Though he never served in the armed forces, Steven Rhinehart wants to make sure the stories of Reedsburg area veterans who served in World War II are shared with the community.
Rhinehart owns Steve’s Auto Service in Reedsburg and remodeled his heavy-duty tow truck with different pictures from the conflict to help keep the memory of those veterans alive. Rhinehart said the pictures primarily have come from his family photo album and from a friend who served in WWII.
“It’s for the veterans in honor of what they have done and how they have served,” he said. “They have given up a lot.”
Rhinehart’s father-in-law, Command Sgt. Maj. Donald Olson, a La Valle native who served as a deep sea diver during WWII, is represented in two of the pictures. Another Reedsburg veteran represented in the picture is Riney Harms. Reinhart and Harms were friends and both enjoyed recreational flying.
“He was a good customer of mine,” Rhinehart said. “He knew I was a pilot and he was a pilot and we talked a lot.”
Reinhart’s truck also has pictures of Poplar native Richard Bong. Bong received the Medal of Honor during WWII and was one of the most decorated American fighter pilots, shooting down 40 planes during his service in the war.
The act of recognition is nothing out of the ordinary for Reinhart, said employee Jason Hahn, who ha worked at the shop for 23 years.
“He’s always talking about (the veterans) and their accomplishments and the sacrifices they have made,” Hahn said.
Joe Hahn, who also has worked for Rhinehart for 23 years, said when he sees the truck he not only sees the passion Rhinehart has for honoring those who served in the armed forces, but also providing the best service to people who walk into his shop.
“He’s constantly growing but he’s never stopped trying to do the best for his customers,” Joe Hahn said.
The truck has received positive reactions from the Reedsburg community since its debut in this year’s Reedsburg’s Butterfest parade, he said. Rhinehart said he takes the truck out about once every two weeks when providing towing services. He’s happy to tell customers the stories of any of the veterans pictured on the truck when asked about them.
“It’s very heroic to every one of them and what they did to serve the country,” he said.
While his tow truck mainly features pictures from WWII, Rhinehart has thought about adding other pictures to represent veterans from Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I’ve still got space left,” he said.