BY NATALIE WINTERS
A group of Central Valley residents are working together to keep military history alive.
Don Gomes, one of the vice presidents for the Military Vehicle Club of California (MVCC), coordinates with MVCC members and individuals who own military vehicles to organize and participate in parades, as well as what he describes as convoys throughout the state.
“We restore military vehicles so they can run; we do a lot of parades and have veteran parades that we make sure they are able to be a part of,” said Gomes. “If there are veterans that need rides, can’t drive or don’t have the vehicles we usually carry them.”
The MVCC is mainly comprised of California residents but it is open to anyone interested, regardless of where they reside. It’s a non-profit organization of collectors and historians interested in encouraging the acquisition, restoration, preservation and public display of historic military vehicles and uniforms of all types.
“There are a lot of military vehicles out there so I try to encourage people to join the club,” said Gomes. “There are some older [vehicles] and there is newer stuff as well, from the 80s and 90s—but a lot of us have some older stuff like World War II and the 40s.”
Gomes is the vice president from Sacramento to Bakersfield, covering many counties. He spoke of two of their biggest MVCC events that occur at Tower Park in Lodi.
“For one event we had over 55 vehicles in a row going all the way down Highway 12 into Lodi—it was overwhelming, but it worked out and was a nice turnout,” said Gomes. “Everybody was happy because they hadn’t been out in about 10 or 15 years, and they want to drive them. A couple vehicles broke down but we hooked chains to them, cables to them, whatever we could pull with. They’re old vehicles—sometimes they act up.”
Around 300 MVCC members camp at Tower Park at their annual event in April and there are roughly 100 vehicles there as well. The campsite acts as a swap meet where vendors come and sell parts for restoration. People dress up in military uniforms and a lot of people reproduce the clothes and uniforms that were worn, some being original garments worn during war.
“It’s always a good time,” said Gomes. “We like to get the members out to do something with the history they collect and we’re able to showcase it.”
For more information, visit www.mvccnews.net.