Posted by: Bob Ringma | May 18, 2011

Stolen jeep

While the dithering was going on in October and November, it appeared that 25 Brigade would not be going to Korea after all.  Rumours circulated for several months that we might be sent to Europe.  There were mixed feelings about that.  Some had joined the Special Force to fight and felt frustrated.  Others saw a tour in Europe as a blessing.  When the decision was finally made a couple of months later that we were going to war, everything settled down.  A separate Canadian brigade was recruited for service in Europe.

Meanwhile, back in Fort Lewis, I had an involuntary interview with our one star, Brigadier Rockingham.  By getting command of the MLBU I was the first of the Ordnance junior officers to get my own jeep.  To me it was a big deal – that is, until it was stolen.  Like most army vehicles, jeeps had a simple on/off switch instead of an ignition key.  Unless it was immobilized in some way, it could be driven away by anyone.  Like others, if I parked the jeep outside of our unit lines, I removed the rotor from the distributor, to prevent it being “borrowed.”  The problem was that potential thieves carried spare rotors.

For some unexplained reason, someone thought it would be a good idea to call Lieutenant Ringma up on the brigade commander’s carpet.  I really didn’t understand it.  Was I to blame for having my jeep stolen?   On the evening of the theft the vehicle was parked at the North Fort Officers’ Club.  Maybe that was it; perhaps I was presumed guilty of drinking and driving.  If so, I had lots of company.

I was really apprehensive about being “interviewed” by Brigadier Rockingham; I had never even met the man before.  I don’t remember what was said in the one-way conversation, and I do not recall being told what my crime was.  It was all very vague.  I do recall that Rockingham didn’t tear a strip off me.  Perhaps he, too, wondered why I was there.

distributor rotor

The problem was solved as an aftermath to the incident.  Hasps were welded to the jeep hoods, and a good quality padlock made modified vehicles theft proof.  I tucked the experience away in my growing collection of “Things to look our for – the unexpected that can bite you in the ass.”



  1. Interesting that they blamed the victim of the crime. I wonder if they ever made an effort to catch the thieves? I am sure the thieves rationalized it as borrowing but it is still a choice on their part, to take something not theirs. Now I am wondering if there were other ways jeeps could have been sabotaged by the rightful driver – something sticky on the steering wheel perhaps. I guess they didn’t have radios that could be left “on” full blast, as a sort of car alarm!

  2. Julia.

    Your imagination is going full tilt. I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of the theft to me, but at the time, I think there was an attitude of “they’re all military vehicles; nothing is personal or private, so what the hell!” The idea of sabotaging never occurred to me – or, I’m sure, to others. The incident is an interesting example of the differences in thinking, or perception, between generations.

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