23 May 2013
To Whom It May Concern,
I wanted to express my appreciation and gratitude to Jeep.
Today is the 306th day of my one-year deployment at Camp Eggers in Kabul, Afghanistan. My husband, Bryan Hutton, and my two-year-old son, Ricky, were staying at my in-laws’ house in Moore, Oklahoma, and were in the direct path of the 20 May 2013 tornado. My in-laws’ neighborhood was destroyed. My aunt’s house was a street over. It was a two-story house that is now no taller than Bryan’s knees. Fortunately, Bryan and Ricky had just enough time to get to the next door neighbor’s in-ground shelter—the shelter saved their lives.
When Bryan emerged from the shelter, he found part of his parents’ house collapsed upon our 2012 Rubicon, affectionately known and even tagged as “Stomper”. Yes, our Jeep was named after one of Bryan’s favorite childhood toys, those 4x4 toys that ran on a single battery and kept going and going. Bryan put Stomper in 4-lo reverse and Stomper got itself out of the rubble. Bryan cleared out the baby car seat which was full of debris best he could, strapped Ricky in, and for the next six hours or so used the winch to pull houses off of people and transported injured people to where they could get medical treatment.
My husband said Ricky was a very good boy in the tornado aftermath. Not a single complaint the whole time they were rescuing people, despite being in the same diaper and only having access to one bottle of water. I hate that both of them went through that, especially Ricky, but I like to think that Ricky’s presence helped to soothe the injured people. I think because Ricky was able to see everything due to the design of the Wrangler, it kept him from throwing a fit. Even a few days before the tornado hit, while my husband was hanging out at the house with his friend, Josh, my two-year old son asked his daddy, “Dada…Josh…ride?” They all piled in the Jeep and went for a ride with the top down. Ricky loved riding in Stomper. I even gave my husband a hard time while I’ve been deployed because he’s posted more Facebook pictures of Stomper than of our own son. He said that is because Stomper stands still for pictures. When I woke up in Afghanistan and saw the news on Facebook, I saw pictures of Stomper in the tornado aftermath and that is when I knew something terrible happened. Fortunately, Bryan also said that he and Ricky were OK.
We all loved our Stomper. We even went from Ohio, which is where my home base is located, to Seattle and back in Stomper right before I deployed to create family memories…we got off the interstate in South Dakota and only took non-interstate roads/paths to Seattle. We crossed the Continental Divide on a gravel road, went through Yellowstone with the top down (even when it was in the upper 30s), and got a little close-up to a bear somewhere out in Idaho. Good family memories. We think Stomper is a total loss…waiting on the insurance adjuster, but Stomper died a heroic death.
My husband’s birthday is today. I am so grateful that Bryan is alive to see his 36th birthday. With the help of Stomper, Bryan was able to rescue other people so they can go on to see their own birthdays. People call me a hero for being deployed in Afghanistan…but to me, Bryan is not only my husband, HE is my hero.
Thank you for a vehicle that my family loved!
Brenda L. Hutton