Day 6 September 11th, Wednesday

Day 6 September 11th, Wednesday

Instead of driving across a bridge for 2019, I was sleeping under one. This time in Chattanooga, TN. The Fallen 5 Drive for 2019 had a different mission, making a difference for people in Chattanooga. I put myself in the shoes of people who are homeless, by living in the truck for most of the 10 days during the 2019 mission. In this way I could see what it is like to survive on the streets.

 

I was lucky compared to most since I had a vehicle to transport me and sleep in. On 9/11 we woke up with a flat rear tire, a slight delay, but we got rolling nonetheless even filling the tire on the side of the freeway to meet Lebron Clark in Ringgold, GA. Somedays even when things are perfect, you will get a flat tire.

Lebron Clark from MTN View Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Ringgold, GA donated $1,000.00 to the mission of helping local people who are homeless. We will certainly use the funds to help cover the costs of the mission and could not do it without his support every year of the Fallen 5 Drive! Thank you Lebron!

In previous years I spent most of my time traveling in the truck at 70 to 80 miles per hour, stopping only for carefully planned fuel stops, bathroom breaks, food, and sleep. In 2016, the first year of the Fallen 5 Drive mission, we stayed at hotels except for a few nights under the stars – which were my favorite. Each year thereafter on the Fallen 5 Drive, more nights were spent in the truck because it embodied the connection to our natural environments and energy of the drive since it had to be made in 5 days as well!

Last year my dog and I made the trip together and I made it an order to sleep in the truck every night on the way out. I succeeded in sleeping in it even at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge on the fifth night! I wanted the ruggedness of the trip to represent a deployment or hardship similar to what forward operating marines or others experience on the battlefield.

September 11th and July 16th are the same dates to me. I pay my respects to each and this year was no different. September 11th sparked my passion for patriotism to protect my community and serve my country. I served for over 4 years overseas during war. I made Chattanooga my home. The terrorist who attacked us caused us to mourn, but actually made us stronger, noogastrong. My mission is to show our solidarity and remind others of the sacrifices the Fallen 5 made for us. I honor that and these men the best way I can.

I flew another flag on the sign of the Navy Operational Support Center and Marine Corps Reserve Center of Amnicoal Hwy on September 11th, 2019. Our American Flag represents the hardships we have overcome together and our unity as Americans. What it means to me is that we work together like the stitches and striping, the stars and the bars. The flag represents our history, both good and bad. We must allow ourselves to react to one another with love and respect at all times, despite intense personal feelings without thought. Democracy is meant to be a logical process of deciding on issues to unite us, not divide us, based on majority voting.

We have shown as Americans and Chattanoogans, that we can be united especially after a tragedy. However, we should not only be united after tragedies, rather all year and over years and this is what I am attempting to demonstrate. To help those with the least is the best I can do.

Additionally, those that demonstrate the core values of what it means to be an American can often be found in public service such as in the military, judicial circuits, and police and fire fighting people. More important than government services is the neighborly or good samaritan acts we can share with one another when we are in need. Learning skills such as CPR or simple wound care can save people’s lives in emergency situations. As a country we should have millions more who are certified. There is a lot we can all be doing to help one another in need.

On this day I chose to feed service people such as cops and firefighters. I chose Krispy Kreme doughnuts of course to hand out to different departments. I first visited the Chattanooga Police Department on Amnicola Hwy since they saved everyone’s lives that day on July 16th, 2015. They were very thankful for the 24 doughnuts that were dropped off! I then visited UTC’s Police Department since they are always vigilant in protecting the future leaders of the community, as they become leaders themselves. My final stop was at the fire department off Main Street across from Slick’s Burgers. They were all gracious.

Joshua David Kapellusch

What July 16th Means to Me

July 16th, 2015 is a day which will live in infamy for me, personally. A tragedy for sure, a loss for all. Despite the time that has passed, I have recognized the lasting effects of such an event on my life and in my community. A seething rebuke fuels my passion for turning this tragedy into a triumph. My response to the coward who showed up in his rented convertible blazing away at our unarmed heroes, was to peacefully fold up an American flag and bring it across the country to demonstrate unity and love.

