Brian Skupa of Rio Rancho stands proudly in front of his dream car, a 1992 Humvee, which will be 30 years old on Dec. 7. He has the paperwork to prove it. (Gary Herron/Observer)
When you’re driving a Humvee, you get looks.
When your Humvee is parked, you hear stories.
Such is the case for Brian Skupa of Rio Rancho, who owns one.
Skupa and the other 21 members of the Roadrunner Convoy Military Preservation Association, will participate Friday, Nov. 11, in the Veterans Day parade in Albuquerque.
Skupa often hears “Veterans with really good or really bad stories (about Humvees),” which are common, but none more poignant than one he heard during a static display.
A mother with two young children approached him and his Humvee.
“Is that the kind of vehicle Daddy was killed in?” he heard the boy ask his mother, learning the boy’s father had been in the vehicle-commander seat (right-front passenger) of a Humvee in Iraq when it hit an IED.
Skupa won’t forget that story.
He’s proud of his Humvee and has yet to be asked a question about the durable military vehicle manufactured by American General in Indiana. His came off the assembly line on Dec. 7, 1992.
Skupa grew up in McPherson, Kan., and when he was a youngster, outdoor activities were after-school entertainment — and cars.
He got his first car, a 1939 Dodge, when he was 14. A neighbor wanted to get rid of it, because its owner was getting too old to drive it.
Skupa still has it, along with a few other “cool” rides: a 1918 Velie, a 1929 Chevrolet, a 1939 Dodge, a 1968 Camaro and a 2008 BMW E93.
During his 20-year stint in the Air Force Auxiliary, he had his first opportunity to drive a Humvee, built to replace the Jeep used by the military.
“Someday, before I die, I’ve got to have one of these,” he thought.
In 1996, that dream came true. He won it at auction for $28,000 cash, which he had in his shirt pocket.
He then drove it from where it had resided since rolling off the assembly line, Hill Air Force Base in Utah, to his home in Chicago. The two-day trip had him on I-80, and with its top speed being 60, he was passed by almost everyone.
No problem. He had his dream car.
He and his wife Lisa have lived in Rio Rancho since 2004, and his Humvee is complete. He’s replaced everything that once was on the Humvee and everything works. Skupa has the original paperwork, showing the standard vehicle price was $44,000.
An improved Humvee version came out in 1994 and, he said, “By ’96, these were out to auction. These had little to no use at all.”
His Humvee has 108,000 miles on it. Skupa has put 100,000 miles on it, plus “thousands of hours of my life.”
He doesn’t drive it as much as he used to, because diesel fuel has gone from $2 to $5 a gallon, and he only drives it in parades with the Roadrunner Convoy, a group of older men and veterans.
It’s the only Humvee in the club. One member has what Skupa said is a “T-18 tank killer,” plus several Jeeps of World War II vintage, some owned by their late fathers and passed down to them.
His Humvee gets attraction mainly from Desert Storm vets and “young kids who’ve seen them in their video games.”