Two Cars at Antique Auto Festival Honor Vietnam Servicemen


EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. — As many as 1,500 cars from more than 25 states are expected to roll into Eureka Springs this weekend.

The 47th Annual Antique Auto Festival started Thursday and will run through Sunday.

You still have time to head down this weekend.

One of the highlights is that two of these cars belonged to Vietnam servicemen killed in action.

They will be honored at the event on Saturday.

“It’s America’s true sports car,” Tilman Durham, car show board member, said. “It’s the only, the first and only true sports car that’s survived since their beginning. We’ve got two 1963 Corvettes, that were originally owned by GI’s that lost their lives in Vietnam. And we’re going to honor them for their patriotism and sacrifice.”

“We had a neighbor with six boys, and one of them had a ’61 Corvette,” Kelly Bolton, of Oklahoma, said. “And I claimed I worked as much on that car as he did, the owner of the car. So that set the mark early in my life. So I said ‘Someday I’m going to own one of those.’ And mine’s a 1963 two-top. And when I went to check the history of the car, it turns out it was from Huntington, Arkansas. And it turned out it was from a fallen soldier from Vietnam.”

“My split-window coupe; it’s a 1963,” Billy Varnell, of Oklahoma, said. “The gentleman who purchased this was a young man, went into the military, flew a helicopter for the United States, in the Vietnam era, and was shot down and killed in Da Nang.

“I’m a lucky guy to actually end up with that car. The family kept it from the get-go, and I was able to purchase it from them about five years ago. And, I could sell it for money, but you can’t buy the stories.”

“I think it adds something special because it’s just the legacy of the car,” Bolton said. “I’m going to keep it forever, and the disposition of it will be up to my son. So it’s a special car. And it gets special treatment.”

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