By Story by Staff Sgt. Julio Nieves, 326th Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentNovember 28, 2012
READING, Pa. -- More than 1900 car washes in four different countries participated in an effort to offer free car washes to veterans worldwide during Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2012.
"Mike Mountz, the owner and CEO of Cloister Wash and Lube, vowed to help honor veterans when he served and saw first-hand amputees and seriously wounded servicemen at the Veterans Hospital in Valley Forge, PA" said Sharon Ramp Cloisters director of marketing department.
"I was happily surprised to receive a phone call from Mr. Mountz's marketing team, who just reached out to their local U.S. Army Reserve Center to see if we would like to partner with them in celebrating Veterans Day by bringing out some of our soldiers and equipment for their car wash event," said Major Mary Olodun, the 326th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment Commander and Reading Reserve Center Commander, "the Army Reserve, our warrior-citizens, and local citizens benefit greatly when we make joint efforts as neighbors in our communities."
"We didn't get any gratuity back in my day," said former Army Spc. Mike Erb, a Berks County resident and a Vietnam era veteran. People would call us names; they would want to fight us. "I remember traveling during leave in civilian attire and nothing that represented the military as it was strictly prohibited due to the violence against service members," he added.
These days our soldiers can wear their uniform anywhere and people will thank and applaud them for their sacrifices, said Erb. In these days, people really appreciate what our men in uniform have sacrificed, he added.
This gesture that Cloisters car wash is doing for all of us veterans is great, said Erb. I have been a Cloisters customer for years as a regular, but I especially like coming here on Veterans Day. It's great to see current Army personnel and equipment out here. It's not every day that you get to see up close a truck with five axles and 10 wheels that all steer simultaneously, he explained.
"This thing is amazing," said Erb referring to the Palletized Load System as Pfc Tyler Mcclucas a motor transportation specialist with the 733rd Transportation Battalion out of Reading, Pa, explained the capabilities of the PLS.
"People will just come up and ask what is this thing is for?" Explained Mcclucas. "I even had a 7-year-old boy come up to me and ask if he could sit in the driver's seat. Without hesitation I said sure as I helped him climb up the door. After a few minutes he climbed down of the truck his father shook my hand and said, 'thanks for all you do'. That was great feeling," added Mcclucas.
"We are trying to set an example for others to follow," said Joe Danver site manager of the Cloister wash and lube at Reading, Pa. The goal is to get every carwash to join us in this effort.
There is no limit on how many free washes we will give out to veterans on this day. We started washing cars at 7 a.m. and will continue non-stop until 5 p.m., added Danver.
This is the 8th consecutive year that we have been able to carry out this mission, said Ramp.
Thanks to Mike Mountz the founder of "graceforveterans.org" there are now more than 1900 car washes in four different countries giving out free car washes to veterans every year on Veterans Day, she added.
"Last year the organization washed a total of 119,317 vehicles across 4 countries; Canada, Australia, United States and New Zealand," explained Ramp. "We added 480 new wash locations to the program this year," she added.
Our local Veterans Affairs Legion is a major supporter of the event, said Ramp. They have volunteered their time to come out and help organize the event whether greeting people upon entering the facility or helping with the traffic flow, explained Ramp.
"Mike Mountz, owner of Cloister Wash & Lube and founder of the Grace for Vets Program continues to work on expanding it internationally and nationally to be able to honor military personnel for their service and sacrifices," said Ramp.