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Friday, July 19, 2013

MVPA Convention in Portland, OR

Next week we travel to Portland to attend the Military Vehicle Preservation Association's (MVPA) annual convention.

We have attended this convention for the past several years and developed friendships with a number of  members. I first heard of the organization through Paul and Evelyn Harless from the Arkansas Chapter. Through them we met a wonderful group of people.

Joyce Faulkner and I featured Evelyn Harless in our book, Role Call: Women's Voices.

Joe and Rita Allison bring a group of vehicles to the Branson Veteran's Day Parade each year. Many of the veterans I've worked with have enjoyed riding with them in the parade.

Several of these veterans are no longer with us. Valdor John and Walter Whitcomb were both in the Sunchon Tunnel Massacre in North Korea in 1950. I will never forget Valdor John riding his wheelchair between two jeeps. A small boy stepped away from the crowd and handed him an American flag. Valdor remembered that until his death.

Walter Whitcomb loved riding in the jeeps, tossing candy to the kids and waving at the crowds. We lost him earlier this year and will forever miss his love of life. Billy Templeton, a Bataan Death March and Japanese "Hell Ship" survivor, wrapped up and rode in the parade on a very cold November day. He too has moved on to his eternal reward. Joyce Faulkner and I told their story in  Sunchon Tunnel Massacre Survivors. We also helped Billy Templeton tell his story in Manila Bay Sunset. Joe, Rita and the rest of the AR MVPA group gave these former prisoners-of-war a   fun experience and a joyful memory. One of the AR guys, Sedric Wirt, was also a former prisoner-of-war. We lost him a couple of years ago. The world is a little dimmer for losing these men who lived through so much but still gave of themselves. I was proud to call each of them 'friend.'

Jim Alexander, from the Portland, OR MVPA, made the trip to Branson for several years during Veterans Week to help photograph the events for the Branson Veterans Task Force publication, the Bugle. We are looking forward to seeing him at the convention and spending some time with him afterwards. He's one of those folks who, with a smile on his face, is always there to lend a helping hand. I've learned a lot about photography and kindness from him.

If you like old vehicles and have an interest in military history, the MVPA Convention is the place for you. The members buy and restore every imaginable type of vehicle. The love the vehicles and the history behind them. Each year the national convention is in a different location. Check out the MVPA website.

I will have a booth to sell my books at the convention and I look forward to seeing familiar and new faces. It's always a fun event.

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