Each year after the attack, I have made good on my personal oath to these men – to NEVER FORGET. I do my best with a unique vehicle which represents American ideals of freedom, creativity, and unity. We need not fight one another in this country, rather respect and understand. We need not agree on everything, but we must be united in order to successfully achieve the ideals that we all work toward.

Teamwork and love bring things together, and makes life better. My team of builders, donors, and supporters allow me to achieve the seemingly impossible – driving 500 miles per day, on 5 fuels, to fly the folded Amnicola American Flag from the Golden Gate Bridge.

I created the mission from a place of love and desire to make my community and country better. My mission is to honor these men for 5,000 miles – to give them a voice and a meaningful mission which is in motion. It is a significant, living and moving memorial that takes our Chattanooga community across the United States.

Despite tragedy, we became stronger. Chattanooga Strong! The theme for 2019 is “The drive is still alive”. And I am still alive despite being involved in a rear-ending in the Blazer of Glory after returning home. This type of accident was my biggest fear, but through my hard work and sponsors the life-saving roll cage and rear bumper worked to save my life. The drive is still alive! However, the Blazer of Glory is needing repairs and preparation for the 2019 mission which leaves on September 6th, to be on the bridge on September 11th. This date seems fitting and 100% appropriate.

To become a valuable member of the team all you have to do is like, share, or support our mission! If you feel compelled to donate you may on the fallen5drive.org website as funds are needed to make the mission a success. I want as much support as possible so we may all heal and grow our community and team of Fallen 5 Drive supporters. WE WILL NEVER FORGET!

Thank you,

Joshua David Kapellusch

The Return Home

The only thing left to do for the annual ceremony after folding up the flag is to put ocean water on the flag and tires to connect the two bodies of water. When we leave the shooting site I dip my tires into the Tennessee River and put river water on the flag. When I arrive on the coast the bodies of water are connected. The final connection for the completion of the mission is to dip my tires back into the Tennessee River and put final drops of water on the flag until next year.

Once off the bridge I feel an extreme weight lifted off my shoulders. The first 5 days and the 6th day are all about getting to the bridge in time without breaking down. Even months before leaving I must begin preparing for the mission. Last year I had to leave late due to a lack of funds to leave on the 16th of July – the annual date of the attack. We chose instead to be on the bridge on September 11th and it was very special. This year I raised more funds before leaving and also worked hard to save money up. I also plan my whole summer around making this trip. I have never worked harder in my life, prior to leaving for the 2018 trip, to prepare the truck and my schedules.

That last little drive over the bridge is so exhilarating! Mission complete…until I get home! I am relieved of duty at this point! I made plans to meet my best friend from when I was in the Air Force who lives in San Francisco. He and his friend went surfing as Mack and I sat on the beach relaxing watching the waves crash and flow. Throughout the trip it was my goal to have deep self-reflection and really address some things in my life that needed to be dealt with. I struggle with depression and am technically a serviced disabled veteran, although I struggle with shame admitting this.

This trip gives me hope for each coming year to do something that gives me purpose, which is unique, and can be used for good for others. I fight my depression not with pills, but with positive actions. I try hard to do good things for good people and teach others what I have learned. I make a personal goal to do a good deed for someone or something each day. This is my medicine; kindness. I honestly wonder sometimes if I actually suffer from depression, or is it the world that is depressing? By doing good things I can serve both philosophies, positively. However, I forget to focus on myself and address my own problems at times. This year’s trip allowed me to reach new levels of understanding, vulnerability, patience, and knowledge as I persisted to challenging my insecurities.

