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Arizona Couple Trucks Salute to Service Members

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2004 – Arizona entrepreneurs Ed Negrin and his wife, Tonie, are self-described patriots who've decorated several trucks they own with red, white and blue motifs to show their support for U.S service members.

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Ed Negrin discusses his trucks' red, white and blue design theme with Air Force Master Sgt. Cassandra White and Army Master Sgt. Bruce Allen May 14 in the Pentagon's center courtyard. Negrin and his wife, Tonie, were at the Pentagon with two of their decorated trucks to show support for U.S. service members. The trucks feature photos of service members, as well as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld; Army Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command; other military leaders and President Bush. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The couple parked two Chevrolet 4-door sport utility vehicles in the Pentagon's outdoor center courtyard today. A thin vinyl membrane featuring colorful photos of service members in action, Defense Department leaders, and the commander in chief overlays the trucks' skins.

"It started as 'flag' trucks and then evolved into what they are right now," Ed Negrin explained, adding that the couple owns two more similarly decorated vehicles. The vehicle program he's dubbed "America's Truck" is a mobile statement that American troops engaged in the war on terrorism are "in harm's way defending freedom."

The Scottsdale residents, owners of a successful delivery business, said they were moved by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. After 9/11, the pair said they started plowing around 25 percent of their profits into patriotic appliqus for their SUVs and pickup trucks, and other troop- support endeavors.

U.S. Central Command first provided photos used for decorating the trucks, Ed noted. Most images on the trucks today came from DoD's Joint Combat Camera Center, he noted, with others provided by other military and civilian sources.

Tonie Negrin said she and her husband take the trucks and tour military installations across the United States. For example, they're scheduled to be at Fort Benning, Ga., next week.

At the Pentagon the pair thanked troops for their service, explained the purpose of their efforts, and gave away stuffed teddy bears representing each service branch and Bibles.

"We couldn't own a business and do the things we do in America," Tonie Negrin pointed out, "if the military didn't do what the military does."

Navy Lt. John Liddle dropped by to look at the Negrins' trucks, noting he was impressed with the couple's patriotism.

"It's quite an effort that they put out," the lieutenant observed. "That's what's really great about this country people are willing to do these things to show their love for our country."

Army Master Sgt. Bruce Allen and Air Force Master Sgt. Cassandra White said they also appreciated the Negrins' efforts.

"I think this is a wonderful idea," Allen declared, "I appreciate the support that they've given the armed forces."

White said the Negrins' patriotism and support for service members is "overwhelming" and "a beautiful thing."

Ed Negrin said he and Tonie volunteer their time and money in order for service members "to have some tangible way to be reminded that we appreciate them and what they're doing," he concluded.

More information about the Negrins' patriotic endeavors can be viewed at their Web site.

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Related Sites:
America's Truck
U.S. Central Command
Joint Combat Camera Center
National Military Appreciation Month

Click photo for screen-resolution imageTonie Negrin, left, passes out free teddy bears to service members May 14 in the Pentagon center courtyard. Negrin and her husband, Ed, were at the Pentagon with two of their decorated trucks to show support for U.S. service members. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageEd Negrin takes a picture of a soldier while other service members look over his red, white and blue decorated trucks May 14 in the Pentagon courtyard. Negrin and his wife, Tonie, were at the Pentagon with two of their decorated trucks to show support for U.S. service members. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore  
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