When Jeeps Fly…

It’s Veteran’s Day today.  Like every year, a time for us to personally reflect and thank those we know and those we’ve never met for their service to the USA. Like last Veteran’s Day, jeepwaves.com is bringing you some interesting historical notes from WWII – Jeep related of course.

This year, it’s a story about when Jeeps fly…seriously.  Excerpts taken from the book Citizen Soldiers, by Stephen Ambrose, recall the first solo flight recorded in a Jeep.  In WWII, the US military had a sizable fleet of gliders used to deliver troops and equipment into battle, often behind enemy lines, by gliding in just above the ground. In March of 1945, a Jeep and a medic, Pvt. Wallace Thompson, were loaded into the front of a glider (likely a Waco CG-4A) with two pilots.  Then, things got interesting:

“Over the target, just a few meters above the ground, an 88 shell burst just behind Thompson’s jeep. The concussion broke the latches of the nose section, which flipped up and locked, throwing the pilots out.  The blast cut the ropes that held the jeep, which leaped out ahead of the glider, engine running, flying through the air at high speed, Thompson gripping the steering wheel with all his might.  He made a perfect four-wheel landing and beat the glider to the ground, thus becoming the first man in history to solo in a jeep.”

As if that wasn’t enough, after landing, Thompson proceeded to drive his Jeep over to the two pilots who were injured in the landing. He then treated their wounds, and drove them to an aid station.  A story of heroism from all involved and an impressive number for our beloved Jeep to boot!  A little reminder next time your Jeep gets “airborne” on the trail…it could be worse.

The rest of the book is definitely worth a read, but we thought this little excerpt would be a fun read and a good reminder just how intertwined the Jeep is with the history of those who defend our country.  So, as we pay respect to our Veterans today, give a Jeep a wave if you see one!