Custom Cars Honor Veterans

Kirsten Jansen, Staff Writer, Photographer

Have you ever seen cars that are dedicated to the military and those who have served? 

I hadn’t until Nov. 2 at the Auto Club car show held at Vincennes University in the Technology Center parking lot.  

Among the many different vehicles, there were two custom cars that really stuck out to me and others there as well because they had a story to them.  Owners Daniel E. Ryan and Robert E. Kirkpatrick Ⅲ both had tribute cars that belong to a military and first responders affiliated car club located in Evansville, Indiana.  The club has been running for 15 years now and there cars are only two of the many that belong to this club.  

So what makes these two so special and unique?

Let’s start with Ryan’s car and his story of why he took to this club and his vehicle choice.  He is actually a veteran himself and served in the same division as Forest Gump, the only difference he says is that he wasn’t shot while in service.  

His car is done in memory of all the prisoners of war, missing in action (POWMIA) which is actually embroidered on each head rest in the car.  Along with this it has a hand painted mural on the trunk of it that reads:

“Freedom isn’t free.”

There is also barbwire hand painted on the outside of the car that goes all the way around it. This vehicle is the only car in the Tri-State area that honors the POWMIA and hand painted.

“It’s a great car, when I park next to a Ford I put my chemicals on so it doesn’t rust,” Ryan said.  He loves his car and is very proud of what it represents.

Kirkpatrick Ⅲ’s car is a dual tribute to his wife’s family and his while also honoring men who flew the flying fortresses in WWⅡ.  The car had five veterans’ names on it of which one is a retiree and two people who didn’t even touch an airplane.

He himself was a civil engineer and his father-in-law was a medical logistic, so they never actually stepped foot in a plane.  

The car also has two gun barrels in front and back that are actual 50 caliber bullets.  The flight pilot’s check off list is inside as well.

He stated that,

“It’s the only B-17 tribute car known in existence.”

Honoring those who served and are currently serving is especially important during this time of year.  So much like these men are doing honor your veterans and make sure to thank them for their service.