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October 19, 2017

Military Convoy Through Luther


We interrupt this national debate about knees and flags and anthems to bring you a convoy. A rainy Tuesday morning in Luther brought a little joy when a parade of antique military vehicles rolled down Highway 66 as part of a cross-country celebration of veterans, the military and Route 66 through the MPVA, the MIlitary Preservation Vehicle Association. 

The convoy of antique vehicles driven by veterans, collectors and proud Americans is taking a Mother Road tour which began in Chicago and will end up in Santa Monica. That’s 2,600 miles. The Oklahoma jaunt of the tour rolled through Luther between stops in Chandler and at Pops in Arcadia.

The group members pay for their own fuel and meals. But the lead driver said that sometimes a fuel truck will show up at a rest stop to top all of the tanks. And VFW’s and other groups will provide food and respite along the way.

“World War II caused a marked decline in civilian and tourist traffic, but it stimulated new business along US 66 when it acted as a military transport corridor moving troops and supplies from one military reservation to another. Motels saw an increase in occupancy, as families of servicemen stationed at military bases stayed for long stretches. But more significantly, Route 66 facilitated perhaps the single greatest wartime mobilization, as thousands of jobseekers headed to California, Oregon and Washington to work in defense plants,” according to the MPVA Convoy Ahead news release.

The release also said, “Route 66 had its official beginnings in 1926 when the Bureau of Public Roads launched the nations’s first Federal highway system. Like other highways in the system, the path of Route 66 was a cobbling together of existing local, state and national raods. The highway quickly became a popular route because of the active promotion of the US 66 Highway Association, which advertised it as “the shortest, best and most scenic route from Chicago through St. Louis to Los Angeles.

“The original 1926 route began in Chicago traveling through MIssouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona before entering Santa Monica, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles.

“MPVA is conducting a 91st Anniversary Convoy with as many as 80 Historic Military Vehicles (HMVs) that will retrace the original 1926 Route 66. It launched from Chicago on September16 and is expected to arrive in Santa Monica 29 days later on October 14.”

The Luther Register caught the convoy on FB LIVE. The surprise broadcast gathered more than 3,000 viewers. Along the route, folks have been cheering on the convoy and pausing to reflect on American military (and Route 66) history.

You can watch it again here.

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