Rene Bernier, who restored the 1942 Jeep shown, explains the equipment used during World War II while Mt. Ararat Middle School students observe. The students will use the information in their Web sites about the era. (Terry Taylor, photo)
Denise_Larson@TimesRecord.Com, May 21, 2002
The Military Vehicle Preservation Association uses the slogan, "join us
and keep 'em rolling" to solicit new members for the international
organization whose mission is to collect, restore, preserve and even
operate historical military transport.
The sixth-graders at Mt. Ararat Middle School in Kym Granger's class
are waging their own campaign to find stories and photos of
memorabilia to add to their Web page while they study World War II.
To their credit, they called in a specialist, Rene Bernier.
Bernier, a laboratory instructor of chemistry at Bowdoin College, is a
serious Jeep enthusiast. His restored Jeeps have been exhibited at the
Owl's Head Transportation Museum and the Cole Land Transportation
Museum and have won restoration awards. He is a member of the
Military Vehicle Preservation Association, which holds public education
about their work as one of its priorities.
"Mt. Ararat sixth-graders will be creating Web pages about the World
War II era as a result of their readings of several historical fiction books,
viewing of Web pages, and interviews and discussions with Mr. Bernier
and several World War II veterans and others alive during the period,"
said Kym Granger, the sixth-grade teacher who coordinated the visit.
Bernier was pleased to join the students at their school on May 3 for a
review of his restored World War II Jeep, which was built on April 20,
1942, in the River Rouge assembly plant in Michigan by the Ford
Motor Co. The 60-year-old Jeep includes the original hand-crank
needed to start the vehicle.
An accompanying trailer, built in March 1944 by the Bantam Car Co. in
Butler, Pa., was designed to float to keep the up to 500 pounds of
equipment in it dry when crossing streams and rivers while being towed
by a Jeep.
From the exhibit that Bernier brought to the school, the students hoped
to gain knowledge about the World War II era from a primary source,
specifically items veterans used while in the service — helmets that
soldiers hated but had to wear to protect them from falling debris,
"e-tools," excavation shovels, to dig countless trenches and mess kits to
eat the field rations that often included the infamous canned meat called
"Spam." No weapons are included in Bernier's collection.
Call for assistance issued
When Granger and Richard Delano, another sixth-grade teacher, first
developed the idea of a student-built Web site about the World War II
era, they placed wanted ads in the school newspaper and around the
community for history project volunteers. Among those responding
were Paul Krauss, a Hungarian who supported the allies and spent time
in a concentration camp sabotaging German V-2 bombs; Ed Ham, who
served on a submarine; David Stevens, an American soldier; Jean Cox,
a British citizen, Rene Bernier, who displayed the Jeep and artifacts; and
Richard Delano, who spoke about World War II from a child's
Students planned an oral history project for which they interviewed and
videotaped people who shared memories of life as a child or adult
during the World War II era. Students digitally recorded each interview
using both a camera and videocamera. With the material gathered, the
young writers will compose research reports, retell the stories that the
speakers tell, write an autobiographical item about a speaker or
construct a historically accurate fictional story. The combined works will
appear on Web sites and will include graphics and related links for more
The students' Web sites will be linked to http://www.link75.org/mam/.
The planned launch date for the sites is Friday.
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