It's a Shark, It's a Plane, It's a Memorial Truck

It's a Shark, It's a Plane, It's a Memorial Truck

By Julia Deng
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - The grandson of a war veteran has been driving through West Texas in a one-of-a-kind mobile memorial.

Jesse Hernandez painted and embellished his truck to closely resemble the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, a fighter and ground-attack aircraft known for flying in World War II.

"This is my way of honoring American veterans," Hernandez told NewsWest 9. "My grandfather served in the Army. He was a helicopter pilot. We'd always go to air shows when I was a kid. [The Warhawk] was one of my favorite planes there."

He spent three months transforming his standard white pick-up truck into a work of art with "all the itty bitty details."

"I added everything I could think of from the original plane," he said.

The inside of the truck's wheels are lined with fake 50-caliber bullets, an imitation bomb is mounted in the back and a sign on the gas cap cover reads "JET FUEL ONLY."

"Everybody asks me if it really does take jet fuel," Hernandez said with a laugh. "But it's just regular gas."

The truck, however, is anything but "regular."

"I've actually gotten salutes and 'thank you's' [from veterans I've driven by]," he said. "It really means a lot to them that someone shows appreciation for what they've done."

Hernandez began asking veterans to sign the hood of the truck on Sunday.

Within several hours, he had collected nine signatures from eight veterans; one also signed for his friend, who had lost his life defending our nation.

"As they're signing the truck, I ask them to share their stories with me," Hernandez told NewsWest 9. "I've heard everything from how they didn't have ammo to [how they were] living off coconuts. It's crazy. I couldn't imagine something like that happening to me."

He said his "ultimate goal" is to drive through every state and cover the entire truck with veterans' signatures.

"I'd love to go all over the country and see what veterans I can meet," Hernandez said.

Veterans and military families interested in adding their history to Hernandez's truck - and sharing their stories with him - are welcome to contact him at (432) 770-9436.