Day 10 September 15th, Sunday

Day 10 September 15th, Sunday

I was able to spend the last night in the city, but in a very nice Hampton room with a comfy bed that was gifted to us. It was amazing! The boys were able to swim and play in the pool 3 times and were tired. After bringing them home I decided to make the final food and water run for the 10 day mission.

It was a hot day and I found that it was best to deliver supplies after about 7:00 pm, but before dark. This is a prime time when it is not too hot and is not dark yet. Many people are in migration. I found spots in the city to deliver all kinds of supplies in an efficient and effective manner. I feel we did a lot of good for these people in some of the hottest weather we get.

Upcoming needs will be blankets, jackets, backpacks, and socks. Despite your views or opinions, or even mine, people will struggle with sleeping in a house or even a dry place this winter despite all we do. Some people will sleep outside, but we can make sure they at least survive it. Donate blankets for a more impactful next step in the mission to help people be comfortable.

In planning future acts, I would love to do something for the homeless one weekend a month and next year plan for 2 weeks of service. So for next month I would like to pass out blankets and clothing items. I have hygiene bags to pass out and water is always needed. Be prepared to see the Blazer of Glory in the streets of Chattanooga doing good for other people.

 

I think the Fallen 5 would be proud of the 2019 mission. The final act of the Fallen 5 Drive is to dip our tires into the river as a way to end the mission until next year. It is always a relief to complete a tough assignment. We were successful in achieving change for many people in Chattanooga because of your support! Thank you for the support!

Joshua David Kapellusch

Day 7 September 12th, Thursday

Day 7 September 12th, Thursday

Waking up on the 12th meant taking down the flag from the main sign. I wanted people to see the flag flying and know the 9/11 victims and Fallen 5 were not forgotten. Once up I went to remove the flag by driving there in the Blazer of Glory, but the shifter broke when I went to back up. Once realizing what just happened I decided to walk to the main sign. Since we slept in the park it was not too far of a walk. I actually enjoyed the walk early in the morning to retrieve the flag. In the dawn’s early light, the flag was still there!

We took a couple pictures of the flag hanging and then folded it up for next year. I taught Olivia how to fold a flag. Each time the flag was folded this year someone learned how and I got practice too! Flag raising and folding is important process and holds respectful meaning in each fold. To fold a flag one must take great care with each fold because you must reach the end with enough excess and have formed a perfect triangle.

After folding the flag, the humbling walk back in front of the building where the men lost their lives gave me time to think about their last moments. I am still here with a mission and they left while on their mission. Picking up the flag and carrying it on is all of our duties and we each do it differently.

Getting back to the truck I figured out what we could do to get a cable made as soon as possible. The part that broke was critical. I called Hudlow Axle and they recommended Hydraulic Supply Co. in Chattanooga and they were able to make a custom cable before the end of the day. We decided to go shopping and get more supplies for making burritos again. The people requested them as they are filling and easily eaten.

After getting the cable and food I set to work fixing the truck and adapting the plans for the day. I forgot some small bags and needed ice for the cooler. Once back at the truck I set up a cooking station for 96 eggs and 50 burritos with cheese! My little fold up table and Coleman grille were ready to cook 6 eggs at a time and package up the food as quickly as possible. After 2 to 3 hours of cooking I was exhausted and it was dark. I got to work before looking at the clock, but it took much longer than I anticipated. The pups and I were ready for bed!

Joshua David Kapellusch

Day 3 September 8th, Sunday

Day 3 began with a beautiful sunrise in the morning overlooking the City of Chattanooga. It was peaceful and calm. With the sunrise we could hear the traffic and energy of the city come to life. Each day on this mission I awoke wondering how much good I could do for others in need. My mental balance was between serving those who were living, those who sacrificed their lives for others, and serving my own needs.

The major plans for the day including cooking hot dogs and passing them out with water. This means we would set up the grille and cook and package them up in zip lock bags. Each morning I made French pressed coffee, as I do every morning, and began planning the day. Each day at this point was going to be planned as the day went. I was learning a lot about what the real needs on the streets were.

Food is a big part of what we were doing. Additionally, seeking resources such as blankets, hygiene items, and coats was an important next step. I learned new information from those we served and we asked what their needs were. Some spoke of anticipating housing soon while others wanted simple items such as hand sanitizer.

My personal goal is to raise awareness for the status of homelessness in Chattanooga and care for these people on a personal level. Being a small team of dedicated people and dogs, we were able to impact people on an individual basis which was a special experience. Part of driving around was finding new places that were overlooked by others. Generally, there were people close to the Chattanooga Community Kitchen which is open daily for food and other resources.

