Antique military vehicle club holds patriotic parade

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - An antique military vehicles club held a special patriotic salute on the Fourth of July. The Mississippi Coast Watchers drove their vehicles down Highway 90 from Bay St. Louis to Gautier.

You may have caught a glimpse of the holiday caravan as they drove along the beach. These folks are passionate about preserving and sharing military history.

Sterling Blackham found his 1962 Dodge M37-B1 Army weapons carrier just six months ago.

"It was in Vietnam when I was off the coast on a ship. It was over there. I was very lucky to find this vehicle. And to find it in the shape it's in also. I haven't had to do anything but drive it," he explained.

And they certainly enjoy driving their prized vehicles.

This annual Fourth of July "flag run" took them from Bay St. Louis to Gautier. The parade made a pit stop at the foot of Courthouse Road, giving visitors a close-up look at these pieces of history.

"Reproduction copy of a 1919 Model T Ford that was run in World War One," said Jerry Dildy, about his special vehicle.

The Model-T comes complete with a field gear kit in the back.

"I put everything in there but the weapon," he said, smiling.

The owners enjoy every opportunity to show off their vehicles and share the history.

"And it's living history. It's not a picture. It's out actually working and functioning. They can sit in 'em, touch 'em, you know," said Kevin Kuehling.

How about a Swiss army vehicle? Pierre Willems has one.

"This was made in Austria. And they've sold them just about all over the world. This one actually comes out of the Swiss army," he explained.

Some of the club members search for a long time on line to find just that specific military vehicle they enjoy. They also enjoy taking them out and displaying them, especially on Independence Day.

By the way, the "watchers" name comes from a group of men and women who, "searched the skies and seas," for enemy planes and boats during World War II.

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