Rural Missouri - November 2013 - (Page 14)
homage to fallen
citizen soldiers with a
ROLLING TRIBUTE TO FREEDOM
Jim Schulte, front right, with help from his friends Norb Bax, left, and Jim Kempker, transformed his 1979 Chevy pickup into the "Minuteman," which is dedicated to the nine
Missouri Guardsmen who have been killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2006. The vehicle is more than ceremonial, transporting wounded warriors during special hunts.
by Jason Jenkins
arked under an elm tree in the backyard,
the old Chevy pickup had been put out to
pasture. If you listened closely at night, you
could practically hear it rusting away. Its
days as a productive farm vehicle seemingly were in
its rearview mirror.
But Jim Schulte had different plans for his fatherin-law's old truck. He could see through the 3/4-ton
Chevy's faded red paint, its pitted chrome and rusted out fenders. Beneath the assortment of dents and
dings, he believed an engine could still roar.
"Initially, I thought it'd be a toy for the farm,"
says the Callaway Electric Cooperative member from
New Bloomﬁeld, who enlisted help from his friends,
Jim Kempker and Norb Bax, to transform the fourwheel-drive truck. "And then I went on a wounded
What began as an after-hours project for three
friends quickly evolved into a labor of love as this
trio of current and former Missouri National Guardsmen embarked on a mission of greater signiﬁcance.
The truck, which they have dubbed the "Minuteman," memorializes the nine guardsmen who have
been killed in action in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2006.
Schulte, who retired earlier this year as the state
command sergeant major, the top enlisted position
in the Missouri National Guard, ﬁrst envisioned
turning the 1979 Chevy into a military-style
rock-crawling vehicle. The truck's frame needed to
be shortened, however, so he took it to his friend,
Jim Kempker, in the fall of 2011.
A machinist from Jefferson City who works full
time at the Missouri Guard's maintenance shop,
Kempker cut 30 inches from the frame rails. By early
2012, Schulte and Kempker were joined by Norb
Bax, another friend and retired Missouri Highway
Patrol and Missouri Guard mechanic. Each Tuesday
night after work, the men would gather at Kemp-
ker's home garage and work on the
the transmission shifter, while a dummy pinetruck, which was nothing more than
apple grenade serves as the knob on the transfer
a rolling chassis to begin.
case shifter. Ammo boxes double as armIn March 2012, a few months into
rests between the front seats. The most
the project, Schulte went on a hog hunt in
important feature of the Minuteman,
however, are the dog-tag-shaped plates
Arkansas organized for wounded warriors.
commemorating Missouri's citizen
The off-road utility vehicles the huntsoldiers who have been killed in action
ers employed weren't well suited for the
during the war on terrorism.
terrain, nor were they comfortable for the
"The goal is to honor those guys who
veterans. The experience gave Schulte all
paid the ultimate price, to never let them be forgotthe inspiration he needed for the Minuteman.
ten," Schulte says. "That's what we're doing now is
"When I came back from that, I said, 'Alright
getting it out in public to honor them."
guys, now we have a mission. I know what we're
Since completing the Minuteman this March,
going to do with this thing,'" Schulte says. "That's
Schulte and his friends have put it to work. He
when we really got serious. When we decided to
volunteered the vehicle's services during another
dedicate it to the nine guys killed in action, it took
Arkansas hog hunt for wounded warriors, and it's
on a life of its own."
appeared in a car show and several parades. Schulte
The truck received a complete engine and transsays he plans to drive the Minuteman in the Vetermission overhaul. They replaced all the seals; rebuilt
ans Day parade in Florissant this month.
the carburetor, alternator and power steering pump;
"We all feel pretty blessed," Schulte says. "We've
and added new brakes, brake lines, fuel lines and a
had good careers. We're all healthy. This is just a
new fuel cell to replace the old gas tank.
way to give back to those who weren't as fortunate
"We took the transfer case out, took both the
because any one of us could be in that position."
front and rear ends all apart," says Bax, a member
While they haven't formed a non-proﬁt or charof Three Rivers Electric Cooperative. "Mechanically,
itable organization, Schulte and his wife, Janelle,
pretty much everything was redone."
are working toward offering their own hunts for
The Chevy's original ﬁrewall and dash were
wounded warriors. They recently purchased property
reused, and other friends contributed a few parts,
adjacent to their Callaway County farm and are renincluding the brush guard for the front end. Because
ovating a cabin to accommodate disabled veterans.
they didn't have a pipe bender, they bought two
Beyond their own careers, Schulte and Kempker
wrecked dune buggies and repurposed portions of
have another reason to support the Missouri Guard.
the frames for the Minuteman's skeleton. While
Their sons, Greg Schulte and Aaron Kempker, are
they had ideas on how to make the vehicle safe and
both guardsmen actively serving in Afghanistan.
comfortable while transporting wounded warriors
"I pray every day that neither one of us puts our
during hunts, there were no written plans to follow.
sons' names or any other sons or daughters on the
"We were trying to build something out of thin
side of the Minuteman," Schulte says. "Let's all say a
air," says Kempker, also a Three Rivers Electric memprayer that we don't add any more names."
ber, who did nearly all the welding. "Sometimes, it
left us at a dead end, and we'd have to come back
For more information about the Minuteman vehithe next week and change something."
cle, you may contact Jim Schulte at 573-295-6820 or
Small, decorative touches help add to the firstname.lastname@example.org.
cle's military theme. A working bayonet is afﬁxed to
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - November 2013
Rural Missouri - November 2013
White mules and family wine
Helping our neighbors
A rolling tribute to freedom
Out of the Way Eats
Big man from a small town
Hearth and Home
Best of rural Missouri
Rural Missouri - November 2013