To spread the word on our mission we headed to the Sunday Market at the First Tennessee Pavilion which was also a car show. We walked around with the dogs for a bit and shortly after left to help more people in needs. Later that night we visited Craven’s House again overlooking the city.

 

Joshua David Kapellusch

Day 1, September 6th, Friday

September 6th, 2019. Day 1.

The 2019 Fallen 5 Drive began with an early morning 6:30 AM run across Walnut Street Bridge and across Veteran’s Bridge. The two dogs and I stretched out, then I did some pushups and leg lifts. My goal is to honor the men with as many laps as I can run, and think about what they sacrificed while doing so. PT is a big part of daily life in the military and I know getting myself into shape will be a good thing for me as well. I want to take these 10 days to improve my community and myself.

My goal this year for the Fallen 5 Drive is to honor these men by doing good things for the community through my actions. Feeding and helping the poorest in our community is important because it is how we Americans should be taking care of one another. Serving your country can begin by helping people right in your own back yard.

Once I reorganized the truck after getting supplies, I headed to the Chattanooga National Cemetery to visit the graves of the SSGT David Wyatt and PO Randall Smith. It was a very peaceful day to observe the tempo of the city. The cemetery is very calm and it was an honor to spend time resting with some of our national heroes.

Once I finished at the cemetery I drove to the mural near the cemetery. After taking a picture of the truck next the mural I headed to the river park to let the dogs swim and check on the memorial in the river park. As far as I could see there was no progress on the site unless I was missing something. One of my goals is to check in on Fallen 5 memorial sites to ensure progress is being made and that they are kept up.

I begin the Fallen 5 Drive the same way every year. I visit the initial shooting site and eat a meal with the Fallen 5 at the Lee Hwy memorial. This year I folded up a flag with 2 volunteers for the Navy. It was special teaching these young men about the heritage they are about to embrace. Once I arrived at the Riverpark, I dipped the tires back in the Tennessee River and put water on the flag.

Now that the drive began, my next mission was to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pass out waters. I made about 40 sandwiches and handed out about 60 water bottles. I simply drive around and see who needs food or water. Since I have been helping some people who are homeless, I have a good idea of where to start and where I can make a large impact. One of the highest concentration of people with needs is outside of the Community Kitchen. We often deliver most of the supplies here after driving around for a few hours. After a long day the dogs and I slept in the truck off Lookout Street.

Joshua David Kapellusch

2019 Fallen 5 Drive Events

2019 has been quite the year so far! The Fallen 5 Drive is still alive and rolling thank God! I have attended 2 events for the Fallen 5 – the Coker Tire Cruise In at Jordan Park and the Military Kids Serve Too at the Creative Discovery Museum.

At each event I allow kids to get in an start it up. Often they are seen revving the truck to 6,200 RPM with huge grins on their faces! The sound of clean freedom rings out to inspire these little spirits and to honor the Fallen 5! These acts are my medicine that help me in life. I live to serve others, especially those in our communities who deserve it.

As you may know, since getting rear ended in the Blazer of Glory in September of 2018 – my life has changed. I survived a 45 MPG impact and so did the truck. Neither the truck nor I was able to recover as quickly as I had hoped. However, I designed the truck to take such an impact so I and others would survive if there was such an accident.

There are still damages on the truck that need to be fixed although it still drives. It has limped along so far to the short events locally. I will need help fixing it as I have limited resources so reach out with support such a access to a garage and an area to store the truck.

I will keep everyone updated as we progress!

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 4. Colorado Springs to Pikes Peak to Orem, UT. 614 miles

Waking up on day 4 was amazing. Mack and I survived the cold wind and rain and I felt refreshed. Honestly, I believe the good sleep was from not getting any the night before. Also, seeing the Rocky Mountains is very reviving in the morning. After taking some pictures and saying our goodbyes, we departed for the nearest coffee shop to wake up more and get some internet. 

As I sat there staring out at the mountains I couldn’t help but think about which one was Pikes Peak. I then researched it, mapped out the distance, calculated my fuel loads, time for the day’s travel, and calculated the risk of climbing Pikes Peak in the World’s First 5 fueled truck! The fastest Pikes Peak climb record in a vehicle was reset in 2018 so I figured I’d make another record in 2018. The difference between me and Volkswagen is that I set a world record in a vehicle that was self-built from a passion for doing good for others with essentially no media coverage and very small funds…and I’m just one American dude who designed and built the World’s first 5 fueled truck to make a statement and hopefully an impact?

