Residents traveling or watching Highway 63 last Wednesday, September 20, might have seen an extensive line of military vehicles making their way through Rolla. This convoy was part of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association’s (MVPA) trek across Route 66, celebrating the road and what it means to military history.

Convoy Commander Dan McCluskey said the convoy is made up of drivers and riders from all over the world, with volunteers traveling from as far as New Zealand, France, Belgium and Puerto Rico. Overseas participants shipped their vehicles across the sea and will ship them back once the convoy finishes.

“It’s truly a worldwide representation,” he said.

McCluskey said the MVPA organizes a convoy approximately every two years. Their first convoy took place in 2009, and took participants down the Lincoln Highway, one of the first highways in the United States to cross the continent. This year’s convoy, according to McCluskey, is to celebrate the way the Military used Route 66 during and after World War II.

“Route 66 was a very important highway during World War II,” he said. “A lot of the factories were in the east and northeast and a lot of the equipment that had to go into the Pacific had to get to San Francisco or Los Angeles, and that was what was used, Route 66.”

McCluskey explained how even after the war was over, veterans used the route to return home.

“That’s what our focus is, to highlight Route 66 and make sure we preserve this important highway,” he said.

The vehicles were escorted down the Phelps County portion of Route 66 by officers from the St. James and Rolla Police Departments, as well as the University Police, Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department.

The convoy stopped in Rolla at the VFW Post 2025, where local VFW members gave them a home cooked meal and thanked them for their effort in commemorating an important part of military history.

Dwight Sandeen, Post Commander for VFW Post 2015, said he instantly agreed to be a part of their journey as soon as he heard the convoy was passing through Phelps County.

The MVPA has been around since the late 60’s according to Dan McCluskey, who said the group formed when a man wrote a Letter to the Editor of Four Wheeler Magazine, asking if there were any military jeep clubs available.

“The editor said no, but maybe you should start one,” said McCluskey. “And he did.” The group that formed officially became the MVPA in the mid 80’s.

McCluskey himself has been a part of the group since it formed, and has been involved with military vehicles in some shape or form his whole life.

“My first vehicle was a World War II Jeep…I restored it and I’ve been in the hobby ever since.”

The convoy is currently on it’s way to Santa Monica, the official end of Route 66, and after that will journey to Fort McArthur to conclude their trip.

in 2019, according to McCluskey, they will be organizing another convoy to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the United States Army doing the first transcontinental military vehicle convoy. The original journey took veterans form Washington to San Francisco i 93 days. The MVPA will retrace their Lincoln Highway convoy to celebrate.