Day 5 September 10th, Tuesday

Day 5 September 10th, Tuesday

I awoke to another beautiful day in Chattanooga. The forecast looked good for many of the days I was to be on the mission. After driving the truck, I noticed a vibration in my driveshaft which meant I had to replace the u-joints as soon as possible. The added weight and constant accelerations are hard on the drivetrain. I made a plan to accomplish the repair early in the morning after getting started for the day.

I had some burritos on ice left over from yesterday. I am finding that going to pass out food and water was better done after the food kitchen was closed. People who are homeless have limited access to resources after hours which includes water, food, and bathrooms/showers. It is personally frustrating to me that a city so great as Chattanooga is, has only a partial solution to a human living issue. A lot of people are confused as to the best solution. Many people have many different needs. Part of the problem begins by looking at the homeless population – as individual humans who have unique needs. I am simply trying to cover the basics of food and water to provide comfort. However, simple solutions can easily provide a humane living condition for many.

After getting the truck repaired, I headed to the library again to finish up some decals for the truck. To make the mission a success I seek sponsors to help cover some of the costs of the mission. In previous years we used most of the money for fuel, food, and lodging to get the American Flag on the Golden Gate Bridge. This year we used fuel money for food money, and put it in people’s mouths.

I want to thank our personal sponsors and our company sponsors: Olivia Rekoske, Jason Padilla, Zack Chastain, Willie Wilson, David Lightfoot, John Lippincott, and Jason Robinson. Our company sponsors include MTN View Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram, and Hudlow Axle. You all made it possible in 2019 to feed and care for those that need it most. We will continue to help people throughout the year as we are able, thank you!

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

2019 Fallen 5 Drive Sponsorship Opportunity – Now Open!

Click here for a PDF of the letter: Sponsorship Letter, 2019

 

Dear Supporter,

I am on a mission to never forget the Fallen 5 – the 4 Marines and 1 Sailor who were killed in the terrorist attack on July 16th, 2015 in Chattanooga, TN. I have dedicated an annual 5,000-mile drive from Chattanooga, TN to San Francisco, CA in their honor, by carrying a special folded American flag from the shooting site and then flying it from the Golden Gate Bridge. I named it the “Fallen 5 Drive”.  I am turning a tragedy into a triumph with your help, to heal our community and spread the message of unity and love across our country – values we all Americans share.

To make the trip a success I need sponsorship and donations to cover the costs for the mission. Each year I receive support from the community in and around Chattanooga to help involve others and provide a healing mission. I demonstrate how we Americans can work together in times of need and how we never forget about the people who sacrifice everything to protect others.

By sponsoring the trip your organization will benefit from the positive associations of helping out a great cause. To never forget is our mantra… never forget about the Fallen 5, the police and fire departments, the service members who never made it home, and for those still serving. Americans always answer the call to serve, we always have. I am asking for your help in carrying the message of never forgetting the Fallen 5 heroes for 5,000 plus miles and for the rest of the year.

Sponsoring the trip will generate a huge amount of positive publicity and community goodwill on your behalf, due to the fact that the mission is vitally important to our community and country. The truck looks so different and cool and receives a ton of attention – and it is also the World’s First 5 Fueled Automobile! It is a vehicle for a larger message of how Americans work together for an improved future and inspire one another. Sponsorship can come in many ways such as financial contributions, parts, or volunteering. You will be listed on www.fallen5drive.org, our Facebook page, and other social media accounts to show your support. Naming you or your organization is possible at every news interview on TV and radio, in press releases, in local and national newspapers, and other coverages.

By sponsoring the 2019 mission you will have the opportunity to support a once-in-a-lifetime memorial, a completely original truck, and be affiliated with setting at least 1 World Record or more! The mission will take place in August or September for the 4th consecutive year. Sponsorships are filling fast so a quick response will ensure you get the best exposure for your organization. If you cannot sponsor the mission please share the mission with others, visit the website, like and share the Facebook page, and follow the mission as we embark on the journey.

Contact Joshua Kapellusch – the founder of the Fallen 5 Drive and builder of the truck for more information. Visit www.fallen5drive.org for updates and to read more about the mission.

Thank you and sincerely,

Joshua D. Kapellusch

423.414.8233

fallen5drive@gmail.com

 

 

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 3 Mission Update- Salina, KS to Colorado Springs, CO. 417 Miles.

Arriving late in Salina, KS left us in the dark and about to enter a heavy storm. I picked this stop for a propane stop as I mapped out our fuel and sleep stops for the mission. Keep in mind we must travel at least 500 miles a day to keep up with the mission: 5 fuels, 5 days, for the Fallen 5. I must calculate distances for each fuel stop, directions, and distance goals for each day.

Last year we stopped here for propane and the company in Salina, KS named Propane Central filled our tank for free! Awesome people! I wanted to stop and say hello again, but I would have to wait until the morning. The wind and rain made this night of the trip the worst for sleeping and comfort. The wind blew so hard the trap kept ripping off just as I dozed off to sleep. So at about 5:00 am I finally fell asleep for about 2 hours. It was like sleeping in a Wal-Mart bag…horrible!

Once awake and ready to go, Mach and I set out to get propane and coffee and head west. Every time I visit Kansas the people really inspire me with their kindness. All along the journey in Kansas I met so many kind people. Year after year, the people in this state are so nice and makes me look forward to seeing these people. The terrain is flat and grassy, but it is very peaceful. A few times after traveling for so long we would dodge off and travel down a dirt road for a bit either for a break or just to catch up on media and check on the truck. We met some nice cows and got some great pictures before heading toward Colorado.

Last year on this part of the trip I got a bad migraine and altitude sickness so on this day I was sure to hydrate and keep food in me. As I traveled I noticed that there was a tiny home festival in Colorado Springs, CO at the Air Force Academy! I checked the mileage difference between Denver and Co. Springs and decided to spend the night at the Bass Pro Shops with my tiny home friends! Arriving just as it was getting dark I was welcomed in and after a short time Mack and I were tucked into bed. It was cold, windy, and rained, but being among friends far from home was warming enough. Mack and I fell fast asleep after a long day of driving across the plains to the Rockies. In the morning we would awake to the view of the Rockies!

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 3, 2018

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