In the military you harden your heart. You learn to not feel or express emotion –basic human functions – to better do your job. After years of challenging experiences, a hardened heart and mind, and some trauma you are different forever. The hardest thing to ever do is soften a hardened heart or try to connect to people who have never served in the military. The bonds veterans share across all branches in the Department of Defense, is one of the strongest ever created. Even over generations a single look and head nod is all that’s needed to convey a thought of understanding. Sometimes a tear or two will fall from an expressionless face. We veterans all know without words, the meaning behind every tear we shed for the sacrifices we all made to make this country a better place for all of us. We all gave some, some gave all.

As I watched those waves coming over and over I realized the waves are like problems in life – they keep coming each a little different, but they never stop. We have the choice to keep swimming or to stop fighting and drown. With each powerful wave is a lull. In these lulls we recover and regain our strength for the next one. My hope is to inspire others to achieve their dreams as I have no matter what they are or how crazy they may seem. The Blazer of Glory is a vehicle of innovation and inspiration.

After getting even colder sitting on the beach we were finally ready to eat. I had not eaten all day! I invited my friend Casey to perform the water ceremony on the flag as it would have a lot of meaning for both of us. It was a special ceremony for me to do with one of my best friends. After eating and saying our goodbyes I set out to see my Mother and Step-father who haul produce from California. In about 3 hours I then saw my Mother way out in some field full of fog at midnight! This was pretty special. After saying hello and giving some coffee away I said goodbye as they drove off. I was exhausted and ready for bed. There was no way I was going to drive anymore in that fog! Mack and I slept until later in the morning. This was the first time I felt fully rested in 7 days!

The next part of the journey was to realize a dream of mine for years…cruise the California coast in my convertible, American truck using clean American fuels. I was headed south to LA and The Enthusiast Network TEN, the headquarters for Hot Rod Magazine, Roadkill, and many more. My goal was to get noticed and publicized to further reach more people and inspire kids into responsible, high-tech hot rodding. The Blazer of Glory is loved by everyone.

Mack and I arrived late into the night. Driving into LA at 3:00 am to the hot rod mecca of the world was a thrill. I may or may not have shredded the flag on the solar panel due to some excessive speeds. 2 days earlier I noticed the flag starting to come apart and my little blasts didn’t help. Once in the parking lot I decided to make friends with the security guard who was awesome, and then I drove around for a bit checking out some Roadkill cars and finding a place to park and sleep. It was my intention to sleep in the parking lot, wake up and stay until someone noticed us. That’s exactly what we did!

After completing that mission, I was free to drive further south to visit my best friend from high school. He and his wife live the good life on the coast so I had no problem spending 2 days there. On my way back home to Chattanooga on the southern route via Interstate 40 east, I visit my Great Grandfather who is a WWII veteran of the Navy and who sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge many times during the war. I spent another 2 days in Las Vegas with him, went gambling for the first time with $5.00, and created memories that will last a lifetime. Driving into Vegas I hit a sand storm then intense rain which all blew straight into my face.

I look forward to getting home as quick as I can. I use mostly natural gas along the southern route home because it is the cheapest and is always available. I filled the propane tank in Vegas and never filled it again. I stopped in Winslow, Arizona and in Oklahoma City. I stopped in to see the Farmtruck and Farmbird. I was hoping to meet the guys from the show, but they were not there. Mack and I then set out for home with no other planned stops other than for food, fuel, or rest.

We had a pretty major breakdown. My driveshaft blew out on the freeway at about 65 mph which was my biggest fear with that truck. I put the truck in 4wd, backed up to pick up my driveshaft, and got off on the next exit. Normally I would just keep driving in front wheel drive, but for some reason this year all my 46-year-old spinning parts wanted to come apart. I found a small repair shop and they graciously offered floor space, spare parts, gave me $20.00, and bought my supper! I could not believe the kindness of Adam & Brooke Dishman in Warner, Oklahoma. If you need any kind of repair visit their shop Waysen Tire & Lube at 15 Williamson Circle, Warner, OK 74469. 919.913.4304. I “band aided” the driveshaft together and even welded the u-joint caps to the rear yoke since it was extensively damaged.

