CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS — It started as a way for Jimmy Kurth to pay tribute to his son.
Kurth spent most of the last year and a considerable amount of money building it. A rewarding way to spend his quarantine.
“This was my COVID project,” said Kurth. “We couldn’t do anything, couldn’t go anywhere so I stayed in my garage for 12, 14, 16 hours at a time.”
After all those hours, Kurth created a moving tribute to his fellow vets, literally.
“We need to honor our veterans and we need to respect our veterans,” said Kurth. “This is one way that I can do that.”
Kurth served in the u-s navy from 1970-74, even spending time aboard the USS Lexington.
Kurth’s son Ryan, like his brothers, joined the Army and served in Iraq. Eight years ago next week, Ryan was killed in a motorcycle crash shortly after returning from his second tour in Iraq.
“Ryan was the last one to come home and new breathed a sigh of relief, and then this happened,” said Kurth. “We’ve learned that it is what it is, he died doing what he liked doing.”
At Ryan’s funeral, Kurth first met the South Texas Patriot Guard Riders. A couple years later, he joined the Patriot Guard, driving the support vehicle.
“I carry the flags, the ice water, and the Gatorade to these funerals,” said Kurth. “As you can tell, I’ve done quite a few in four years.”
He estimates he’s been to about 400 funerals, but Kurth wanted to do something more. That’s when he came up with the idea for a tribute car, a restored 1947 Ford, specially painted to pay tribute to fallen vets.
“You know, I’m pretty proud of my accomplishment, and I’m proud to do what I do today,” said Kurth.
“The car is fabulous,” said Butch “Turtle” Cone, Deputy State Ride Captain for the South Texas Patriot Guard Riders. “It will do a lot to get our veterans noticed more, and they need to be.”
Cone’s grandson’s name, Spc. Josh Neusche, who was killed in Iraq, is one of about 50 on Kurth’s tribute.
“I’m tearing up now, that’s how its makes me feel,” said Cone. “Every name that’s on there is a hero.”
Ryan’s name is also there. What does his dad say Ryan would think of this tribute?
“He probably smiled one me the whole time,” said Kurth.
Kurth estimates he’s sunk more than $20,000 into the car, mist of it his own money. A fundraiser helped get the car ready in time for Veteran’s Day, but Kurth says more work is needed. The car is available for veteran’s events and fundraisers. Anyone interested should contact the Patriot Guard.