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Auto Show Honors Combat Service Members By Giving Away New Car

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2003 – One lucky service member will return from combat duty to see a new Toyota Camry parked in the driveway, thanks to a spouse or family member holding on to the car -- literally.

At the 2004 Washington Auto Show at the Washington Convention Center here Dec. 26 through Jan. 4, promoters will honor the military by giving away the car to one of six family members selected to participate in the show's annual "Hands On" endurance contest, in which contest participants see who can remain in contact with the car the longest.

The Camry -- reserved for military contestants only -- is one of four cars that will be up for grabs in the contest that begins Dec. 27 at 10 a.m. and ends Jan. 1 at 6 p.m.

Gerry Murphy, president of the Washington Area New Automobile Association, which is co-sponsoring the auto show, said at this year's contest organizers wanted to do something special for the families left behind by service members deployed in combat and to support troops overseas.

"This is tangible show of support from all of us who are grateful for what our men and women of the armed services are doing," Murphy said adding that he expects lot of families will enter. "I think they will appreciate that we appreciate them."

George Doetsch, Washington Auto Show chairman, said, "Our U.S. military personnel serving overseas are always on our minds, and we know the holidays can be particularly difficult for their families.

"Reserving one of the cars in the Washington Auto Show 'Hands On' contest for a military winner keeps their sacrifice at the forefront of our minds," he continued, "and enables us to have a brand new car waiting for one lucky soldier when he or she returns home."

Murphy said the six contestants will be selected beforehand, after their eligibility is verified through military channels. He said those selected for the contest will be notified by telephone.

Tamara Darvish, who owns a local Toyota dealership, was the person who persuaded Toyota to donate the car for the military contestants.

"It was just something I wanted to do for the service members who could not be home for the holidays, as reward for them," she said. "It's nothing I'm really proud of I'm more proud of (the troops) and what they are doing for this country," she explained.

Spouses and family members of service members serving in combat duty overseas can call 1-866-WASH-AUTO or enter online at the show's Web site.

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