On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, World War I came to an end when Germany signed an armistice agreement with Allied forces. The next year the day would become known as Armistice Day, commemorating the end of WWI and honoring those who served our country. In 1954, President Eisenhower, a veteran himself, signed a bill that was passed in Congress officially changing Armistice Day to Veterans’ Day in honor of American veterans from all wars.
“Between 1954 and 1975, around 2.7 million Americans served in the Vietnam War,” shared Derek Moore, Director of Collections / Curator at the National Corvette Museum. “Approximately 600,000 of those Vietnam War veterans are still alive today. Dr. Harry and Anne Rumzek approached us to donate their 1970 Monza Red Corvette in honor of Vietnam Veterans.”
From 1959 to 1979 Major Harold Rumzek served in the United States Air Force. During his career he was assigned to B-52 bombers, including bombing missions in Vietnam. A highly decorated combat veteran, Harry’s career saw 158 combat missions, including being assigned to the crew on the world’s first supersonic Mach 2 Bomber. The list of Harry’s accomplishments in the Air Force go on, but it was his wish to recognize others with his donation.
“In May of 1970 the B-58 Hustler was phased out and my assignment for the SR-71 was cancelled just before I bought the car. There’s over 50 years of memories with this car – I bought it brand new,” shared Harry. “My first adventure, I went across Nevada, 399 miles in four hours from Wendover to Reno. There was no speed limit back then in Reno but I went through 10 towns there the speed limit through town was 25 mph, so I had to make sure I went from 125 back down to 25! While in Nevada Elvis was going to premier in Las Vegas – so I made a right turn and I watched him.”
Harry’s spirited drive through Nevada to California wouldn’t be the only time he tested the car’s speed. He’s taken laps at Texas Motor Speedway, has drag raced, and participated in autocross over the years (including in his 1980 Corvette). Harry’s 1970 Stingray participated in the Motorama II to celebrate General Motors’ 100th Anniversary. He’s in the Museum’s Duntov and Spire Societies, a member of CowTown Vettes where he served as Texas Motor Speedway Coordinator and a Pit Security Worker for 13 years, a National Council of Corvette Clubs Life Member and was a charter member of the Wichita County Corvette Association where he served as NCCC Governor and Vice President. He currently also owns a 2012 Crystal Red Metallic Corvette Convertible.
Harry has about 54 years of schooling under his belt including 26 schools in the Air Force, a bachelor’s in education, master’s in communication, master’s in clinical psychology and a PhD in Behavioral Medicine. His military ratings include USAF Navigator, Senior Navigator and Master Navigator ratings for 3,200+ in-flight hours and over seven years flight experience; the USAF Combat Crew Member Badge; Air Training Command Master Instructor Badge with 3,000+ classroom hours as Navigator/Bombardier, Flight Instructor, and Flight Commander; and the Mach 2 Pin for supersonic flight in the B-58A aircraft. Major Rumzek was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross; Meritorious Service Medal; seven Air Medals; three Air Force Commendation Medals; six Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with ‘V’ for Valor; Organizational Excellence Award; Combat Readiness Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Medal; Vietnam Service Medal with five campaign stars; two Humanitarian Service Medals; Vietnam Cross of Gallantry Unit Award with Palm Device; Republic of Vietnam Service Medal; five Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbons; and the Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon.
“November is Military Appreciation Month at the Museum, and the month in which we celebrate our veterans with our annual Vets ‘n Vettes event,” shared Dr. Sean Preston, President and CEO of the Museum. “We were delighted that Harry chose such a significant day to donated his car, and how he’s dedicated it to his brothers and sisters in arms.”
“It’s an honor having my car here,” shared Harry. “I lost over 100 friends in the military – 55-60 in Vietnam. I’d rather have it here at the Museum honoring these guys.”