We go about our daily lives dealing with all kinds of issues; freedom is one
of those issues that has been on my mind quite frequently lately. While each
of us might have a slightly different take on the term freedom, as Americans
we’re able to experience it. Still, we take our freedom for granted, and it is
not until we have something or someone taken away from us that we realize
what we lost. I’m able to sit here and write this today because of the brave
men and women who fight for our freedom daily. It was not too long ago that
all young men were required to fight for our country to defend our rights.
While I have never served in any military branch I respect all who are willing
to fight and die for their family and strangers.
Below is a story that hits close to home, because I, too, have a '59 Chevy
Apache and somehow feel a connection with what you’re about to read.
Today I would like to take a moment to thank Army Captain Bruce Hays, who
lost his life in Afghanistan while fighting to help us enjoy our freedom.
Bruce Hays, Desert Storm veteran and Wyoming National Guard soldier, gave his life for his country, but as it happens so often, there was a special project that was left unfinished. Prior to his deployment, Captain Hays had presented his wife with an anniversary present – a 1959 Chevrolet Apache pick-up truck that he would restore. When he was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan, the mechanic who was restoring the car took the money and disappeared.
Hays’ friends decided to complete the mission that he never had the chance to finish. WyoTech has collaborated with the fundraising team called, "The Friends of the 133rd" to restore the truck and prepare it for painting. In a combined effort of students, instructors and faculty, the truck is on its way to a complete restoration. Since June 2010, there have been at least a dozen WyoTech students who have dedicated over 200 hours to the project. They have learned many valuable life lessons by giving back to this deserving family. They've also enhanced their curriculum with hands-on training in rust repair, fabrication, dent removal and more.
On April 2 at 3:00 p.m., the fundraising team will hold an auction at the Elks Club, 103 South 2nd Street, Laramie, Wyoming with a variety of items that include handmade blankets to a ticket package from the Colorado Rockies baseball club. In addition, a website has been set up for donations and information about the 1959 Chevy Apache project truck. Donors and interested parties can view progress reports at www.captainhaysapacheproject.com.
The goal is to raise enough money to complete the pickup and create a legacy scholarship in Captain Hays' name for veterans wishing to attend WyoTech. The restoration is scheduled to be completed by September 17, the anniversary of Captain Hays' death, when the truck will be returned to the family.
For more information about this project, read about it on the WyoTech website here.