Mack and I made it back home on the 16th of August after 14 days on the road and ~ 5,300 miles later. We finished the mission by dipping our tires in the Tennessee River and finally by putting water on the flag. Looking at the next 2 years, I am thinking about how to make it better, different, and more meaningful.

I express the deepest and most sincere thank you to my sponsors, my supporters, my friends, family, and strangers on the road who become my heroes. Thank you,

Thank you to our sponsors and contributors for making this mission possible!

Mtn View Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Ringgold, GA

Grace Frank Group in Chattanooga, TN

Off-Grid Living & Design – Tiny Homes in Wildwood, GA

Joshua Kapellusch

2018 Fallen 5 Drive, Out.

The Return Home

Day 6 The Bridge

On day 6 I awoke to the sound of a small sea plane flying low and couldn’t help but think of all the WWII aircraft that would have been flying around in the early 1940’s. I love air planes and so this was perfect to wake up to. I also heard seagulls, wind, people, and my loud tarp flapping in the wind as it had every night so far. I peeked out of my tarp and saw it, the Golden Gate Bridge. The 2018 mission was about to be completed. I was excited, proud, sad, and relieved all at once.

I planned to leave my dog Mack in the truck and have him guard it while I completed the mission. I prepared the truck and myself to walk the flag. The only problem was that there was no clear path to hike up. After a short time of walking around looking for a trail I decided that I would have to drive, park, and walk the flag from the main parking area. I had to drive over the bridge, turn around and drive over it again to park. My biggest concern with this was that my dog would jump out of the convertible truck when I was on the bridge and he would be gone when I got back.

Once I found a spot to park I secured Mack and prepared to walk the flag. This part is actually the most emotional part. The time between parking and then walking the flag is euphoric. I had so many emotions at once. I was proud to have completed the grueling 5 day drive, relieved to have arrived despite mechanical issues, honored to sacrifice for the Fallen 5,  and sad to be alone on the bridge this year. Finding and choosing a co-pilot is tough, but I also wanted to make this year’s trip alone after my son said he couldn’t come this year. Another thing I needed complete this year’s mission was a volunteer to help me fold the flag. I realized how difficult this may be after hanging the flag. Last year we were on the bridge on September 11th which was really special.

Alone and walking I cried thinking about the loss of the Fallen 5. They were no longer here because of some cowardly “terrorist” attack. One individual caused so much pain and loss, my hope is that my actions combined with others, can overpower this evil act with love and unity. “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that”. – Dr. Martin Luther King.

 

 

The American flag represents our unity, our heritage, and remembrance for those who have sacrificed to keep this country free by protecting the Constitution and our Bill of Rights. Our freedoms, liberties, and general pursuits to happiness are under extreme attack today. There are those in government who believe the people shall be controlled and subject to governed rule, and then there are those who believe in shared ideals and common bond of love and happiness. The purpose of government is to guarantee and protect inalienable rights for all Americans to pursue happiness. Today it seems as though you are only allowed to be happy if you follow all the laws, regulations, pay all the taxes, don’t cause a problem, and simply go along with everyone else. This is not the American way.

When I fly that flag off the bridge I salute it, hold and feel the moment as the rush of all the busy noises of cars, bikers, walkers, wind, and chaos wash away into a complete silence and for those few moments I feel good – completely solid. In those moments I feel everything coursing through my body. I remember all the war documentaries I have studied, the number men and women who sailed under that bridge and never came home to protect our freedoms. I remember the Fallen 5 and why I am doing this mission. I remember my own sacrifices in the military and my grandfathers before me. I remember my sacrifices all year to make this moment happen. Most important to me I remember my sons who are looking to me for protection and guidance. I am doing for others, what I would have wanted done for me. It is as simple this; we all have a common bond as humans – we were created perfectly by God to do good works for others and to love others just as Jesus loved us. God sent his only son to die on the cross to pay for all of our sins saving us from evil. With God all things are possible and when I run out of 5 physical fuels I run on a sixth fuel – it is God’s love and the American spirit of unity we all share.

