Iraqi Veteran Thank You- A Covert Op
Every so often, mixed in with the news that makes you wonder where the human spirit is, you find news that’s uplifting and genuine. That’s the story of United States Marine Jared Foster and his 68 Camaro. This is the spirit we’re trying to capture at My Ride is Me.
During the Iraqi war, 24 year old Corporal Foster took a round in his back, effectively blowing him apart. After months in a coma and many surgeries, Corporal Foster returned to Arizona as a permanently disabled war veteran. Jared had a 68 Camaro he had left behind and a dream of restoring it even though his condition made it hard to get much work done. to keep things moving, he enlisted the help of John Bauler. John’s company, Hugger Connection, specializes in first generation Camaro restoration, so he was in good hands. It didn’t take long for John to realize that the Camaro was a BIG project. In learning about the car, John learned about a brave young man he affectionately calls, “The Kid” who had been wounded serving his country.
Not long after, John told the First Generation Camaros of Arizona car club about the project and that he wanted to help. He was quickly joined by the Cactus GTO club and before long, in total secrecy, Project Iraqi Veteran (PIV) was organized to harness the enthusiastic support and the generous donation of go-fast parts, labor and cash that was pouring in to help, Corporal Foster. In total, 28 companies and more than 100 individuals are listed as supporters of the PIV effort.
Some how, with all that help, they all managed to keep things secret. That made the March 2nd charity car show at the Commemorative Air Force Museum and Hanger at Falcon Field in Mesa, AZ even more special. The plan was to reveal the Camaro, Overhaul’n style. He was picked up by the MP’s and led to believe there was a colonel waiting to meet him. Sitting in a Hummer and led by police escort, Jared arrived in boots and fatigues to a packed hanger of folks like me, waiting to see our American Hero.
Not long after, to a warm mix of cheers and tears, the cover was lifted. There sat what was once a near basket case Camaro that to Jared’s knowledge was somewhere in painters hands to fix some mysterious primer mishap. He was more than surprised! To one-up the Overhaul’n crew, during the restoration, Jared had even worked on this own car! With a few other first gen Camaro projects going on at Hugger Connection, Jared had no idea he was cleaning and painting parts for his own car. Well done Mr. Bauler!
The secret reveal, the car show and the Air Museum were all great. Jared’s story and the generosity that surrounded this effort brought the attention of all kinds of car lovers and media. I spotted channel 5, 10 and Fox Sport’s Net’s Motorsports Mania show. I’ll be watching to see if they caught me, my wife and 2 kids piled into our roadster and to hear the details I missed of this story.
Today made me proud to be an American and I was happy to explain to my older son what it meant to sacrifice for something you believe in. Thank you to Jared and all the soldiers fighting for our country. And thank you to the show organizers and supporters who made this story happen. Finally, thanks to Bill Gilmore of Automotive Research Services who told me about this show and helped with this blog.
My spirit is in a fine state of repair.