Anyway, despite the risks of breaking down, starting on fire, driving off the mountain, and the lost time from the drive up the mountain, I decided to do it! I made sure my fuel tanks were about half full for natural gas and propane. I only put 10 gallons of gasoline in the Blazer of Glory back in Chattanooga, so I didn’t really need any gasoline. I knew going up I would use natural gas as far as I could, then switch to propane when it started losing power or running rough. As we ascended in elevation I kept a close eye on all my computers and fuel trims. I knew that this would be the most challenging tune of my life driving up Pikes Peak.

Somewhere about halfway up, the natural gas was not happy. It needed more air per fuel ratio and as we drove up there was less air, less power, and the engine was not performing at 100%. I could have kept tuning on natural gas, but I switched to propane and restarted our journey to the top. Once on propane the truck was much happier although I would continue tuning the whole drive up, leaning out the fuel mixture to make sure the engine was running great!

As I climbed higher and higher it got colder and windier. I ended up wearing all my coats and hats to keep warm as it was in the 70’s just a few moments earlier. This is why Pikes Peak is so challenging – the vast change in climate and elevation makes it very difficult to get a car perfectly tuned to race up. As I tuned I drove and that’s when I saw them: 2 Ford Model T’s driving up Pikes Peak together! It was an amazing moment for me as these trucks were innovative for their time, are convertibles like mine, and were still driving so well they could climb Pikes Peak. I felt the importance of the mission and my purpose for the truck. I am taking the memory of the Fallen 5 with me wherever I go and I feel they and God are watching over me on the trip especially when things go wrong. They also seem to create moments such as following these 1925 Ford Model T’s up Pikes Peak, then to park right next to them and compare almost 100 years of automotive technology. How amazing!

After getting too cold and excited it was time to head back down! For this decent Mack and I enjoyed ourselves on the mountain taking in the views, the moment, and capturing photos/video to share. We stopped 2 times to cool our brakes, raised the solar panel to become an aero-brake, drove through a snow-storm, and ate a bit of lunch about ½ way down. After finally getting off the mountain and back on the road it was already 4:00 pm – much later than I anticipated.

As the sun was setting we drove through the Rocky Mountains at almost the same time as last year. Some places were cooler than others we experienced in the openness of the truck. At this point the changes in elevation, temperature, or weather seem to have little affect on my comfort. Mack and I were used to being outside on our 4th day.

After calculating my mileages, fuel loads, fuel stations, and time I set a destination of Salt Lake City, UT. Driving into the night is unpredictable since you don’t actually know how far you can mentally or physically make it. Setting goals and making the mileage no matter the hour is vital to this mission’s success. Sometime after driving countless miles I began thinking about companies and other stops I could make to have a greater impact on others and to honor the Fallen 5.

I researched Ready Gunner in Orem, UT and Black Rifle Coffee Company in Salt Lake City, UT to plan where I would wake up. I chose to sleep at Ready Gunner since I love guns and coffee so what better than to wake up at a coffee / gun shop owned by veterans! The only problem was that I hadn’t had a shower in 4/5 days and I drove so long that when I got to Orem, UT the sun was coming up. I quickly stopped in a Flying J to take my much needed first shower of the trip before arriving at Ready Gunner.

Mack and I were quite tired so I made some shade from one of our American flags and tucked into my sleeping bag. I woke up maybe 2 hours later as the sun rose over the Utah mountains! It was epic! And so calming.

Joshua Kapellusch

D-DAY – Departure Day for the Fallen 5

3 years ago today 5 men were gunned down by a cowardly so-called terrorist. Our Fallen 5 set out on this day to serve their country as they had done many times before not knowing it would be their last. Usually war is prepared for and death is sometimes anticipated as you go to war. This was different in that these men were defenseless and were not deployed, simply working hard training at home here in Chattanooga.

Terrorism is the weapon of cowards. It is not even gorilla warfare, it is the lowest form of attack conceived by man. A disgruntled individual or individuals who form groups cannot have honor, nor command respect. To be hidden, shadowy, and seek only opportunities that present the least amount defense is weak at best.

The best way to fight terrorism is with love and unity. If we begin to accept and tolerate people who are different from us, we can being to make progress. We must be ever vigilant from threats in our communities, especially with our children. Terrorism is taking on new forms in ways of school shooting, even vehicular attacks. The same old problems persist, an extreme rage of anger with acts of violence toward masses of innocent people. If you see something say something, talk to someone and intervene. Even if it is something small.

July 16th, 2018

Lets never forget the Fallen 5 by keeping them in our memories. Pray for their families and loved one. Pray for me as I make this memorable 5,000 mile trip.

Joshua 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