One non-jeep that was interesting was an FAV (Fast Attack Vehicle) Prototype, one of only twelve made. The story is that the Army had been using drone dune buggies for target practice, but they proved difficult to hit. That’s when the light bulbs lit and a decision was made to test an FAV-style 2-seat buggy as a Rat-Patrol-like vehicle. You can read more about them here:


At one point, when Joe and I got separated from Ann (she was mesmerized by one of the planes), an older gentleman walked up to her and started talking with her. I later learned his name was Oliver “Ollie” Babbitts, a ninety-four-year-old survivor of Iwo Jima. He was with the 3190th Army Engineers maintaining the desalination equipment among other things. Ollie described how the remaining Japanese fought for almost a year after the Japanese surrendered. They lived in tunnels during the day and came out at night to carry out missions. Because the island was volcanic, the temperatures in the tunnels ranged from 90 to 200 degrees; he was amazed the Japanese survived there for so long. Ollie was full of interesting stories.


Apart from the vehicles outside, there was a hanger full of planes and parts sellers. Here’s Joe haggling with a vendor. He walked away with a bunch of f-marked GPW parts that he’ll likely be selling.


Joe and I discussing the finer points of some critical topic. I really don’t know what I was doing here .. maybe thinking?


One couple owned all the vehicles in these two rows:


The overhead photo I took from atop the Weasel:2017-03-26-smts6

After my stunt on the Weasel, the association kick us out. So, we sadly said our goodbyes to Joe and left for our next adventure, Sun City. There we met with Roger Gordon. He’d contacted me last month about his M-38 for sale, but by the time we arrived in Phoenix this weekend, he’d already sold it. Still, he invited us over to see it (the new owner hadn’t picked it up yet) and visit with him.

Roger, age 84, explained to us that he is busily selling everything so he and his wife can move to the big island of Hawaii, a place they visit frequently. He told us that he is ready to retire, to watch TV and relax. But after looking at his M-38 that just sold and after seeing pics of a VEC CJ-2A he sold a couple years ago, I suspect he won’t stay idle for long there. Roger and I didn’t get to chat for too long, but I quickly felt like he’s the type of guy who makes you feel you’ve known him for years.

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We didn’t stay long, as Roger had someone arriving to look at his house. We left in search of a place to eat. We found this well-rated Hawaii BBQ place. It was just what we needed.


We spent the remainder of the day driving into the sunset and dodging the crazy Californians heading back the LA basin. If you’ve ever done a Sunday drive west from Phoenix or from Las Vegas, you know what I mean. Vehicles with trailers can’t go faster than 55, so they stick to the slow lane, which means most of the traffic remains in the fast lane going between 70-90 (speed limit is 70 or 75). But, that isn’t fast enough for everyone, so the real speeders use the spaces in between the trucks in the slow lane to speed past the folks in the fast lane, then cut in, which then starts a chain reaction of braking in the fast lane. I remember doing this out of Vegas back in 2005. We were bumper to bumper going nearly 90-100mph. I was driving my BMW 540i at the time and was thankful for it’s speed and handling.

We arrived in Palm Springs and have a beautiful, but incredibly cheap place to stay (thanks Priceline!). Tomorrow we head to Riverside to fetch some DJ-3A axles, then we’ll head north toward western Nevada to do a little sight-seeing.


5 Comments on “Sunday March 26th: A Military Jeep Kinda Day

  1. Joe in Mesa

    Thanks for joining us Dave, and for such a fun write-up. So happy Ann could join you, take pics, and share some of her Air Force and Ordnance expertise :-).
    I ended up buying the whole table with the F-script GPW parts (Thanks, Vern!). I’ll take pics to share with eWillys readers… gotta recoup my “investment” 😉
    Safe travels as you journey back up North!

  2. David Eilers Post author

    Thanks for a great time Joe (and everyone else who took time to talk with us)! I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist those parts. We’ll get you back in the black ASAP!

  3. David Eilers Post author


    Thanks for the use of your Weasel! I knew I should have taken off my shoes before mounting it, but Joe said not to worry … 🙂

    = Dave

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