Strangers rebuild cherished Jeep for Air Force veteran with ALS

TURTLECREEK TWP. — A project three generations of men couldn’t complete because of health reasons was unveiled last weekend after strangers rebuilt a 1979 Jeep for an Air Force veteran diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

On Saturday, five months after the men gathered Jeep parts that were scattered on Bill Hammock’s garage floor, the bright red Jeep was delivered, leaving the owner in tears and speechless, he said.

Then he couldn’t stop talking about seeing the Jeep again.

“It was absolutely beautiful,” said Hammock, who bought the CJ-7 Jeep in 1983 and drove it until it needed major repairs. “What those guys have done in such a short time. It was one of the best days I’ve ever had. It’s such a blessing in so many ways. They have become family.”

Rocky Sexton, who owns Assured Automotive and one of the leaders behind the Jeep rebuild, said numerous companies and individuals donated supplies and their time and talent. About 40 Jeep owners gathered Saturday at Armco Park, then drove to the Hammock residence off Ohio 741.

ExploreMcCrabb: Strangers help man with ALS rebuild Jeep for one more ride

Bill Hammock’s son, Eli, 30, was given the honor of driving the Jeep for the first time.

Bill Hammock, confined to a wheelchair, said his wife was diagnosed with the coronavirus recently, and he believes he contacted the virus last month, though he was unable to be tested. There were times, he said, when he didn’t think he’d live to see the refurbished Jeep.

“It will never be forgotten,” he said.

Eli Hammock said there’s “no way” his family can repay those who worked on the Jeep. Hammock disassembled the Jeep about 20 years ago and stored the parts in his garage with the intention of rebuilding it as a family project with his father and son.

His 83-year-old father suffered a ruptured aneurysm and three years ago, Hammock, 58, was diagnosed with ALS that has a life expectancy of three to five years.

Sexton said he believes he and his two best friends, Lane Nally Lane and Tommy Soard, were guided to work on the project.

“God put us all in the same position,” he said. “I believe this was the reason.”

Sexton wasn’t sure how many people worked on the Jeep. At times, he said, his garage was packed with people from all walks of life. Sexton said all the volunteers completed two to five years worth of work in five months and the work was valued at $25,000.

“When he learned three generations couldn’t finish a project, it tore our hearts out,” he said. “We came together as strangers and left as family.”

Those who contributed to rebuilding a 1979 Jeep for Bill Hammock, an Air Force veteran diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease:

  • Little T’s Paint and Body
  • Bolt Tightner Mobile Fleet Repair
  • Highlift Off Road
  • Middletown Area Jeepers
  • Muddy Buddys Jeep Wrangler Club
  • Dayton Jeepin
  • Broke Girls Jeep Club
  • Berserks Off Road Fabrication
  • Middletown Collision Center
  • Hanna Paint
  • Painless Wiring
  • Brent’s Smokin’ Butts and Grill
  • AutoZone
  • O’Reilly Auto Parts
  • Dayton Clutch and Joint
  • Middletown police officers
  • Treadmaxx Tire Distributors

About the Author