CHICAGO (Feb. 14, 2012) -- The U.S. Army brought boots on the ground for a sixth year to the 2012 Chicago Auto Show at the McCormick Place Convention Center. This year marks the 104th edition of the 10-Day Auto Show that runs Feb. 10-19 and showcases a piece of the U.S. Army's history, along with bringing its vision for the future to the U.S. Army Exhibit.

Opening day kicked off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony conducted by the Chicago Auto Trade Association executive board and directors, Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, and the Cook County Board President, Toni Preckwinkle. Shortly after the opening ceremony, Gov. Quinn arrived to the U.S. Army exhibit, and briefly met with Soldiers, the Commanding General of U.S. Army Recruiting Command, Maj. Gen. David L. Mann, and Gen. George S. Patton's 1938 Cadillac staff car, on loan for the first time from the Patton Museum at Fort Knox Kentucky.

On Dec. 9, 1945, Patton was on a pheasant-hunting trip with his Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Hobart Gay. Patton was in the back seat of the vehicle as they were hit by a 2 ½ ton truck driven by Tech. Sgt. Robert L. Thompson. Patton was thrown forward, smashing the clock that was mounted in the back of the front seat.

He was immediately paralyzed and later passed away at a military hospital in Heidelberg, Germany, but not before forgiving the drivers of both vehicles. According to its curator, Nathan Jones, this was the first time that the car left the Gen. George Patton Museum of Leadership since they acquired it in 1951.

"I want to make the collection more accessible to the public for an opportunity to experience a piece of American history," said Jones.

Alongside Patton's staff car was one of the Army's new lightweight, diesel-electric concept hybrid vehicles, the Clandestine Extended Range Vehicle, or CERV, designed by Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide and the U.S. Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center, known as TARDEC. The intended use for the CERV is for targeting, reconnaissance, and rescue sorties, with a traveling speed up to 80 mph, and with a capability to travel in a silent mode under 8 mph.

Silently engaging crowds near the vehicle of the future was the Soldier of the future, Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Oliver, U.S. Army Accessions Support Brigade's Mobile Exhibit Company, at Fort Knox, Ky. Outside of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM vehicle, Oliver was suited in a hard-shelled military outfit as an example of what a Soldier may look like in the year 2032. Prior to entering the modified tractor-trailer, Oliver explained that this concept takes visitors through a futuristic environment to possibilities for the Army in the future.

Other future Soldiers were also found with Staff Sgt. Robert L. Olson III, a drill sergeant at Fort Benning, Ga., as he took the center of the exhibit with the Drill Sergeant Exhibitor Program at the Strength and Action Zone, by running Army new recruits through the pull up bars and push up contest. Spectators, young and old, were attracted and also wanted a taste of Army Basic Combat Training.

"It's never too late to get fit," said Olson.

Crowds merged as the new Army recruits marched to the center stage as they took the oath and followed up in reciting the Oath of Enlistment.

Pvt. 1st Class Kevin Cronin, Valpraiso, Ind., who was scheduled to depart for basic combat training Feb. 13, discussed his thoughts in joining the Army.

"I've taken another step in achieving my goal," said Cronin. "It (Army) makes you a prouder person. It brings respect and people look up to you, and that's a great feeling."

Page last updated Tue February 14th, 2012 at 00:00