Approximately 65 military vehicles spanning from World War II to the present day will arrive in Delphos Saturday afternoon as part of the Military Vehicle Presentation Association convoy celebrating the 100th anniversary of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s trip across American with the Army on Lincoln Highway in 1919. (Photo submitted)
Approximately 65 military vehicles spanning from World War II to the present day will arrive in Delphos Saturday afternoon as part of the Military Vehicle Presentation Association convoy celebrating the 100th anniversary of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s trip across American with the Army on Lincoln Highway in 1919. (Photo submitted)
DELPHOS — Delphos will host the Military Vehicle Presentation Association military convoy overnight Saturday.

Support vehicle driver Rick Constien of Findlay will lead the convoy into Delphos at approximately 4 p.m. on Saturday and they will gather at Arby’s before heading into Delphos on Fifth Street for a parade.

“We really enjoy the little towns along the way,” Constien said. “They are so gracious and love to host us. They really turn out to welcome, too.”

The convoy will parade down Fifth Street to State Street, head north on State Route 66 to North Street and east to Stadium Park. The VFW Post will host the group for dinner and they will camp overnight in Stadium Park.

“We hear there will be some fun activities in the downtown so we are also planning on walking up to see what is going on Saturday evening,” Constien said.

The convoy of 65-70 vehicles and 10-15 support vehicles started at the MVPA rally in York, Pennsylvania, on Aug. 10. It generally travels 70-100 miles a day when east of the Mississippi and can hit up 150 miles in the west. The trip ends in San Francisco.

Constien said the convoy lost several vehicles going through Pennsylvania.

“This hills in Pennsylvania kicked our butts,” he said. “One vehicle lost a drive shaft another just quit. These are old vehicles.”

The Delphos Optimists will install its Avenue of Flags down Fifth Street at noon on Friday and retire the flags at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Volunteers are needed to assist with the flags and can meet at the War Memorial at Fifth and Main streets at both times.

The tour is recreating the first Army transcontinental motor convoy from the summer of 1919, when a young Lieutenant Colonel named Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in the first Army transcontinental motor convoy. The expedition consisted of 81 motorized Army vehicles that crossed the United States from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco, a venture covering a distance of 3,251 miles in 62 days.

The route the convoy would take was mostly along the Lincoln Highway, the first major transcontinental motor route. The more than 80 vehicles carried 24 officers and 258 enlisted men, and they left D.C. at 1 p.m. on July 7, 1919. It took the convoy the rest of the day to reach Frederick, Maryland, where Lt. Col. Eisenhower joined the group. In seven and a half hours, they had traveled 46 miles, a drive that today would take just about an hour.

The convoy was to test the mobility of the military during wartime conditions. As an observer for the War Department, Eisenhower learned first-hand of the difficulties faced in traveling great distances on roads that were impassable and resulted in frequent breakdowns of the military vehicles.

They crossed plains, mountains and deserts on roads that, up until Nebraska, were surprisingly well made. But once the convoy hit the West, the trucks started getting stuck in ditches, sand and mud for hours at a time. By Utah, the conditions of the roads were so bad, it almost stopped the convoy altogether.

These early experiences influenced Eisenhower’s later decisions concerning the building of the interstate highway system during his presidential administration.