A military Jeep was restored as a tribute to veterans of all branches of United States military service, as well as today’s men and women who are presently on active duty, serving our country. In the 2014 Fort Atkinson Memorial Day observances, World War II veterans Bernard Neuzil and Arthur Rausch were honored for their service by riding in the back seat of the Jeep. Bob Klimesh, a Navy veteran rode in the front along with the owner and driver, Dean Byerly, an Air Force veteran.
Air Force Veteran Dean Byerly of Fort Atkinson drove his restored 1948 Jeep CJ2A in the Memorial Day parade after he restored the jeep so he could give some of the older World War II veterans a ride during the annual Memorial Day parade.
The Wyllis Motor Company built a civilian version of the Jeep of World War II fame beginning in 1946. The difference included a six volt ignition system without waterproof ignition and conventional headlights and tail lights. Otherwise, the body shape and size of the CJ2A is nearly identical to the war time Jeep.
Dean explains in detail about his restored Jeep, “The Four wheel drive and the high-low range transmission features were retained, as well as the simple, rugged go anywhere construction. The WWII Jeep did the job that had been done by pack horses in WWI. Jeeps were often called the most important ground power vehicle of the war. The Jeep Wrangler of 2014 is the great, great grandson of the military Jeep of WWII.”
Dean purchased his Jeep at an estate auction near Guthrie Center, Iowa. Since it was over 60 years old and had been in Iowa all that time, it had typical rust and deterioration of old vehicles in the Midwest. “As any old vetera, the Jeep has suffered from many aches and pains. Extensive repairs and replacements of parts were required to return the Jeep to driving condition. The restoration process took over three and a half years by the Byerly’s and with help from several local businesses including Jerry’s Auto Body, Jerry Fisher, and Jay’s Automotive.”
The Jeep is painted US Air Force blue with lettering of a late 1950’s squadron located at Kirtland Air Force Base in new Mexico. Most Air Force Jeeps were painted Army Olive Drab, but a significant number of special used Jeeps were painted Strata Blue (Air Force Blue).
We are thrilled that our older veterans are riding in style in our local parades.