FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — In 2010, Dan Martin organized the first Historic Vehicle Rally at the Great Place during Veterans Day Weekend. Thirteen years later the event continues on Columbus Day weekend, allowing the vehicle owners to share their passion for the military and ride their vehicles through trails on the training range here.
On Oct. 6, the historic military vehicles were on display in front of the Clear Creek Exchange. Visitors that were coming in and out of the Exchange stopped to admire the many vehicles on display and speak with their owners. Visitors were also able to sit inside some of the vehicles and take photos.
“This day is for us to give to the Soldiers and families that do their jobs everyday,” Martin said. “Ever since we’ve been coming to the (Exchange) it’s just a fantastic venue. So many people come back and forth.”
Aside from the vehicles, there were a plethora of smaller items of historical significance to look through including camera equipment, cookbooks, magazines, a typewriter, maps and tools. Visitors were allowed to pick up some of the items and examine them closely while learning more about them from their owners.
“One guy started looking through the cookbooks,” Martin shared. “He was really fascinated with the cookbooks. He was like, ‘This is great to see this out here.’”
Martin was inspired to do events like the static display while he served, and he strives to be a “caretaker of history.” It is important to him that the visitors had the experience of holding a tangible piece of history in their hands.
“Once it goes behind glass in a museum nobody’s ever going to touch it again,” he said. “To see a kid’s face light up when you hand them something that makes it real and you see that spark of interest — that’s always fascinating for us.”
Mike Wagnon, who served in the Air Force for 16 years, had a vehicle malfunction before the event. Though he couldn’t bring his vehicle, he still attended and shared information about some of the special items he brought, including an Allegheny Plastics X-1 Air Navigation Local Hour Angle which helped pilots navigate using the stars.
“This has major star names on it,” he explained. “Through this you can, from where you are, turn to where that star is … then it’s a matter of trigonometry. You can figure out where you are on the planet. It’s very necessary to have things like that to be able to find where you are on the planet in the air.”
Martin said Wagnon and the others who brought their vehicles and items love to speak with Soldiers and that’s what makes the event so enjoyable.
“They love to meet Soldiers,” he said. “They love to meet Soldiers’ families. They love to find out what their experiences are and kind of relate it to their own. In some cases, (the vehicle owners) didn’t serve … but they’re here to support the population.”
The vehicle ralliers spent Oct. 7 and 8 driving their historic military vehicles through the training area.