Going Back to the Jeep

Ok, so she doesnt look the same.

Shes bigger and heavier than she is in the old photos.

But Jeep-maker Chrysler will tell you theres just more to love about the vehicle and it is hoping once again to find a place in the Armys heart and motor-vehicle fleet.

Under a banner announcing The Icon Returns, Jeep Government and Military Sales set a prototype of the new Jeep onto the carpeted floor of the Walter Washington Convention Center in Washington as part of the Association of the U.S. Armys annual conference.

To be sure the Jeep J8 on display at AUSA bears almost no resemblance to the one driven around Bien Hoa Army Base by long-ago buddies Lynn Pfeiffer and Ken Bones Roberson, but back then light utility vehicles were supposed to be just that light. The J8, like pretty much every vehicle on sale to the Army today, is big enough to tote a slew of equipment, including weapons and armor.

The Jeep J8 is a military version of Chryslers Jeep Wrangler. It comes with both diesel and gasoline engines, said Ken Bergquist, a vice president with JGMS. The company is pitching the J8 as a light patrol or border patrol vehicle, personnel or cargo carrier, communications vehicle or ambulance, he said.

Its not a vehicle youd use in a high-IED threat environment, he said, but it would serve a lot of missions that you dont need a Humvee for. Also, he said, the Army could own three J8s for the cost of one Humvee.

The classic World War II-era jeep was about 10-feet, 9-inches long and 6-feet high with the top on. The J8 adds a good four feet to the length and one to the width, but its only three inches shorter.

The Jeep was a mainstay of the Armys vehicle fleet from 1941 and for several years after the Korean War. After that the "Jeep" was actually a MUTT -- an M151 Military Utility Tactical Truck, to be exact. But it looked enough like the old Jeep -- and generations of Soldiers called it a Jeep -- and so that's what my buddies were tooling around in in Vietnam.

Turns out that Bergquist was at Bien Hoa at the same time (even knew my CO, he said) and he straightened me out on the Jeep/MUTT error.

I stand corrected.

-- Bryant Jordan

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