When Shawn Bennet was approached by a gentlemen in Taylorsville, North Carolina about taking on a 1946 Willys Jeep restoration project, Shawn got excited.
Shawn served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1989 to 1996 as a Motor T Marine out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina with 2nd Marine Division. Originally from Beckley, West Virginia he moved to Ashe County in 1996 soon after getting out of the Corps.
"I feel like I'm honoring those who came before us, keeping this jeep alive," Shawn said.
The Willys Jeep was primarily used by the U.S. Army, but Marines "acquired" these jeeps in the Pacific Theatre and beyond using the jeeps as ambulances and anti-tank rocket vehicles. They were also small enough to be lifted via helicopter and were used often to execute the famous U.S. Marine Corps saying "adapt and overcome."
But this generous donor had some stipulations.
The jeep needs to go to serve Veterans in Ashe County. The donor's father grew up in Ashe County.
It must be used by a Veterans organization. Not sold. (These unrestored jeeps auction for $30K and Steve McQueen's even sold for $130K!)
Shawn happily agreed. He is a member of the Ashe County Marine Corps League and knew they could use the jeep in league functions, fundraisers, parades, and show off to Ashe County kids.
Then came the challenge - finding these parts proved difficult and even harder to find information on what a Marine Corps 1946 Willys jeep should look like.
Shawn says, "Man, its been so much fun working on this jeep and learning the old stuff. YouTube has been great!"
Shawn is still waiting on the ordered body to come in, but is hopeful the jeep will be roaring down the backroads of the high country later this year.
Thank you Shawn for all your hard work and contributions to this project. You are making the mantra "Once a Marine always a Marine!" true for Marine vehicles too!