Truck memorializes 173rd Airborne in Roswell
July 18, 2007
| (click for larger version)|
The story behind the dazzling Red, White and Blue GMC truck is just as interesting as the controversy it has stirred.
The $100,000-plus vehicle is part of a larger memorial planned for Ft. Benning in Columbus at the National Infantry Museum, and as such is emblazoned with the names of 1,763 fallen 173rd Airborne Brigade soldiers.
The truck also commemorates the brigade's part in Operation Hump, a 1965, 400-man military Vietnam operation that saw 48 Americans killed after the soldiers were ambushed by 1,200 Viet Cong.
Recently, the event has become the subject for a song by the popular country duo "Big and Rich." Their song, named "Eighth of November," is based on the memories of their friend, Niles Harris of Deadwood, S.D., a survivor the ambush.
As fundraising for the memorial could take up to five years, Mike Bowsher, president of Carl Black Automotive and a friend of country crooners "Big" Kenny Alphin and John Rich, had the truck built as a temporary solution.
Bowsher said the truck has become "much larger than Carl Black." It has become a popular memorial for the "Flying 173rd" and will accompany Big and Rich when they are given the President's Award for Excellence in the Arts July 18 at the opening ceremonies of Vietnam Veterans of America's 13th biennial National Convention in Springfield, Ill.