Veteran restores military jeepBy Stephen Dawkins Published 9:12am Sunday, May 25, 2014
As a Vietnam veteran, Junior Wilson knows the importance of the Memorial Day holiday, to honor those who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
Wilson also works to recognize and preserve the contributions of military vehicles, such as the M38-AI jeep he could be seen driving around Clanton last week.
The vehicle saw service in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.
Wilson has had the jeep, his second one, for about a year. During that time, he has rebuilt the running gear, restored the interior, installed new tires, rewired the electrical components and cleaned the engine compartment.
“It doesn’t have a whole lot of dirt on it,” Wilson said. “I’ve spent a lot of time keeping it detailed.”
Lettering on the jeep reads, “Shakin, Rattlin, Rollin.”
While there are many similar vehicles that owners falsely claim are military issue, Wilson said his is authentic, which is proved by some minor details.
There’s a base for a weapons mount, the instrument cluster and 24-volt battery system were only used for military jeeps, and the light switch features a special safety to ensure the driver wouldn’t turn the lights on accidentally (while part of a convoy in hostile territory, for example).
Also, the vehicle’s pedigree states that it was delivered to the U.S. Army in 1953.
Wilson is a member of the Dixie Division Military Vehicles Club, a group dedicated to the preservation of such vehicles.
“Otherwise, they’ll all end up in a scrapyard somewhere,” Wilson said. “I think they deserve it.”