Military Transport Association of North Jersey
Dedicated to Preserving Historic Military Vehicles

By Dennis R. Spence, Founding President

In 1969, I formed the first 4 wheel drive club on the East Coast of  USA, the Boondock Blazers, which was based in North Jersey. I served as its first President. I also started its newsletter, Low Gear Low Down. The club was active for the next 30 years or so.

When the 4 wheel driving hobby became more popular, it increasingly emphasized modified high performance engines, expensive special exhaust systems, and lots of chrome. I was more interested in the history of 4 wheel drive vehicles than in racing them. The only way to keep my interest was to start a club for like-minded fellows.

Using initially my contacts from the Boondock Blazers, I started a membership drive to form an historic military vehicle club. As I recall, Ollie Kenen was the only active member of Boondock Blazers who immediately switched to the new military vehicle club, besides me, of course.

The hardest part of starting a brand new club is to find a common day and time for meetings, and a central location. Harold Ratzburg offered his home in Parsippany for the first meeting, which was held on 4 December 1972. 1 was elected Chairman, Harold was Vice Chairman, Charles Gausten was Secretary, and the late Jack Tensen as Treasurer. The new club was officially known as the North Jersey Chapter (NJC) of the National Military Vehicle Collectors Association (NMVCA).

The most active members during NJC's first 2 years of trail rides were the following: Charles Gausten, Ollie Kenen, Harold Ratzburg, Jack and Jeff Tensen, and John Vetter, and yours truly.

I started NJC's monthly newsletter, Motor Pool Messenger, in January 1973, volume 1, number 1. I retired as its Editor in 1989 with volume 17, number 2

The National Military Vehicle Collectors Association, formed by Frank Bricker, was based in southern California, and had its first meeting in October 1970. It was the very first national historic military vehicle club of any type anywhere in the world, with the possible exception of one in Australia. The NJC was the very first chapter in the eastern half of the USA.

Inspired by the success of NJC, I started the South Jersey Chapter in January 1975. In May 1976, Ollie and I directed the East Coast Military Vehicle Rally at Fort Dix, NJ. In July 1976, we led the MVCC International Rally/Convention at Lakehurst, NJ. The South Jersey Chapter made major contributions to both.

On 31 March 1976/1 April 1976, the NJC switched its national affiliation from the NMVCA to the newly formed Military Vehicle Collectors Club (MVCC). (The MVCC was actually first incorporated in NJ on 12 January 1977).

In 1986 and 1987, there was much dissension within MVCC, even a lawsuit, and NJC gradually became Military Transport Association of North Jersey (MTA). MTA had no national affiliation for a period, but after MVCC was reformed as Military Vehicle Preservation Association (MVPA) in 1990, MTA joined it shortly thereafter.


Affiliate Group Profile: North Jersey

The Military Transport Association of North Jersey  organized in 1972 by Dennis R. Spense and first met in Harold Ratzburg's family room as a gathering of military vehicle enthusiasts. The new MV collectors were those who were interested in vehicle history, mixed with others who were off road 4 WD explorers. This group of individuals organized as The North Jersey Chapter, which affiliated with the National Military Vehicle Collectors Association (NMVCA). The chapter incorporated in the State of New Jersey in 1976.

When the NMVCA declined, some of the North Jersey members were instrumental in starting the MVCC. Local chapter members held Charter MVCC Membership numbers. (No numbers were lower than #101.) Dennis Spence was # 101C, Ollie Kenen # 102C, Sally Bromage # 116C, Ted Bromage # 117C, Peter Shaw # 119C, Harold Ratzburg # 126C, Marc Ziegler # 142C, Peter Berendsen # 147C, and Pat Lombardi # 151C.

When John Vetter was Army Motors editor from 1976 to 1985, many work meetings were held in Peter Berendsen's basement recreation room where the pool table, counter tops and all available floor space were used at the end of the meeting to stack, label and sort by Zip codes each new issue of Army Motors.