My goal is to inspire others to pursue their dreams of happiness by making technology work for us to live better, more free lives. Combining this with love for mankind and respect for one another we can make huge strides in making this world a better place. I want to turn this tragedy into a triumph and I am doing that each year with every mile I drive. All the times I stop and talk to people about the Fallen 5 and the truck – they are humbled and inspired, but they always remember the Fallen 5.

I want to thank all of my sponsors for making the 2018 Fallen 5 Drive a success!

Thank you to our sponsors and contributors for making this mission possible!

Mtn View Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Ringgold, GA

Grace Frank Group in Chattanooga, TN

Off-Grid Living & Design – Tiny Homes in Wildwood, GA

Joshua Kapellusch

Day 6, 2018

Day 2. Paducah, KY to Salina, KS. 594 miles

Waking up in the Blazer of Glory is an adventure in itself. Before leaving I picked up a tarp and some large clamps to make a “tiny house” for Mack and I on our travels. Each night after driving as long as I can I stop and try to pick a city with fuel, parts, and a place to park. We got lucky and found a nice place next to a McDonalds.

In the morning we were in the shade luckily, because the sun was warming the day quickly. Mack had fun night of protecting the blazer from evil cats! Someone was feeding them and it seemed to be a cat haven.

This day I knew I had some maintenance to do on the truck. Before leaving I completed some pretty extensive repairs and upgrades. At some point I had to divide up the tasks to ones I could complete on the road. It makes it more fun that way! I’ve brought most of my tools and spare parts to make any repairs as needed.

I arrived at O’Reillys to change my rear differential fluid to a heavy synthetic Royal Purple oil to cut down on the gear noise and give me a piece of mind. Royal Purple is the only oil I trust for racing or any extreme abusive situation. In fact, I only change the oil in the blazer once a year before the trip. After talking to some nice people and getting the work done, we were on our way.

This part of the drive is long, hot, and somewhat non-eventful. I planned out my fuel stops for the day. I would fill up in Saint Louis with Natural gas and propane. The goal would be to drive across Kansas without using any gasoline. The gasoline is actually just a back up….40 gallons worth! I try to use clean, American fuels the whole way. Mack and I just ripped across the country flying old glory for the Fallen 5 using American fuels. It is perfect.

Thank you to our sponsors and contributors for making this mission possible!

Mtn View Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Ringgold, GA

Grace Frank Group in Chattanooga, TN

Off-Grid Living & Design – Tiny Homes in Wildwood, GA

Joshua Kapellusch

Day 2, 2018

Day 2. Paducah, KY to Salina, KS. 594 miles

Fallen 5 Drive Update

Dear Supporters,

On July 16th I drove the Blazer of Glory all over Chattanooga, TN and to Ringgold and Rossville, GA. The community support was amazing! People always waive, honk, and give the thumbs up. It makes me so proud to be a rolling, living, memorial to the Fallen 5. I visited all of the memorial sites dedicated to the Fallen 5 on July, 16th and paid my respects. It was an honor to travel and see all the supporters in the city while in the Blazer of Glory.

I have delayed the departure of our trip to July 30th due to mechanical failure in the rear differential in the Blazer of Glory. Over the course of building the roll cage and rear bumper at Hudlow Axle in the week leading up to leaving, I noticed a small leak and drip from the pinion seal. Sometimes this can be fixed by simply changing the seal, or in this case it needed to be rebuilt. On July 16th I arrived at Hudlow Axle to repair the seal; I changed the outer pinion bearing and crush sleeve in hopes of fixing the problem.

Steve Hudlow, the owner of Hudlow Axle, is one of our supporting sponsors and allowed me to fabricate the roll cage using his tubing bender. His company which I work for several years ago specializes in differentials, gears, driveshafts, transfer cases, and many other specialized drive train services. After driving the Blazer of Glory on July 16th with the intent to leave that day, it was becoming a realization the truck would need a rebuild on the rear differential.

