The oldest was a 1918 Dodge Brother U.S. Army staff car, owned by Mark Ounan, Gettysburg, Pa. There were also military vehicles from the 1940s and ’50s, with the newest vehicle a 2011 released from military service.
Terry A. Shelswell, Military Vehicle Preservation Association (MVPA) convoy projects leader and convoy commander, of Holly, Mich., explained, “I’m the convoy commander for this 2021 MVPA Yellowstone Trail Historic Military Vehicle Convoy.”
He said the MVPA is an international group of historic military vehicle enthusiasts that restore and preserve historic wheeled vehicles and educate the public on the importance of the vehicles and “our veterans that may have used them. We seek out and salute our veterans and our service personnel and our first responders at every opportunity.”
The convoy started in South Dakota on the Yellowstone Trail, which Warsaw is a part of. The trail travels from Seattle, Wash., to Plymouth, Mass.
“This convoy has us traveling just a section of it, from Aberdeen, S.D., through the northwest corner of Ohio,” he said.
The Yellowstone Trail is one of the earliest – if not the earliest – named road that was transcontinental, Shelswell said. It was established in 1912.
He estimated there were 32 vehicles in the convoy in Warsaw Tuesday. Each vehicle is privately owned and maintained.
Shelswell’s vehicle, a 1952, is the lead in the convoy. Most of them had identification placard on them to show where the owners are from and what the vehicle is.
“Every place we stop like this, we consider it a static car show,” he said. “We invite the public to come see us and, of course, our veterans.”
If anyone is interested in checking out the convoy’s route or learning more about MVPA, Shelswell said they can go online to mvpa.org. The convoys page on the website has the route map posted. “We also have a transponder on one of the vehicles that tells how we’re progressing along that,” Shelswell said.
On Tuesday, they were traveling 165 miles. Normally, he said, they travel about 140 to 160 miles. Monday was a light day – about 80 miles – because they went to a car show in Michigan.
After their stop for lunch at the Warsaw VFW, Shelswell said they were going to make their way along the Yellowstone Trail to Fort Wayne where they would stay overnight. After leaving Fort Wayne, they planned to head northeast through Indiana, through Hicksville and stopping for lunch in Toledo, Ohio, overnighting in Sandusky, Ohio.
Shelswell said not all the drivers, including himself, were veterans, but a number of them were.
Along the way, he said, “We will present ourselves to each of our hosts. We programmed all of these ahead of time. Contacted places like veterans groups, like VFW here or American Legion, but as far as fundraisers, no. We’ve been the recipient of donations, which we’re deeply appreciative of. But, we don’t ask for handouts. We pay our own way and we really want to say thank you to our veterans, and to show people what these vehicles are able to do, and let people maybe think about their father or grandfather or brother who was a part of the Armed Forces and maybe used one of these vehicles when they were in federal service.”
The largest international historic military vehicle group, the MVPA includes roughly 8,000 members and nearly 100 affiliate groups in the United States and around the world, according to the website. With less than 100 members in 1976, the Military Vehicle Collectors Club (MVCC) was a splinter group organized by members of the previously formed National Military Vehicle Collectors Association. In 1990, the MVCC changed its name to the MVPA. MVPA is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Independence, Mo.
“The MVPA, its logo is ‘History in Motion,’ and we exemplify that with this convoy,” Shelswell said. “Again, thanks to our veterans and our current service personnel and our first responders.”