The Iconic Jeep at Tuckerton Historical Society

May 24, 2017
Photo by: Pat Johnson Jeff Brown and his 1942 army Jeep.

The United States and its allies would have won the war against Nazi Germany without having the Jeep in its arsenal, but it would have been a lot harder. For Saturday, May 20, Armed Forces Day, the Tuckerton Historical Society was again glad to welcome Southern Regional High School history teacher Jeff Brown back to the Giffordtown Schoolhouse Museum to give a talk about the iconic Jeep; he brought his own 1942 Ford Jeep along to illustrate.

He bought it from a collector three years ago because he always wanted a World War II military vehicle and didn’t want a tank, he said. “It’s a neat way to connect to the past.”

There were three companies that manufactured the Jeep for the war: American Bantam designed the first, but Ford and Willys Overland had the ability to mass-produce the car for the military. Between 1941 and 1945, Willys produced 360,000 Jeeps and Ford another 280,000.

The Jeep was indispensable for moving troop commands about and also had a back seat that could be converted to a stretcher to move wounded soldiers.

Brown was not able to say for certain whether his Jeep was in the war, but he thought it most likely remained stateside, perhaps doing duty at Fort Dix. “It’s a service history mystery. I found it in Manahawkin, and the previous owner had no idea where it might have been,” said Brown.

“To find a complete Jeep is like finding bones in ice cream, as my dad used to say,” said Brown. “It’s a very versatile, adaptable vehicle.”

For instance, the headlights can be reversed to light the motor and allow the driver to make repairs in the field.

But it’s not the safest vehicle to drive. It would never pass inspection today, but as a historic vehicle, Brown can drive it in parades and for short trips. “It can’t be a daily driver, and it has to be garaged. When I drive it, I’m very careful. There is only a single rearview mirror. There are no seat belts, and – something I try not to think about – the gas tank is under the driver’s seat.”

Jeeps also lean to the left because the motor, gas tank and driver are all on the left.

Old stock and parts are always available; that’s a good thing about restoring military Jeeps.

Brown suggested those interested in military vehicles should visit the Military Technology Museum in Wall Township.

He has been a great supporter of the Tuckerton Historical Society. He has given lectures on various topics of World War I and World War II and does this at no charge.

The programs held at the Giffordtown Schoolhouse Museum are always free, though donations are accepted. The next program is Aug. 19 from 2 to 4 p.m., when society Vice President John Yates talks about the Tuckerton Wireless, once the second-tallest structure on Earth, which was anchored in the Mystic Island meadows by huge concrete blocks.

Also, the society’s annual Appraisal Day is June 17 at the museum, at 35 Leitz Boulevard in Little Egg Harbor. Richard Plunkett, the “Wizard of Odds,” and Mathew Pizza of Waretown Stamp and Coin will appraise items for $5 each item or $10 for three items. This program is also from 2 to 4 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Tuckerton Historical Society.

— Pat Johnson


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