us military veterans with model a ford

From California to Arctic Circle: US Military Veterans Conquer the Cold in Model A Ford

by Peter Barnes

Prepare to be inspired as two courageous US Military veterans in their 70s, Jay Burbank and Charlie Enxuto, gear up for the adventure of a lifetime.

In a heartwarming tribute to their fellow servicemen, these intrepid souls are embarking on a remarkable journey from Cambria, California to Tuktoyaktuk, North West Territories, nestled within the breathtaking Arctic Circle. But here‚Äôs the catch ‚Äď they‚Äôre undertaking this awe-inspiring expedition in a remarkable 1931 Model A Ford.

A Chance Encounter Sparks a Dream:

Jay Burbank and Charlie Enxuto will be traveling to Tuktoyaktuk, North West Territories in a Model A Ford. (Photo Credit: dvs / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0)
Jay Burbank and Charlie Enxuto will be traveling to Tuktoyaktuk, North West Territories in a Model A Ford. (Photo Credit: dvs / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0)

It all started when Jay Burbank, a spirited US Air Force veteran, embarked on a trip to Utah. Little did he know that this journey would set the stage for an extraordinary challenge.

While sharing his desire to traverse the famous Alcan Highway to Alaska, he encountered a Canadian gentleman who posed a thought-provoking question, ‚ÄúDo you want to do an ordinary road like that or have an adventure?‚ÄĚ And thus, the seeds of an audacious plan were sown.

Kindred Spirits Unite:

Jay-Burbank-and-Charlie-Enxuto-drive-about-1400-miles-of-the-trek-in-his-1931-Model-A-town-sedan
(Photo Credit: Kathe Tanner)

Charlie Enxuto, a vibrant 75-year-old US Army veteran, entered the picture during a serendipitous meeting with Burbank on a captivating cruise through Costa Rica and the awe-inspiring Panama Canal.

Instantly bonding over their mutual passion for photography, these two kindred spirits became fast friends. It was clear that their shared zest for life would fuel their incredible expedition.

From World Traveler to 1931 Model A Ford Aficionado:

Before his fateful encounter with Enxuto, Burbank had already carved a path as a world traveler and car enthusiast. Having served two tours in Okinawa and Guam as a mechanic on Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses, this Air Force veteran embarked on an unforgettable journey through Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and Austria in 2001. Fueling his wanderlust, he embarked on numerous other trips, each etching indelible memories upon his adventurous soul.

A Classic Ride Takes Center Stage:

Jay Burbank and Charlie Enxuto will be making their journey in a Model A Ford painted to look like it belonged to the US Army Air Corps. (Photo Credit: KATHE TANNER)

The vehicle of choice for this daring duo is none other than a meticulously restored 1931 Model A Ford, painstakingly converted into a replica of a US Army Air Corps general’s staff car from World War II.

Built by the esteemed Ford Motor Company between 1927 and 1932, this sturdy automobile was purposefully designed to withstand the unpaved roads that lie in wait as Burbank and Enxuto venture closer to the Arctic Circle.

The car itself is a testament to their remarkable journey, adorned with the signatures of 700 to 800 veterans that Burbank has encountered on his previous expeditions.

Whenever a section of the Model A’s exterior fills up with signatures, this dedicated Air Force veteran carefully preserves them with a protective clear coat, shielding these invaluable mementos from the elements.

A Journey of Honor and Adventure:

Jay Burbank, at left, and Tully Garrett of Wilmington, Illinois, pose in 2019 after Garrett signed his father’s name on Burbank’s 1931 Model A, in honor of the man’s military service, wartime injuries and experiences. It was the first of hundreds of veterans’ autographs Burbank has collected on the antique auto since then
Jay Burbank, at left, and Tully Garrett of Wilmington, Illinois, pose in 2019 after Garrett signed his father‚Äôs name on Burbank‚Äôs 1931 Model A, in honor of the man‚Äôs military service, wartime injuries and experiences. It was the first of hundreds of veterans‚Äô autographs Burbank has collected on the antique auto since then. (Photo ‚Äď Pat Burbank)

The voyage undertaken by these two veterans holds deep significance for both US and Canadian veterans, with a special focus on those who valiantly served during times of war.

In a heartfelt conversation with The San Francisco Bee, Burbank eloquently expressed their intentions, stating, ‚ÄúWe embark on this journey for the beauty, the people, and the adventure ‚Äď to do something others deem impossible, all while paying homage to our military veterans.‚ÄĚ

However, it’s worth noting that our resilient adventurers have wisely chosen not to traverse the entire distance solely in their trusty Model A. At certain points along the way, their faithful steed will be dutifully towed behind a Cadillac SUV. They’ll also be well-prepared, carrying additional fuel and a sturdy tent to ensure their comfort during the expedition.

A Noble Cause Drives Them Forward:

Photo - Kathe Tanner
Photo ‚Äď Kathe Tanner

Beyond the remarkable tribute to their comrades in arms, this monumental journey also seeks to raise funds for college scholarships awarded by American Legion Post No. 432 to deserving students at Cambria’s Leffingwell High School. The dream is to establish four annual $1,000 scholarships, supporting the aspirations of young minds eager to pursue higher education.

For Burbank, this philanthropic cause is deeply personal. Overcoming the hurdles of undiagnosed ADHD and dyslexia, his own educational journey was challenging. Now, he strives to make a difference in the lives of others, offering them the opportunities that were once elusive for him.

To ensure their safety in the wilderness, Burbank and Enxuto will be equipped with bear repellent and sound-emitting devices, shielding themselves from any encounters with aggressive wildlife. Additionally, they have taken precautions to safeguard the Model A’s windshield from potential harm caused by gravel and rocks along their adventurous route.

To donate to the scholarship fund, go to legionpost432.com

Conclusion:

As we join Jay Burbank and Charlie Enxuto on their extraordinary expedition, we witness the indomitable spirit of two US military veterans seeking adventure, camaraderie, and the chance to honor their fellow servicemen.

This remarkable story of resilience, friendship, and giving back reminds us that even in our golden years, we can embark on incredible journeys, leaving an indelible mark on the world.

So, let their courageous tale inspire you to embrace your own extraordinary adventures, for within each of us lies the potential to create remarkable stories of our own.


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