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    Army Reserve Soldiers, vehicles a favorite at LAPD safety fair

    Army Reserve Soldiers, vehicles a favorite at LAPD safety fair

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Alexandra Hays | Classic cars are lined up for judging at the Los Angeles Police Department's 11th...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. 1st Class Alexandra Hays  

    300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. - From classic cars to HMMWVs, spectators and participants alike came out to support the Los Angeles Police Department's 11th annual "Still Saving Lives" car show and safety fair Saturday.

    The event's goal was to raise funds for the LAPD's Valley Traffic Division - responsible for the investigation of traffic collisions and traffic-related crimes - which performs functions for the public that are sometimes outside of the city's budget.

    Army Reserve Soldiers from the 730th Transportation Company and the 387th Quartermaster Company, Mortuary Affairs participated in the event by providing a military vehicle display for the fair-goers.

    Valley Traffic Division Police Officer II Kevin Vanklaveren of the LAPD organized the event for the past three years and stressed its importance as a fund raiser.

    "The reason for the event is to raise funds for our boosters," Vanklaveren said. "These funds are directly assisting officers."

    Vanklaveren said the money raised by the Valley Traffic Advisory Council with the annual car show and its sister event, the "Still Saving Lives" Golf Classic each year, goes to the LAPD's Valley Traffic Division's uniforms and equipment, and also community outreach programs like child car seat inspections.

    "The event is the main lifeline of the VTD, picking up where the city is not able to provide funding," said Vanklaveren.

    Vanklaveren estimated about 5,000-6,000 local residents attend the fair each year, which is free and open to the public, enjoying restored classic cars, music, food, and learning the importance of vehicle safety.

    Car show participants paid an entry fee, and fair-goers could participate in a live auction, with all funds going towards the LAPD's Valley Traffic Division. Auction items included "a day with SWAT," and an LAPD helicopter ride.

    Owners of the classic cars on display entered the car show for varying reasons, but at least some specifically attended because they deemed the fair a good cause.

    "I'm supporting the police," said Gary Wales, owner of a 1917 La Bestioni Boat Tail Speedster and winner of "Best in Show." Wales said his nephew is a police officer in Topanga, Calif., and that is why he entered the car show.

    Alongside the meticulously-maintained classic cars, Reserve Soldiers enjoyed introducing local residents to Army vehicles.

    "It's fun showing people our vehicles," said Spc. Edwin A. Ramirez, a motor transport operator with the 730th Transportation Company.

    The Reserve Soldiers at the event answered questions from residents about the vehicles, allowed them to take photos, and even jump in the drivers' seat.

    The Soldiers also understood their role at the fair was a serious one.

    "We are informing the civilians to take an extra step to be cautious," said Spc. Andy Diaz of the 387th Quartermaster Company, Mortuary Affairs.

    Both Diaz and Spc. Valerie Fuentes, also a Mortuary Affairs Specialist with the 387th, agreed that their line of work added a somber reminder to the dangers of vehicle accidents.

    "We're here representing our unit, but also the worst that could happen," said Fuentes, stressing vehicle safety.

    As Mortuary Affairs Specialists, both Fuentes and Diaz are trained to handle the remains of their fallen comrades with full honor and dignity. Mortuary Affairs Specialists also occasionally embark on search and recovery missions to bring back the remains of fallen American Soldiers wherever they are found in the world.

    "It's a privilege and an honor to be selected to bring a family some closure," said Diaz.

    Their unit, the 387th, is also currently on a rotation partnering with a local police department's mortuary division, another display of partnership between the local police and Army Reserve units.

    For more information about the Valley Traffic Advisory Council, visit www.vtac-vtd.org.



    Date Taken: 05.31.2014
    Date Posted: 06.03.2014 22:01
    Story ID: 131991
    Location: WOODLAND HILLS, CA, US 

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