Vietnam Vet Takes Depot Marines Back To Yesterday's America
(January 15, 2011)
|SAN DIEGO - At first glance, the building of Only Yesterday Classic Autos and Hall of Heroes looks like any other industrial office establishment found riddled throughout San Diego's suburbs. However, once inside, one may feel as if they have entered a time capsule containing some of America's most beloved autos and historical treasures.|
|Although it's not a time capsule, Only Yesterday Classic Autos and Hall of Heroes is more of a showroom and museum for Chuck Spielman's private stable of classic autos spanning from the 1930s to the present, along with a priceless collection of military memorabilia from throughout the last century. Spielman, a U.S. Army Vietnam veteran and retired commercial real estate executive, opened his collection for private viewing in 1998 in New York, then moved it to San Diego in 2001 after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.|
For 20 senior Marines and sailors from Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, an afternoon tour of Spielman's priceless dream collection was an opportunity to
Bob Rabourne, community outreach representative, Only Yesterday Classic Auto and Hall of Heroes, briefly explains the history of Spielman's 1967 Chevrolet SS convertible to Marine Drill Instructors of Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego Jan. 7, 2011. The tour of Spielman's private collection was an opportunity to gain a greater appreciation of 20th century Americana and learn more about military history from different perspectives.
|gain a greater appreciation of 20th century Americana. Deeply inspired by his patriotism and a dream to pay tribute to war veterans, Spielman privately funds his efforts as a whole.|
|“My inspiration in creating the Hall of Heroes is due to a life-long interest in World War II and a desire to pay tribute to its veterans before they all pass away,” Spielman said.|
During the guided tour of Spielman's personal automobile collection, he and his community outreach associate, Bob Rabourne, split the service members into two groups briefly explaining the history of how each vehicle was acquired. Some of the vehicles featured during the tour included a 1964 Pontiac GTO convertible, a 2010 Corvette ZR1 with a 638 hp supercharged V8 engine, and a 2010 Ferarri Scuderia, one of only 499 produced worldwide and 90 imported in the U.S.
After seeing the lineup of modern marvels, the service members toured the Hall of Heroes, which places an emphasis on WWII. Here, Spielman and Rabourne explained intricate details of the background of some of the military artifacts that he has collected over the years. From the fork and spoon of Eva Braun to the service uniform of a WWII veteran, each had a story behind it. This proved intriguing to some.
“The highlight of the trip for me was to try and put myself in the moments in time from which some of these pieces came from,” said Sgt. Maj. Wayne Pedersen, battalion sergeant major for Support Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. “The people, the places and events that were represented affected world history forever.”
For some service members, seeing the vast collection of autos and how pristine they have been restored was also a highlight.
“Learning about the history of how each vehicle was acquired and what events surrounded that period was very interesting to me,” said Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Velis, company gunnery sergeant, Headquarters and Service Company, Headquarters Battalion, MCRD San Diego and a native of Los Angeles.
While Spielman's dream collection has proven its value and importance to military service members throughout the years, the Only Yesterday Classic Autos and Hall of Heroes museum are not open to the public. Having the privilege to tour Spielman's venue is limited to ages 16 years and older who have requested and been granted an appointment. This provides a small group of people the opportunity to gain a greater appreciation for America's past.
“This is the stuff you don't learn in the history books,” said Velis. “The way they presented what circumstances surrounded each artifact and each vehicle at the time was a major highlight.”
Meanwhile, the next item on Spielman's list of things to do includes completing a third phase of the Hall of Heroes.
“We are currently working on several sections that pay tribute to women in the military and the allies of the second world war,” Spielman said. “We also plan on having a display of various veterans' memorabilia that includes their personal stories.”
While veterans and active duty service members alike will continue to share in Spielman's dream collection, the fact remains that his tribute to the military is a reflection of genuine American patriotism.
“I just want people know that Spielman's time, resources and personal effort into this facility is really an honor to our veterans, active duty service members and military supporters who do so much for our country,” said Rabourne.
|Article and photo by USMC SSgt. Marc R. Ayalin|
Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego
Provided through DVIDS
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