Trucks roll out for the kids
By RANDY GONZALES
The 14th annual Go, Truck, Go event Thursday evening in the Hays High School parking lot had more than just trucks for kids to climb in and honk the horn.
There were big trucks from the Ellis County Public Works Department, joined by police cars, ambulances, fire trucks -- one with its big crane reaching up into the sky -- and there was a World War II jeep.
Ronald Burnbridge brought his 1942 Ford Jeep from Russell. It took him approximately two years to find it, finally on the Internet in 2012.
"You can find them, but they're junk," he said. "You have to rebuild it."
Burnbridge bought his jeep in Tulsa, Okla, in almost-new condition. Burnbridge just had to replace the shock absorbers, muffler, tailpipe and voltage regulator.
"It was in excellent shape," he said.
Burnbridge also pleasantly was surprised when he lifted the seat cushion on the passenger side to clean it. Underneath it was World War II graffiti "Kilroy was here" with the famous doodle alongside it -- a bald-headed man with a prominent nose peering over a wall with his fingers clutched to it.
"I thought that would increase the value of this vehicle, probably because of that," Burnbridge said.
The jeep used by American soldiers in World War II and the Korean War already had sentimental value for Burnbridge, 86, who was a Marine infantryman in Korea.
"I drove a jeep over there," he said. "The only difference, it had a 30-caliber machine gun mounted in the back of it."
Burnbridge, who said he drove the jeep on night patrols, was part of the First Marine Division that landed in Inchon in September 1950. They eventually battled Chinese Communist troops at the battle of Chosin Reservoir during 17 days, starting in late November 1950.
"We were told it may be a miracle if we all got out, but we did," Burnbridge said.
Another enemy was the bitterly cold weather.
"Our weapons froze, our artillery shells would fall short because of the cold air, food froze, water froze," Burnbridge said. "And if you got hit and laid (down) for any length of time, you froze."
On this late spring evening, the temperature was mild and the sky was blue. And kids took turns sitting at the wheel of Burnbridge's jeep.
Steven and Sheresa Brull, Ellis, brought their three young children before heading home for a T-ball game.
"It's nice, gives the kids a chance to see the trucks inside and out, up close," Steven Brull said.
Their oldest child, Grace, 7, said she liked the dump truck. Her sister, Eliana, 6, liked the jeep.
Their mom, who is coaching Eliana's T-ball team, said it was fun for the kids to climb around the vehicles, especially for their son Henry, 3.
"It's something Henry, especially, is interested in," Sheresa Brull said. "The girls, it's not something they see every day.
"We enjoy it."