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military convoy 2Retired Army Sgt. Mark Ounan drives his restored 1918 Army staff car as Military Vehicle Preservation Association’s convoy of historic military vehicles made its way through northwest Ohio. Ounan noted that “Five of these cars went on the original convoy in 1919, and Eisenhower was on that trip with the Army so he probably rode in one just like it.” (Photo via the 106.3thefox.com web site)

MVPA 2019 100th Anniversary Transcontinental Motor Convoy in Iowa this week

By Mary Seely
via the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce (IA) web site 

The Military Vehicle Preservation Association continues its 100th Anniversary Transcontinental Motor Convoy this week, including a stop in Clinton, IA on August 22. The convoy of World War I and II military vehicles will be parked up on the riverfront between the Clinton Riverview Pool and the NelsonCorp Baseball Field from 2p-3:30p. Iowans can check out as many as 70 historic military vehicles as they retrace the route of the original 1919 US Army's Transcontinental Motor Convoy. 

The Military Vehicles are retracing the original 1919 US Army’s Transcontinental Motor Convoy route – along the famed Lincoln Highway. The MVPA Convoy launched from Washington, DC on 11 August, 2019 and will arrive in San Francisco, CA some 37 days later, on 14 September, 2019. The convoy made it's way west from the MVPA 44th Annual International Convention in York, PA on Saturday 10 August.

Over 50 Historic Military Vehiclesare expected to travel the entire 3,200+ mile coast-to-coast route with over 50 more vehicles joining in to drive a portion of the trip.

The Convoy will follow the original Lincoln Highway route as closely as possible. The route crosses all or part of 11 states from Washington, DC to San Francisco, joining the Lincoln Highway at Gettysburg, PA. The route begins on the lowlands of the eastern seaboard, traverses the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, travels the lush farmlands of the Midwest, crosses the high plains, dips into the Great Salt Lake Basin in Utah, crosses the Nevada Desert, climbs the Sierra Nevada and descends to Lake Tahoe, and ends in the splendor of California and the San Francisco Bay area.

This is a Convoy of Historic Military Vehicles – of all eras, from WWI through to current-issue military vehicles. The vehicle roster currently includes cargo trucks, through to Harley Davidson WLA motorcycles, staff cars and jeeps to later model M913 5-ton cargo trucks. The Convoy daily stopping points will be many of the same locations as the 1919 Convoy.

The Convoy welcomes the public to witness this historic journey across the U.S. by coming out to meet the Convoy as it travels through their area. As the Convoy passes through the cities and towns along this highway, the MVPA intends, with the cooperation of the Lincoln Highway Association, to draw attention to this early road system.

Additionally, the MVPA will present both the historical significance of the original 1919 Convoy and the historical significance of the military vehicles present on the 2019 Convoy. Finally, as this 2019 Convoy passes through the many towns along this route, the MVPA will take every opportunity to also say “thanks” to our Veterans in a most patriotic way!

In 1919, the US ARMY decided to plan and execute a motor Convoy of various vehicles across the country, on the newly-formed Lincoln Highway. In general, the route began at the White House, in Washington, DC and ended at Lincoln Park, in San Francisco, CA – some 3,250 miles and 62 days later. This would be the first motor transport Convoy – ever – to cross the US. The Convoy had the following objectives:

  • Put the equipment through as grueling a trial as could be devised.
  • Study how the varying road conditions affected each branch of the service.
  • A transcontinental recruiting drive for the Army.
  • Demonstrate the need for good roads.
  • … and the unwritten objective was … to say “thanks” to the American people for their support during WWI.

The Convoy left Washington, DC on 7 July, 1919 and arrived in San Francisco on 6 September, 1919. At that time, the Lincoln “Highway” was a series of roads with conditions that ranged from poured concrete to tracks across quicksand, tracks across alkali mud and across bridges that gave way under the weight of these vehicles. The trip was grueling and the daily average was 59 miles per day and about 6 miles per hour!

This Convoy consisted of 81 Army vehicles, with 37 officers (including a young officer, Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower) and 258 enlisted men. These vehicles included the following:

46 trucks, 5 ambulances, 11 passenger cars, 9 motorcycles 1 Maxwell caterpillar tractor, 2 ambulance trailers, 4 kitchen trailers, 1 pontoon trailer, 1 mobile searchlight … and the MILITOR (a huge recovery vehicle)

The 1919 Convoy was staffed with 37 officers and 258 enlisted men – including then Lt Col Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Convoy was comprised of 81 Army vehicles.

The MVPA (www.mvpa.org ) is an organization with its mission “To provide an international organization for military vehicle enthusiasts, historians, preservationists and collectors interested in the acquisition, restoration, preservation, safe operation and public education of historic military transport”. We have over 9,000 members globally and over 45 years as an organization. The MVPA is a registered US 501(c)(10) organization.

For more information contact the Military Vehicle Preservation Association at 1-800-365-5798 or visit our web site at www.mpva.org. Click on the Convoy Button on the top of the page. Click here to track the convoy's position.


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