Driving a Jeep

Before I was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1943, I had never driven a vehicle of any kind. However, one day in February, 1944, the necessity to do this arose quickly. I was in Kunming, China, having arrived there with a bunch of other soldiers from India the day before.

It had begun necessary that a convoy be formed that would travel from Kunming to Kwiyang in central China by road through the Himalayan Mountains. The road had just been built and had many danger areas where the paved part of the road was only inches away from precipitous drops.

The lieutenant said that I was to drive myself and a passenger by Jeep to our location. I told him that I had never driven a car before. He said he would teach me and spent the next five minutes doing this. The major event of this training was that at one point he told me to turn right and turned in the opposite direction. Calming, he stated, “No, when you want to turn right, you turn the wheel to the right and when you want to turn left, you turn the wheel to the left.” I assured him that I would remember this.

The voyage began and lasted several days. At first I felt deep fear as I maneuvered the little vehicle on the narrow roads, but gradually this dissipated. A love of cars was born and has been with me ever since. One of the vehicles I purchased some 30 years later was a Jeep Renegade with a huge Ford V-8 engine. This time the roads I traveled were not as tortuous and treacherous as the one in China.

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