ABA Banking Journal - November 2013 - (Page 52)
Chairman and chief welder
Banker preserves military vehicles for future generations
For William H. Bauer, Jr., collecting
and restoring military vehicles has
become more than a hobby-it's
almost a full-time job. He balances
restoring and maintaining vehicles
with his job as chairman and trust
officer of $225.2 million-assets First
National Bank in Port Lavaca, Tex.
Two people-a former customer and Brett Mullins, who runs a
Jeep parts business and is president
of the Museum of the American
G.I.-were responsible for pulling
Bauer into military vehicle restoration. Bauer accompanied the pair
on a trip overseas to look for parts.
"And that was a bad mistake," he
jokes. "That's what got this olive
drab paint going in my veins."
Restoring vehicles-like this WWII Dodge Weapons Carrier Model WC-52-is a hobby
Bauer came home with 27 WWII
and an honor for William Bauer, who says "olive drab paint" runs through his veins.
trailers (the kind pulled by Jeeps),
what we call a 'nut-and-bolt restoraand the wheels of his hobby were officially rolling.
tion.' That means every nut, every
Soon after, he purchased and restored his first powered vehicle, a WWII
bolt, every seal, every gear, every
Willy's MB Jeep. He's since acquired ten more vehicles, including three tanks,
bearing-everything comes apart and
which he keeps in a climate-controlled, air-conditioned warehouse. Two of the
gets cleaned up, sandblasted, replaced
tanks are on display at the Museum of the American G.I.
if necessar y, whatever it takes.
Bauer has purchased only one of his vehicles overseas, a Vietnam War M38
So when they roll out of my shop,
A1C with a 106 Recoilless Rifle, which he found in Greece. It took seven trips
they're as good as when they came off
to that country over a 13-month period to find and purchase the truck, along
the assembly line in the 1940s."
with the recoilless rifle. "There's no sightseeing in these deals; you go, and you
Not only do the vehicles look
work," says Bauer.
assembly-line ready, but they run.
The banker ran into a bit of a challenge getting the recoilless rifle home,
Bauer is so busy restoring that it's not
despite the fact that it was deactivated. "We had to cut it in three pieces so [The
often he gets to take them for a ride.
Bureau of] Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms [and Explosives] would be happy," he
But they do come out every Veteran's
says. "Then, when you get it back, you can put it back together."
Day for the parade. "Some of the
All of Bauer's other vehicles have come from the United States through word
VFW, the American Legion, and the
of mouth, scrap piles, or museum sales. But finding the vehicles is not an easy
American G.I. Forum guys come and
task. "Part of the problem is that during WWII, everything this country made
drive for me. And some of the old,
was shipped overseas," explains Bauer. "They didn't bring any of it back."
old timers just ride-the WWII vetThe scarcity of these vehicles is part of the reason why Bauer spends so much
erans," he says. "This whole program
time and money preserving them-so that future generations can appreciate
is to honor those people, because that
them. He has a few people who help with the mechanicals and bodywork, and
really was a heck of a generation."
he often does the welding. But even with a group, the restorations are arduous.
-Ashley Bray, contributing editor
"Most of this stuff is pretty bad when you start restoring it," says Bauer. "I do
ABA BANKING JOURNAL
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ABA Banking Journal - November 2013
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ABA Banking Journal - November 2013