Luckily, I was in good hands again at Hudlow Axle with parts and tools. I performed intense surgery on the Blazer of Glory on July 18th replacing the bearings and races in the carrier and on the pinion. The main gear ratio is 3.73 with open differential carriers. The gear set was certainly worn as well; basically, everything was worn out in the differential in the 46 year old truck! So after replacing the bearings, the pinion seal, and oil I drove the truck some more. The rear differential is a little loud and the overall reliability of the parts is questionable at this point since the truck needs to be test driven more. It blew a faulty pinion seal on the way home from Rossville last night.

Blazer of Glory Maintenance

The best plan for making the mission a success without being stranded is to delay the trip a couple weeks and test the truck. I am disappointed, however the truck is a machine and machines break down. We are lucky to have discovered the worn parts before leaving! I will keep you posted on our progress and thank you for our support!

Joshua D. Kapellusch

Tune Into News Channel 3 for “3 Plus You” – We Will Be ON AIR! Friday June 29th, and July 4th

Julie Edwards from News Channel 3 called and invited us on her show! Lebron Clark from Mountain View Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Ringgold, GA arranged the meeting and we are thrilled! Tune into News Channel 3 for “3 Plus You” on June 29th, and again on July 4th.

Our message of remembrance is very important to be shared as it helps heal our community. Each year we must remember them and as time goes on it makes our mission even more important. The support from our community is awesome and could not be more proud of where we live.

As we drive across the United States thousands of people see the truck and remember the Fallen 5. The flag is hung from the bridge each year in their honor, folded back up, and rides in the dash of the Blazer of Glory.

Support our mission and remember the Fallen 5.

Joshua Kapellusch

Sponsor the 2018 Fallen 5 Drive, Read How

The goal of your sponsorship is to assist the Fallen 5 Drive Team with covering the expenses of the mission to carry the Amnicola American Flag to the Golden Gate Bridge to be flown. Each company or organization wishing to sponsor the Fallen 5 Drive is entitled to corresponding levels of support. The Fallen 5 Drive Team’s goal is to represent each company or organization fairly with sponsorship and placement on the truck and website. Earlier donations receive priority placement due to space limitations so reserve your space early. Joshua will customize your logo placement and coordination of any events and online support.

The overall goal of the drive is to maximize exposure for the remembrance of the Fallen 5 and our mission. In doing so we encourage people to support our sponsors who make the mission possible. We are a rolling, interactive Fallen 5 memorial that drives over 10,000 miles each year across the country and especially in Chattanooga, Tennessee throughout the year.

Levels of Sponsorship
Platinum: Primary logo / Company information placement on truck, falllen5drive.org website, and materials. Media coverage, name inclusions, and custom media around your company or organization. Events and other ideas are welcomed including media such as newspapers, tv news, and others to include potential national news. Joshua also speaks to people about the mission to groups in meetings to promote unity and purpose in the workplace. Sponsoring the mission is exciting!
$2,500.00

Gold: Prominent logo / Company information on truck, fallen5drive.org website, and materials. Mentions, inclusions, and custom media including your company or organization. Some events and other inclusions for certain events. Other ideas and custom supportive efforts are welcomed!
$1,000 +

Silver: Logo / Company information on truck, fallen5drive.org website, and some materials. Other ideas and custom supportive efforts are welcomed
$500 +

Hero: Individual, companies, and organizations are welcomed to support our mission. If you want recognition, please let Joshua know. Small donations make a huge difference in making the drive possible. We love to include as many people as possible since it feels so great to do something good.
$ any

To learn more contact Joshua at 423.414.8233 or [email protected]. Any ideas or suggestions are welcomed! Visit our Fallen 5 Drive Facebook page as well.

Thank you,

Joshua Kapellusch

Fallen 5 Drive Story