Here at the museum, we're all about attention, and frankly, nothing stands out like a Military Hummer tooling down the road. As a museum, we're privvy to some goverment sales and that sort of thing, so when this really neato M998 HMWVV came along, the directors gave it the nod to have around the Hangar and loan out to folks dropping by. We're blessed here in Hallettsville, we have a great community that loves and supports the airport, but there are always those few outlyers that question an airports worth. We wanted a vehicle that would tell the most passionate of airport non-believers "We are here from out of town, flew into your airport and are enjoying your town". The Hummer fills that roll perfectly. It's impossible to hide where it came from and the purpose it serves.
There are two really good words that describe our efforts here at the museum... "Learning Curve". With that said, here's what we've learned loaning out a US Guvernment War Horse. It's not the typical ex-police cruiser that you can tell someone "Hey, the keys are in it"... We have to be here to give you the check out on it. Once we've spent about 15 min. with you showing the ropes, you get a cool TBM Humvee drivers license, a map to some good eatin' and it's yours to use. Like we say at my real job "just because it's different doesn't mean it's wrong", and the M998 is just different. It isn't hard, there are just some things to know and adapt to. Once you are good to go, we've got some great restraunts in town (as long as you like good Mexican food or BBQ - I'm just kidding but not really... it's Texas after all).
Ok, enough rambling, lets talk about the machine. Ours was built in 1989. I'm pretty sure it saw service overseas initially. As with most government vehicles, it underwent a scheduled overhaul and ours has about 4000 miles on it since it left the depot with fresh paint and major repairs. We aquired it as military surplus, and jumped through hoops to get it licensed and insured. It worked. Mechanically, it's a beast. We bought some spares and goodies along the way, and should be able to keep it humming (sorry, couldn't resist), for a long time. It was a communications truck, and the radio harnesses are still installed. We are looking for the long whips to complete the look.
One thing I can say about the truck is, if you come to use it, be ready. It evokes a lot of emotions. There isn't a more visual icon of our young men and womens service and sacrifice overseas than a Humvee. You'll get comments, questions, and stories. I always ask if they want to drive it, most refuse. One young man sat in the back seat and quietly wept. Its a powerful vehicle, and I'm not talking about horsepower and torque. I initially thought we would vinyl it out with museum logos and such, but have decided against it. It just didn't seem right. Even 'Rosie the Rocket Dog" seems out of place. It's about as far removed from the 1930's theme we have, but it continues to serve just the same, like so many other veterans that never quite "get out". We'll keep it around. It'll keep serving others and reminding us of history, and really, isn't that what it a museum is made to do?