Geared up for anything

Man fills collection with period Army artifacts and rigs

By Jennifer Moody
For Lebanon Local
Glenn Lamora’s neighbors joke that when the Apocalypse hits, they’re coming to his house.
They figure the giant Army rigs parked in the Lebanon man’s driveway mean he’s qualified to handle just about anything.
Lamora laughs at that. Yes, he’s got a two-and-a-half-ton 1966 M35A2 cargo truck, a rig known as a “Deuce and a Half.” And yes, the Deuce has Army-issue company: a 1967 5-ton M52A2 truck, a gun trailer, a longbed trailer and a cargo trailer, all ready to hit the road.
But all of that is just a hobby, he insists. Then he pauses and shakes his head with a wry smile.
“No,” he says. “It’s a disease.”
For almost a decade, Lamora has been collecting period-authentic Army material from the 1960s through the 1980s. You name it, he probably has it: helmets, backpacks, tools, radios, mine-detection kits, Coleman lanterns, pens, fire extinguishers, generators and more.

LAMORA’S COLLECTION includes all period-authentic items a soldier of his time would have found in a small HQ, including a coffeepot.

Among more than 100 manuals in his collection is a guide to the making of Army eggs and sandwiches.
“I have military toilet paper,” he says.
He can tell a visitor the hows, whens and wheres of his collection. The whys are a little more complicated.
Part of it is because it’s material Lamora himself would have used – did use – as a recovery chief mechanic during more than a decade of Army service. Part of it is honoring the legacy of the men he worked with: ordinary items used by ordinary soldiers who nevertheless performed extraordinary service.
Part of it is a hope that someday a museum might set up a permanent exhibit to continue telling that story. And part of it, maybe, is simply a way to return to the Army career he chose to leave but that never quite left him.
“It’s just a damn sickness,” he says again, with a shrug.
Now 64, Lamora grew up in Waldport, a self-described “troubled” kid who landed in the military because that was the choice a local court gave.
He was 17. His parents had to sign for him. “I was given my option of colors and I chose green,” he quips.
Lamora’s family was already familiar with Navy blue: his parents, aunts and an uncle all served. Maybe that’s why he picked something different, he thinks.
He didn’t really have a plan, but the Army was ready to supply that. It was November 1975 and Vietnam had ended six months earlier, and one of the critical shortage areas was crewmen for the short-range ballistic missiles known as Lance missiles. So initially, that’s the training he received.

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Lamora’s M32A2, the M52A2 and an M172 longbed trailer.

Lamora found that funny. Here he was, a kid who was sent to the Army because he’d gotten in trouble, now given secret security clearance and assigned to a nuclear missile program? Yet after he finished Basic and Advanced Individual Training, he was on his way to Germany to serve in a nuclear missile battalion for the next three years.
He found the intensity of the personal and military discipline that had to go with a nuclear program – everything from shoes to haircut – wasn’t really his speed. So when his three-year term ended in 1978, he left the service, figuring he’d come back later to do something he actually wanted to do.
That return came in 1980, and Lamora was sent to Fort Knox to learn to be a turret mechanic for the brand-new M1 Abrams tank. His first job was helping to write repair manuals for the vehicle by taking one apart and documenting every step and every tool needed to repair every possible part.

IN THE BACK of a cargo trailer known as a build-up, Lamora has set up everything that would be needed for a small headquarters, circa 1980.

Some of the materials he helped to write are still in use today, he adds, “which I’m very proud of.” And much of what he did led to many of the items in his collection.
In 1985, the Army sent him back to Germany to be a recovery chief with the 3rd Armored Division – which didn’t have a single M1 Abrams. It did, however, have its predecessor, the M60A3.
The Army needed people to go wherever a downed tank might be and get it running again, even under the worst of circumstances and with the fewest of supplies. It wanted go-getters, self-starters, maybe even people willing to bend a rule here and there.
For Lamora, who never liked being told what to do, it was a good fit. The best part was being given the authority to pick his own team, so he went looking for people just like himself. His source: the Army’s “blotter report,” the bad-conduct rap sheet kept on anyone who got out of line. “The ones that can charge hell with a bucket of water and get stuff done.”
“By the time I left,” he says, “that was the most elite recovery section in Germany.”
Those are the men Lamora thinks of as he builds his collection.
He was with them for only five years, leaving the military for good in 1990 after marrying his wife, Connie, and declining a new deployment to Korea for a year. The first Gulf War in 1991 might have changed that order, but Lamora had no way of knowing that was coming.
He turned instead to civilian life: millwright, welder, electrician, hydraulic technician. He and Connie had three children. And then one day in 2012, on a trip to the coast, Connie spotted the Deuce and a Half, complete with gun trailer, in the lot at Newport Rental Service.
“Want to go back and look?” Lamora remembers she asked him.
“To me,” he adds, “that was pretty much permission to buy it.”

GLEN LAMORA of Lebanon poses Dec 16 next to his M35A2, which was the start of his collection.

That started the collection.
At first, Lamora just thought it was a fun rig to take the kids up running around logging roads. But he got to thinking if he had the truck, he should have the period-authentic tools to take care of it. And then he figured he should have everything else that went with the soldiers like himself who used those tools.
“When I got this truck, it tells a very small story of the life behind the individual soldier,” he says. “I wanted to tell a story. Show the clothing of the period, guns, weaponry. … I wanted to collect it because I wanted the truck to be complete.”
The Deuce and a Half led to the 5-ton M52A2, then to the 1946 M172 trailer, which he saw –  covered in blackberry vines – while on a motorcycle ride a few miles outside of Lebanon. He had hoped eventually to purchase a tank of his own, but figures he doesn’t have the years or strength to keep up with it like he once might have.
Lamora’s most recent vehicle acquisition is a 1965 M105A2 maintenance trailer, called a “build-up” because it was designed to be customized to haul whatever supply or spare parts were needed in the field.
His particular build-up is essentially a small headquarters. In it, he stores just a small portion of his overall collection, all of it period-authentic from his own time in the service, from the coffeepot and can of Folgers down to the January 1976 copy of MAD magazine in a drawer (a “Jaws” parody on its cover).

THE INTERIOR of Glenn Lamora’s Deuce-and-a-Half includes a model grenade as a gearshift. Below, signs in his collection reflect his military memories.

“You could time-travel to my day, to Germany, take it into the field and use it,” he says. “I built this up to celebrate the guys I had on my crews in Germany.”
“To most people, this is a piece of history,” Lamora explains. “But to me – I dealt with these things when it weren’t no fun. Now, I can pick and choose whatever I want to. There’s no, ‘You will.’”
In pre-pandemic times, Lamora took some of his rigs and collection items to car shows, parades and various festivals. He has walls covered in plaques and a shelf full of trophies. He’s hoping COVID-19 conditions will improve to the point where he can take his setup out again this summer, such as to the Northwest Art & Air Festival or any event that lasts more than a day.
Someday, he figures, he’ll need to find a new home for the collection.
Ideally, he says, it would be set up on a permanent place where people could walk in and immerse themselves in the life of a soldier in the field, circa 1980.
“The trucks are small, mechanical, physical things,” Lamora says. “The story behind this, all the people involved with this, all the conflicts it was involved in – it has to go on. Someone has to do it.”
Sometimes, other veterans see Lamora’s collection and ask for a closer look. Some sit in the trucks. Some tell stories. Some cry.
“They say, ‘Thank you, this is what I needed,’” Lamora says. “I see that, and I know I’ve done something here.”