1998 Dodge Diesel Upgrade Project - Giving Back - Web ExclusivePosted in How To on March 14, 2011
About the Project:
Chuck, who manages Truck Transmission and Turbo in Wheat Ridge Colorado, was discussing his friend John's stepson (Sergeant Brian Douglass) while in the gym earlier this year. Brian has been overseas in combat zones nonstop for years working as a dog handler. A Colorado native, born and raised in the Denver area, Brian reported to boot camp just days after graduating from Ralston Valley High School in 2003. Trained as a dog handler, Brian's first deployment was in 2005 in Iraq, and he was currently serving his second deployment in Afghanistan.
John mentioned to Chuck that he would like to do something to thank his Marine stepson for his service by upgrading his 1998 24V Dodge Truck. Chuck decided to create an 'Overhaulin' type of project using donations by local Colorado business to fund a surprise project build on Brian's truck that would be waiting for him upon his return to the US. Brian's stepfather tricked him into thinking that his truck was being taken to the shop for routine repairs.
Chuck contacted the below-listed companies and began collection parts and donations to make the build happen. As the money and parts came together, Chuck's team at Truck Transmission and Turbo upgraded the Dodge and prepared it for the surprise.
Once the upgrades were done and Brian arrived home from duty he was brought to Truck Transmission and Turbo to discuss what was being "repaired" on the truck and what other maintenance items were needed. As Brian was brought outside to the truck a crowd of supporters was waiting to surprise him and the finished truck was revealed. Brian was sent home to enjoy his new ride for a short time before his next tour of duty overseas.
Questions for Sgt Brian's Father:
How did your involvement with Chuck at Truck Transmission and turbo who did the surprise build on (your son in law) Sgt Brian's truck come about?
I met Chuck at the Armbrust Pro Gym late last summer. We both own diesels and had a lot to talk about from the start.
How did the idea for the build-up on the truck happen?
The idea came up in a conversation with Chuck during a bicep workout. I thought that it would be really cool if we could create a network of companies that would want to thank a Marine for his dedication and service by adding some performance pieces to his truck. My initial thought was a chip and torque converter. He went crazy and thought it was a great idea.
Chuck called me about two weeks later and asked me to come by the shop. So I dropped by the next day and he had an enormous list of parts that he wanted to add to the truck. At that point Chuck made several phone calls to his list of customers and was able to put the rest of the project together.
What was the story with Brian coming into your life?
It's all Jeanne's fault. I met Brian when he was seven. I had been dating his mom, Jeanne, for about six months. She was not real sure how an introduction to Brian would go. I had a pick up truck and a dog, what did I know about children. She finally decided to take the plunge and I showed up in a 77 Chevy Step-side with a Golden Retriever and he looked like Santa Claus had just walked in. He and that dog became inseparable and he eventually inherited the truck At that time, I think that he was the more mature of the two of us. To this day, neither he nor I can figure out who got luckier.
How have things been with Brian being in the service and being away overseas?
Having a son/ stepson over seas is no big deal. Adding combat to a deployment changes everything. Not a day went by that we weren't praying for a safe return. We missed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years eve, Easter, His 25th birthday, and his moms birthday. Weeks went by where we did not hear any word from him. Then we would get a text from Kacey (Sgt Brian's Fiancé) that she had heard from him. Media stories only made it worse. Having the knowledge that some one actually wants to kill one of your loved ones creates a lot of stress. Jeanne and I are still not sure how we made it.
One night after he got back he said to me "Ya know, fire fights are really no big deal". I said "You wanna bet!. Just ask your mom".
What did having the chance to put together the truck with Truck Trans for Brian mean to you?
Chuck and I have grown much closer since the beginning of this project. Seeing the generosity of the companies, and the people, that donated to the project have renewed my faith in the American way of life. None of these people new who Brian or I was when they committed to making this happen.
How did the build and the reveal go and did everything turn out as you hoped?
Chuck pulled the whole thing together and made the build come together. He and his guys put their hearts in to the project. The truck was an enormous success. On a scale of 1 to 10 I would have to give it an eleven.
What was the result that you saw with Brian after the reveal day and how (if anything) has his relationship with the truck changed that you have seen?
Brian is still on cloud 9 with the truck. As you know, Stock is slow and his truck was just that, Very slow. He now has a truck that any Marine would love to own and his goal is to put 1,000,000 miles on the truck before he sells it.
I feel badly, This horsepower addiction can be a very destructive sickness when not dealt with properly. I really hope that Kacey is prepared for what could lie ahead. He is already talking about more new parts. Injectors, inner cooler, water injection. The list just goes on and on. It is an affliction that I have had to keep in check for several decades. Sometimes and out break just can not be helped and new parts must be added to take care of the withdrawals.
Questions for Brian:
How did your decision come about to join the military?
I wanted to serve my country, and do my part in the war. I figured the Marines are the best way to do that.
What was the course of events that happened after joining the military that brought you to what you are doing today?
It is a very long story. But basically I fell into a spot doing what I've wanted to do from day one in the Marines, handling Working Dogs on a deployment with the kind of guys I work with now.
What has been the most challenging part of your job in the military so far?
Time away from family. I am traveling nonstop it seems.
What has been the most rewarding part of your military career so far?
Doing my job in the places I want to go and with the people I get to work with.
What do you use your truck for and how have things changed with that with the new upgrades?
I use my truck as my daily driver. I bought the truck to have a vehicle that had plenty of power, reliability and that I could drive for a long time. The upgrades obviously help in all of those categories. (The power being my favorite. My Dad always said, "Too much power is just about right.")
What was the course of events on your end the day of the truck reveal and how did things unfold?
My Dad said he'd dropped my truck off to get a rear axle seal that was leaking fixed, he dropped me off at Truck Transmission and Turbo in Wheat Ridge to pick it up. The guy who runs the place, Chuck Howell, said he'd heard I wanted to put a few upgrades on the truck. He pulled out an ATS catalogue and began circling things that he recommends I should do. After that he took me out to see the truck and on the way out he basically told me that everything that he'd circled in the catalogue was put on my truck already and that it had all been donated by local companies. I was floored. Chuck climbed in the truck and smoked the tires. I was like "holy sh!t my truck can do a burnout!"
What is your current schedule overseas vs. home and what are your plans when you are home?
I have no idea. I have pretty much always gone where the Marine Corps has told me to go when they told me to go there.
Sources & Sponsors
Armbrust Pro Gym
Colorado Window Systems
L&H Auto Body
Mile High Tree Care
Truck Transmission & Turbo