Weekend Drive: 1968 M715 Kaiser Jeep

  • This 1968 M715 Kaiser Jeep served in Vietnam, just like its owner, Richard Pateracki of Mount Prospect.

    This 1968 M715 Kaiser Jeep served in Vietnam, just like its owner, Richard Pateracki of Mount Prospect.

 
Updated 5/27/2011 10:46 AM

Richard Pateracki's vehicle isn't as fast or shiny as all the other cars that line up for Saturday cruise nights in downtown Mount Prospect, but he is very proud of it, just the same.

"I served in the Army during the Vietnam War, and this was one of the trucks I drove while working in the motor pool. I was with the 822nd Military Police Co., 327th Military Police Battalion," he wrote when sending in this photo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Pateracki, 60, a retired Park Ridge letter carrier, bought his 1968 M715 Kaiser Jeep three years ago. A devoted muscle car guy since the age of 15, the military vehicle seems to fit his personality much better now, he says.

The Jeep was shipped back from Vietnam to Fort Sill, Okla., in 1973. Pateracki found it parked in a barn in Whitewater, Wis., and after purchasing it, drove all 6,000 pounds back down Rand Road to his Mount Prospect home.

"I actually drove it home on a Fourth of July weekend. Not very pleasant to drive down Route 12 on a Sunday afternoon. It does not have power brakes or steering, and it rides like well a truck!"

Everything on the Jeep is still original, including the 230 cubic-inch straight 6 Kaiser Jeep Tornado engine. The truck was used in the war as a weapons and troop carrier.

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When attending cruise nights, the Vietnam veteran will display a metal helmet, ammo crates, foot locker, Vietnamese language book and other mementos from the war.

After 40 years walking his postal route, Pateracki recently had both knees replaced. But now he is healed up and feeling better than ever, ready for the summer cruise season.

"One of my fears with the new knees was not ever being able to get up in my truck and drive it again. I was determined to do it at any cost, and now every time I drive it I consider it therapy."

• Tell us about your weekend drive. Send a photo and details to auto@dailyherald.com.