Purple Heart Veteran receives special mobility truck for his service

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – A high five can mean many things: from ‘good job’ to ‘thank you,’ and during their national High Five Tour, those with the Wounded Warriors Family Support are thanking wounded military veterans and their families in a big way.

Through their tour they drive a brand-new Ford F-150 Raptor from Ford dealership to dealership, asking anyone who stops in to take a look and say ‘thank you.’ But there’s something much deeper that this truck is carrying.

Purple Heart recipient and Vietnam veteran Jack Gill is getting a new set of wheels.

“So it’s going to be like going from a Model-T to the Starship Enterprise, so I’ve got some learning to do with this truck,” Gill said.

It’s a new special mobility-equipped Ford F-150 Raptor.

“I have the hand controls obviously, and the wheelchair lift for my… chair, and it’s also got transfer seats on the passenger and drivers’ side,” Gill said.

Gill is being awarded this truck for his years of service to our country, he was inspired to join after high school after a few words from John F. Kennedy.

“In his address, he said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country’ so I took up that challenge,” Gill said.

He was nominated by his fellow purple heart veterans to receive this truck as a part of the Wounded Warriors Family Support’s High Five Tour.

“Being a veteran, to be able to volunteer and drive a vehicle like this and meet true American heroes like Jack Gill is very, very rewarding for us,” Wounded Warriors Family Support Volunteer Ed Mardiat said.

“This vehicle is here for a reason: it’s to raise awareness. There’s still soldiers deployed overseas – can’t forget about them, as well as the ones who have come back and made the ultimate sacrifice with their injuries,” General Manager of Sioux Falls Ford & Lincoln Ed Bloom said.

“I was injured on July 18th. I stepped on a land mine and lost both of my legs… right away,” Gill said.

Gill has been in his wheelchair since 1969, a pair of wheels given as a constant reminder of his brave act, but this new set as a giant thank you for that same act.

“He looks like an old grouch but he is a super nice guy and he would do anything for anybody and always try to help people out,” Gill’s Cousin Douglas Fields said.

“There’s more recognition now… for our service. {Gets choked up} …I don’t know how to explain it but it just feels… It’s heartwarming, you know, to be appreciated and to be thanked for the service,” Gill said.

The tour is halfway done, and at the end of it Jack will be presented the truck in New York on Veteran’s Day. You can learn more about the High Five Tour by visiting the Wounded Warriors Family Support’s website.

Vietnam Veteran Jack Gill (right), with his cousin Douglas Fields (left) admiring his new truck.

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