World War II ended when the Japanese officially surrendered on Sept. 2, 1945, aboard the battleship USS Missouri.
CJ’s cousin MB had served the armed forces faithfully and beneficially.
But CJ was exempted from the armed forces and went to work across the United States, mainly in agriculture situations.
CJ-2A was a Willys Jeep that became the first civilian vehicle of its kind. Today’s modern descendant is the Jeep Wrangler.
Another example of a specially built military vehicle making the transition to civilian use was the Humvee. The civilian name as we know it is the Hummer.
The initial models of these vehicles were designed specifically for the military and were the first all-terrain vehicles that carried communications as well as weapons in battle. They have our admiration, but they also deserve credit for helping our armed forces through the years.
And Charlie and Pat Sims have taken their 1946 Willys CJ-2A Jeep and made a memorial of it.
Many motorists traveling on Interstate 37 just north of U.S. Highway 59 may have noticed the lone Jeep sitting in a pasture with the U.S. flag flying from a pole mounted on its rear bumper.
Once you notice the Jeep, you’ll always check to see it again on your way back or when you’re traveling I-37 again.
Charlie says it was Pat who wanted a flag pole out in the pasture.
“I put a pipe for a flag pole on the old Jeep and drove it out there,” Charlie says.
“It’s become a landmark: ‘The old Jeep with the flag on it,’ is what they say,” Charlie says.
Pat says she and her husband began taking the Jeep out to the pasture in 2000, but then they would bring it back to the garage.
So in 2002 they decided to leave the Jeep near their pasture’s fence line as a memorial.
“It’s a salute to the veterans and our law enforcement,” Charlie says.
He added that on occasion they use the windshield as a billboard, too.
One sign said “Give ‘em hell, George W.” And a more recent sign said, “God Bless you Clovis Ray,” a tribute to the fallen Three Rivers veteran, who died in Afghanistan earlier this year.
Pat says she remembers a couple who had to be in their 80s trying to get over the fence to take a photograph with the Jeep.
“At Christmas, the H-E-B truckers will honk ‘Jingle Bells’ when they go by,” Charlie says.
He added that a tour bus stopped once and those aboard were shouting and waving.
“We get tons of attention. A lot of people would stop and want to buy it,” Charlie says. “It’s not for sale.”
And during Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Charlie says he guesses it’s veterans who stop and salute the flag.
“My dad was in the military and my wife’s dad was in the military,” Charlie says.
Pat bought the CJ-2A for Charlie on Father’s Day in 1999. She bought the classic Jeep for $1,200.
The vehicle was sold by Eddie Smith, at that time the pastor of First Assembly of God church across from Wolff’s on I-37.
“He had found it on some ranch,” Charlie says.
The Jeep was used on a deer lease before it stopped running.
“It had been there for years. It wasn’t running at the time, but I got it running,” Charlie says.
“I did a bunch of work on the front end, the engine and carburetor,” he added.
The Jeep has a 134 cubic-inch, 60 horsepower motor, a motor referred to as a “Go Devil.”
“It’s never seen war, but it survived WWII and Y2K,” Charlie says, laughing.
One problem Pat and Charlie have had is periodically replacing the U.S. flag.
“We have to replace the flag every three to four months because it gets whipped out,” Charlie says.
He added that his pet peeve is seeing the U.S. flag torn to pieces and whoever is flying it does not replace it.
Charlie plans on showing his 1950 Chevrolet in this year’s Classic Car Show at Storyfest, but the CJ-2A won’t be there.
“It’s never been in a car show,” he says.
He says the Jeep needs a lot of body work before it would pass to go to a car show. But he might restore it one day, he figures.
He says he loves Storyfest.
“I don’t want the car show to overshadow Storyfest,” he says.
That’s why the classic car show’s participants are kept to a maximum of 40 cars.
“Storyfest is the attraction, not the car show, but we will keep doing a car show as long as Storyfest wants it,” he said.
On another note, he says Live Oak County is a prime area for a major car show, one that would have hundreds of classic cars.
Charlie says he might try to organize one of those shows, but it would never conflict with Storyfest.
And maybe old CJ might see a show one day, as well.
“Having the CJ-2A has been fun,” he says.
“It’s been some kind of pleasure.”