The Canadians, noting the Stockton high plaque, turned the jeep over to American forces at the war's end. The jeep was shipped back to the United States and wound up at an army disposal auction in Texarkana, Texas.
A Texas farmer bought it and used it as a utility vehicle for 10 years until it stopped running. The jeep sat in a field near the Texas-Oklahoma border for years, forgotten.
A story appeared in the Stockton Record about the jeep. Two brothers, third generation Stocktonians, World War II veterans and graduates of the war-years classes at the high school, clothiers Tom and Bob MacKeegan came forth immediately, wrote a check for the $5,500 and donated the car to the city.
Stockton High School's Jeep No. 151 was brought back to Stockton from Dallas, without charge, in a Red Ball Motor Freight truck - a company founded by soldiers who operated the famed World War II Red Ball Express for Gen. Patton in Europe.
The whole town turned out for Willy's homecoming. Alumni of Stockton High's classes of 1943, 1944 and 1945 walked behind the jeep in a parade through town that included several marching bands.
Willy the Jeep was made an honorary member of the American Legion and awarded an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army, the first such distinction for an inanimate object.
Arrangements for the Willy's homecoming was highlighted by a Chinok helicopter arrival with actor Jamie Farr, March 17th, 1979
Jamie Farr was in the Army for 2 years, 1956-57, and served in Japan and Korea
and was part of a celebration and rode in the back of one of the Stockton High School purchased Willys Jeeps, (#151) as it went to the Haggin Museum (where you can find it now)
204 letters from soldiers to the students, are at the Haggin Museum in Stockton, thanking them for the Jeeps... 131 Jeeps were recognized in those thetters, which was the result of the little plaques on the dashboards that identified the Jeeps as donations from the Stockton High School students and faculty.
It's a long article, but worth it. The 2000 students of this one high school near San Francisco were nearly heroic in their efforts to do anything and everything possible to raise money for the war effort.
We rarely remember, but it's often the truth: everyone in high school knows someone in the military, as a large amount of the military is less than one year from having graduated high school. 143 former students of Stockton HS died in WW2. One of these Jeeps surprised a 1940 alumni of Stockton HS during the war
Plus all the family members, older brothers, cousins, uncles etc, of the students in the military were always on the students minds during WW2.
There was also school spirit and reputation on the line... schools that had greater than 90% participation were rewarded with a flag, and dropping under the 90% would result in them losing their flag to a rival school... what better way to mess with your historic rival school than to out achieve?
18 of the Stockton HS went to the Philippines, 16 to Japan, 11 to New Guinea, 9 to Guadalcanal, and 1 even went to Anchorage.
2 of the Jeeps at Guadalcanal were used to install telephone and telegraph lines
The restoration was undertaken by a trustee of the museum, and that cost $43,000
the Haggin Museum covers this historical story in great detail, with the letters, photos, and one of the Stockton HS Willys Jeep #151.
By the way, the museum owns 63 pieces of JC Leyendecker art. I've posted his paintings a couple of times, and their display of their Leyendeckers is the largest public display of his work in the world
You might want to skip down this article to the headline Stockton High School Goes To War
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Dialogues on the Delta: Approaches to the City of Stockton edited by Martín Camps