Lee Holland, Recent News
Remembering the mechanized Army October 5, 2008 - 2:09pm
CHESTER, Va. (AP) - Lee Holland has put military history on wheels.
At his place in Chester, Holland has created a motor-pool museum filled with World War II Army vehicles.
"What I try to present," the retired Army officer said, "is how we went from the horse and the mule to a truly mechanized Army."
His vehicles "represent the first truly designed from-the-ground-up tactical wheeled vehicles," he said. "They were what put the Army on wheels."
His meticulously restored vehicles include:
_ a 1942 Willys-Overland 1/4-ton truck -- the original Army "jeep"
_ a 1942 Dodge command car
_ a 1941 GMC 2 1/2-ton truck
_ a 1942 Dodge 3/4-ton carryall
_ a 1943 Checker Cab 1-ton trailer
_ and a 1943 American Bantam Car Co. 1/4-ton trailer.
"This is where the jeeps all began," 56-year-old Holland said of his 1942 Willys-Overland MB. "Every jeep out there is a direct descendent of this jeep."
Holland's 2,160-square-foot museum _ built largely by himself and based on the Army's standard 1937 motor-pool building _ also displays exhibits from the life of a World War II GI Joe. They include a table set for a meal eaten from metal mess kits; a field mail-distribution center complete with genuine wartime "V-mail"; and mannequin soldiers in period uniforms "working" around an Army garage.
"He's the motor sergeant," said Holland of one of his life-size mannequins. "When I'm not around here, he's in charge."
An instructor at Fort Lee's Army Logistics Management College, Holland is a former president of the 9,000-strong international Military Vehicle Preservation Association.
"The most collected vehicles around the world are U.S.-designed military vehicles," he said.
Though America manufactured weapons and the trucks to haul them in stupendous numbers during World War II _ more than 835,000 of the 2 1/2-ton trucks alone _ they were only expected to last six to nine months in combat.
They're becoming rare prizes. While Dodge built 14,009 examples of the WC-56 command car, Holland's is one of 93 known to remain.
Swapping, buying, trading for 25 years, Holland finds his restoration projects, scarce parts and period equipment on old farms and construction sites, at auto supply stores, through word of mouth, and from a global network of military collectors.
The museum is on what Holland calls his farm. He lives about a mile away. Six more vehicles wait in the barn on his farm for his skilled attention.
"My biggest problem is I don't have enough time," he said.
Holland is a meticulous craftsman. "I try to use all original bolts over again, after they were cleaned with dental picks and wire-brushed," said Holland, "and I try to put them back in the same holes."
Clipboards covered with World War II Army forms hang on a parts cabinet. "That's actually my production-control system," he said of the paper forms. "I try to operate the shop the same way they operated the shop in the '40s," he said.
But, Holland said, "It's more than just a hobby. It's preserving a special piece of history."
He opens his motor-pool museum for tours. Students, ROTC cadets, soldiers from Fort Lee, veterans groups, all have trooped through.
"This a must-see," visitor Vaughn Williams wrote on Holland's Web site. "I am very glad I was given the chance to visit the motor pool. It was very interesting and informative. Lee knows his stuff."
The museum houses some personal mementos, too.
A photo sits on the hood of his MB jeep, which has the name "Elaine" painted on its windshield frame.
The black-and-white image shows his father, when he was an Army Air Corps officer in North Africa, standing with a jeep also named "Elaine."
"Elaine became his wife and my mom," Holland said.
"I did it as a little tribute to them."
Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, http://www.timesdispatch.com
To see pictures of the Motor Pool please go to the Photo Gallery
I created this website for Mr. Lee Holland. He was so kind to invite our class to visit his Motor Pool and many classes before us. My boys also got a private tour when they came up to visit me while I was in Virginia. Mr. Holland is the first to tell you that he really didn't think he needed this site, but we all felt that everyone should get the opportunity to see his hard work. I am desperately waiting on the day I get to upload more pictures to his site.
Thank you Mr. Holland from our Intern Class!
Thank you Mr. Holland for allowing my precious "heart beats" to witness your work and make those memories to NEVER be forgotten. The many lives you have touched, you could never count.
Created and Monitored by a Mommy of two boys
who is a Lil' Ole Intern 2008
Thank you, Mr. Holland!
Please sign my guest book, and let me know you stopped by.