Club outings in the 1970's included camp outs and trail rides in the Pine Barrens at the eastern end of Long Island, organized and led by Stan Poole # 146C. Other trail rides explored power line tracks in the mountainous northwest of the state. A regular fall event was the annual open house at Sarafan Auto Supply. This provided an opportunity for exchange of militaria and ideas between collectors from the Mid Atlantic region.

In the 1980's, annual mid-winter W.W.II style USO dances with live orchestras and vocalists were held in local country clubs. As suburbia expanded, off road locales for trail rides disappeared.

The chapter, now renamed "Military Transport Association", presently has over 100 members. Activities include about twelve parades and displays each year with 10 to 15 vehicles at each parade. Members' vehicles include MBs, GPWs, a GP, a GPA, M38s, M38Als, M151s, a Dodge Command Car, an M8 Armored Car, an M114, M37s, and several CCKW and M-series "deuce and a halfs". Charitable work has included school displays, participation at train shows and collecting Toys for Tots. Family activities currently include a fall Pumpkin Picking and Country Road Ride, a winter pizza party, and family luncheons after some parades. The regular monthly meetings are well attended and serve as forums for club planning, exchange of restoration advice, and assorted "Tall Tales".

-Peter Berendsen, Former Newsletter Editor for the Military Transport Association.

Dennis Peter Harold Dick

The MTA presents Lifetime Memberships to four of its Founding Members.
From left to right: Dennis Spence, Peter Berendsen, Harold Ratzburg and Dick Ivory.
(Photo circa,  20 January 2003)

Gary Schultz

The MTA presents a Lifetime Membership Award to George Schultz and his son Gary.  As George is no longer with us, Gary is pictured here accepting the award for both for them. George Schultz was a long time member of the MTA and MVPA. George Schultz was a past Vice President of the MTA as well as Show Chairman for several years. George and Gary both joined the MVPA together back in 1979 when they bought their first WWII Jeep.
(Photo circa,  10 March 2003)

Peter and
          Sally Farewell

A fond Farewell to Sally and Peter Berendsen
 As many of you know Peter and Sally will be retiring and moving to the Napa Valley of California next month.   Both have been long time members of our club and enthusiastic supporters of many of our events and activities. “The NJ Chapter and club members have been like an extended family”
said Peter and Sally.
(Photo circa,  9 June 2003)

Keeping the History Alive

The MTA participates in parades, ceremonies, and displays for museums and schools. The MTA is dedicated to educating everyone about historic military vehicles and the personnel who used them. More than 150 members participate in 20 parades each year as well as educational events, trail rides, and rallies.

Meetings are held the 2nd Monday of every month at the American Legion Hall, Legion Place (off Mt. Pleasant Ave.) Whippany, NJ. Come at 7:00 p.m. to meet fellow military vehicle enthusiasts while having pizza or a sandwich. Meeting starts at 8:00 p.m.

Join the the MTA for only $20* (per year) and receive:

12 issues of the Motor Pool Messenger newsletter.
FREE classified sales and wanted ads in the newsletter.
Notices of parades, car shows, and other events in which to participate.

*And the Family rate is $25 (per year) Husband, Wife & children under 18 yrs old.

newBy-Laws of the MTA new

Officers of the MTA

President : Randy Emr

Vice President : Dennis Vecchiarelli

Sargent At Arms : Scott Fleck

Recording Secretary : Vinnie Schwartz

Corresponding Secretary : David Ahl

Treasurer : Ginnie McDevitt

Parade/Events Coordinators : Peter Schindo

Membership : Fred Schlesinger

Newsletter Editor : David Steinert

Webmaster : George Wagner

Military Show Chairperson : Bill Murphy

Railroad Operating Battalion : John Sobotka

NJ National Guard Adoptees Chairman : Gary Schultz

Supply Room : Randy Emr

Czar of Electronic Media Communication : Brad Kerber

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This page last updated 11/08/2015.