Meet America at 30 miles per hour - June 14, 2009
June 18, 2009
<i>The following was written by Sgt. 1st Class Mark F. Ounan, an Active/ Guard infantry Soldier currently assigned to the 324th Military Police Btn., Chambersburg, Pa. Ounan is also the only current Soldier and Military Vehicle Preservation Association member taking place in the 2009 MVPA Convoy. Here's an exert from the journal he's keeping as he travels cross-country.</i>
Leaving Chambersburg, Pa., on the old Lincoln Highway, we immediately start to climb into the mountains. Most of the guys from the West Coast made fun of us Easterners when we called these mountains. But by the end of the day, Pennsylvania had earned their respect.
The Dodge had no problem climbing the mountains. It has a strong little engine; its downfall is its brakes. Being 91 years old, the car's brakes are very old-fashioned and didn't work that well on the first hill. Coming down into McConnellsburg, Pa., I was going too fast and couldn't stop the car in time to make a left hand turn at the bottom of the mountain. As everyone else made the turn, I shot past them and kept going straight. It took me about 100 yards to stop. After I pried my fingers off the steering wheel I turned the car around and caught up with the others.
We made a stop to see the Flight 93 memorial, where we had the chance to pay our respect to the heros of Sept. 11.
Things that have struck me on this trip are the similarities with the stories told of the original 1919 convoy's experiences. In 1919, many small towns were upset to find that they were left off the list of places that the convoy would travel through or stop in. It is happening again, the small town of Everett, Pa., was told that we did not have time to go through and stop. The town made a loud protest to the convoy coordinators and got put back on the list.
Everett did not disappoint. It makes you feel good when you see an entire town turn out to see you simply drive through. There are hundreds and hundreds of people lining the streets, and everyone is excited to see us. Then we moved on to Bedford, Pa., and a lunch break, put on by the historical society. Again, hundreds of people were there to greet us. We parked our trucks and half of us ate, while the others stayed by the trucks and talked to the public about the Army and how it used these vehicles.
The problem was, we were stopping in too many towns and talking to too many mayors, and we're falling further and further behind on our schedule. Sunday night we were supposed to arrive at Westmoreland Mall in Greensburg, Pa., at 5 p.m. We did not pull in until just after 7:30 p.m. There were at least 2,000 people in the mall parking lot, waiting to see us. Their excitement was electric, and they told us they were going to stay as long as it took until we got there. We talked with them until it got dark, and did not get to bed until after midnight.
Another great day on the road!