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March 1946 U-Drive ‘Jeep Joint’

• CATEGORIES: Features, Old Images, Old News Articles

A March 29, 1946, article highlighted a Jeep U-Drive business that opened in Honolulu. The first surplus jeeps sold could only be bought for business use by veterans. Roy L. Mongeon, from Hampton, Massachusetts, who was stationed in Hawaii, decided to purchase twenty jeeps. After a number of soldiers asked to drive his jeeps, he decided to open a jeep rental business.

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4 Comments on “March 1946 U-Drive ‘Jeep Joint’

  1. John

    Genius business man. What a great story, definitely one to be bookmarked for me.

    $10 for 12 hours of driving a wartime Jeep? I wish!

  2. Joe

    In the late 1960’s, a Willys M38 was available for leisure use by active-duty personnel assigned to NavCommSta Honolulu located in Wahiawa, Oahu, HI. The jeep was painted red with an OD canvas summer top and was the duty-vehicle of a Navy Chief in charge of the Special Services Division on base. The jeep could be signed-out for personal use during off-duty hours with the only requirement that it be returned on-time and with a full tank of gas. A volunteer group of sailors (shade tree mechanics) maintained the vehicle on a daily basis to keep it in perfect shape.

    I had, on numerous occasions, signed out the jeep for touring around the island. On one of those outings, we drove through the Kole Kole Pass, on the western side of the island, in a heavy rain storm. The canvas top with open sides did offer some protection, but at highway speeds, the road spray from our tires quickly drenched us and coated the inside of the windshield. Visibility became worse when the vacuum wipers slowed to a crawl since we were driving an uphill grade and forced us to pull over. There seemed to be MORE water on the inside of the jeep and windshield than the outside but we didn’t mind and laughed the entire trip. We were soaked! Driving through places like that scenic pass made for memories of a lifetime in that old Jeep.

    I purchased my own surplus M38 a few years after being discharged from the Navy and still own it, 44 years now and counting…….. all because of those great experiences in that Special Services Jeep.

  3. Barney Goodwin, RM2 USN

    Joe,
    when I read your fine post, I just had to reach out to you. From 1972 – 1976 I was a Radioman stationed at NAVCOMMSTA San Francisco located Stockton CA in the valley. Worked Fleet center, Tech Control, and then as an E5 bid to a day job in Special Services for my last year. In late 75, we went to nearby Sharps Army Depot and got 2 Willys M38A1s as the Army was releasing many of them then. They were painted a light baby blue and decaled with U.S.NAVY SPECIAL SERVICES on the hoods. They were rented out by the day to go hunting with in the foothills of the mountains. A couple of sailors were sent to Captain’s Mast when they decided to do extreme off-roading with one and damaged it. (Special Services even rented the shotguns out). I owned and was doing Jeeps then myself long before I was affluent enough to own my Jeep parts business. There was a big Property Disposal Office on base and once I watch a trainload of Willys wagons, panels and trucks come on the base for auction – all from the Atomic Energy Commission. It was fun times and great duty!

  4. Joe

    Barney,
    Thanks for your reply and yes, it was great duty. I was a CT attached to the Naval Security Group Command in Hawaii and the RM’s worked in an adjacent building. Small world! I often wondered if my base was unique in providing a military jeep for leisure activity but I think you confirmed that Special Services provided this service at other bases, as well. It was also about timing of that era with the 60’s & the 70’s still strong surplus jeep markets that don’t really exist today as they did back then.

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