Mark Clawson, president, Diamond Rental/Diamond Event & Tent, Salt Lake City, is an admitted World War II history buff and a lover of old jeeps. Those two passions recently came together in a way that ended up serving an even greater purpose — honoring an uncle for his combat service.
Clawson has always loved jeeps and anything WWll-related. “My dad had a few military jeeps through the years. We never restored any of them, but we always talked about doing that,”
That idea gained traction when, in the early 2000s, Clawson and his father bought what looked like a WWII jeep. “We put it in a metal building on my dad’s farm. Around 2013, I started digging into it. I found that it was an authentic WWII jeep — a Ford GPW, made in Dearborn, Mich., and delivered Jan. 23, 1945,” he says.
As Clawson was restoring the jeep, he kept thinking about his uncle, Robert Morrow, who served in WWII.
“I didn’t know him super-well. I knew he had a rough war experience. He came home and suffered what we now know as PTSD,” Clawson says.
Later on, Clawson discovered a book his mother had. It was a collection of oral history interviews of WWII veterans from Maury County, Tenn.
“There was an amazing three-page write-up about my uncle. He went to North Africa, was sent to Italy as a replacement and landed at Anzio, where a famous battle took place. He kept guys alive while he fought off a German counterattack. His commanding officer ordered him to leave, but he wouldn’t. He bandaged up soldiers’ wounds. He received a Silver Star for that,” Clawson says.
Clawson also discovered his uncle had been wounded three times. “Some of his best friends were machine-gunned down and he had to lie with their bodies during the night before he could get away. His company rode on the tank that Gen. Patton drove through part of southern France. He was loaned to a few different regiments during the dash across France, the Battle of the Bulge and the surrender of Germany. Many groups claim their unit liberated Dauchau, one of the concentration camps. He was in the assault squad. There were still bodies there that hadn’t been burned yet. He concluded his war service at Adolf Hitler’s ‘Eagle’s Nest’ at Berchtesgaden,” Clawson says.
Realizing all that his uncle went through — and that he had not been fully recognized when he came home — Clawson wanted to honor this true military hero by painting his unit numbers on the jeep.
“I looked him up and found out the information. I received the templates and painted them on the jeep,” Clawson says. “For me, this jeep is a little piece of history that honors my uncle, and I want to make sure we don’t forget what he did for us.”