It was a great moment for a hero of The Greatest Generation.
Bobbie Carson is a longtime Chevrolet Corvette fan who was looking forward to getting his hands on an all-new, mid-engine Stingray but facing a yearlong wait due to the popularity of the model and tight supplies caused by the pandemic.
It’s an issue for everyone trying to buy one these days, but a little bit more of a concern when you’re a 95-year-old veteran of World War II like he is.
“They shut the plant down because of COVID, and then they had a problem getting chips for the car,” he said.
Carson recently moved to Georgia from Missouri, where he was active in the local Corvette owners club. Its members knew the issue he was facing and decided to see what they could do.
“His circle of friends got together and reached out to us,” Ed Morse Chevrolet general manager David Bean told Fox News Autos. “He’s really well liked in the community and we were excited to be a part of such a deserving effort.”
So the Lebanon, Missouri, dealer went to work while a club member reached out to a friend at General Motors. After a lot of calls they were able to secure a build slot for Carson on Sept. 6, when the 2022 models started rolling off the line at the Bowling Green, Kentucky, plant.
Carson said he was “honored” by the gesture and picked up his top-of-the line Arctic White Stingray 3LT with Adrenaline Red interior at the National Corvette Museum on Oct. 1.
“I think it’s the greatest car I’ve ever driven,” Carson said.
And he should know. Carson has owned seven Corvettes since his first in 1985.
“I was going to get an ‘84, and then they found after it came out, it was a real fast car and everything but it was too stiff, and they corrected that in the ‘85 model and it just happened that I was there when they arrived,” he said.
Carson, who worked in the process engineering industry, said the cars weren’t technically his but that he bought them for his wife, Jeanne, who recently died after 76 years of marriage.
“I usually had a company car, but my work was all over the world, so I didn’t use either of them too much,” he said.
His work trips were certainly more pleasant than his first overseas journey, which was on a troop ship to Marseille, France, in 1944 as an Army infantryman in the 42nd Rainbow Division when he was 18 years old.
“We were crowded into that ship like sardines, and we were escorted over there by six or seven destroyers protecting us from German submarines,” he recalls.
Upon their arrival, they were put on trains and sent to the Battle of the Bulge.
“We were just out of high school and were all athletes in good shape, went through a rugged training course, and then we went straight into battle … can’t imagine it,” he said.
From there, his division advanced into Germany and was among the first to arrive at the Dachau concentration camp, where he said they spent three days flushing out the last of the SS troops before helping to liberate Munich in the closing days of the war in Europe.
Carson shared his war story for a film produced by the Library of Congress as part of a series of first-hand accounts of the conflict.
“It was the most grueling thing I ever did. I talked for three straight days sitting in the same damn chair, and it was really a hard thing for me to do,” he said.
Given what he’s been through, he may have been exaggerating, but he should find the leather bucket seats of his new Corvette slightly more enjoyable as he uses it as his daily driver.