Gallery: Tricked out '51 Chevy Dedicated to Fallen 'Dark Horse' Marine

The family of fallen Marine Lance Cpl. Phillip Vinnedge will use the vivid truck to promote charities in Missouri.

Lance Cpl. Joseph Scanlan, 1st Marine Division

The parents of a fallen Marine displayed a restored vintage Chevrolet pickup truck, painted with a patriotic mural, for the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment in a showcasing on base last week.

David and Julie Vinnedge dedicated the truck to their son, Phillip, and the 24 other Marines of the "Dark Horse: battalion who were killed in Afghanistan in 2010.

Lance Cpl. Phillip Vinnedge, son of Julie and David, was an antitank missile gunner who served with Weapons Company, 3rd Bn., 5th Marines. He joined the Marine Corps with his parents’ consent when he was 17 years old, as he was determined to join the military immediately after the terrorist attacks of September 11th.

“On the back of the truck there is an image of the ‘twin towers’ in flames,” said David, a 54-year-old St. Charles, MO, native. “At that time he was 10 years old, and he said he was going to join the military. He wanted to fight the terrorists and ensure that it never happened again.”

Vinnedge was originally slated to enlist on Sept. 11, 2009, but was very disappointed when his enlistment date was pushed back a couple of weeks, David said.

Once he graduated boot camp and Infantry Training Battalion, Vinnedge was assigned to 3rd Bn., 5th Marines and deployed to Afghanistan in 2010.

Before leaving, Vinnedge planned on buying a 1951 Chevrolet 3100 pickup to restore with his father once he returned from his deployment. However, he struck an improvised explosive device while driving the lead vehicle on a patrol and was killed immediately along with three other Marines on Oct. 13, 2010.

“About two weeks after his death, our family got together and decided we wanted to honor Phillip by restoring an old Chevy pickup for him,” said Julie.

David coped with the loss of his son by focusing his time on restoring the truck.

It took 18 months to restore and paint the truck, and the artwork on it took six weeks, said David. The air brush artist worked eight to ten hours a day, seven days a week working on the truck.

The images on the truck resemble events from Phillip’s life and ideas that were important to him. The illustrations include the World Trade Center twin towers, Phillip in his Dress Blues, the vehicle Vinnedge was killed in, Julie standing in front of her son’s tombstone and a child portrait.

Julie and David are using the truck to promote charities such as the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, Missouri Military Memorial Foundation, the Patriot Guard Riders, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, and more.

Julie said she hopes the truck will also bring attention to service members who are fighting to keep the nation safe.

“I want people to remember our military,” said Julie. “I want people [who] see anyone in uniform to go up and tell them ‘thank you.’ Give them a hug and tell them you appreciate what they are willing to do.”

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