The Military Vehicle Preservation Association (MVPA) is conducting a 91st Anniversary Convoy with as many as 50 to 80 historic military vehicles traveling the original 1926 Route 66.

MIAMI – A grand convoy of vintage military vehicles vital to the transport of troops and supplies will travel en route on Route 66 through Miami this Sunday.

The Military Vehicle Preservation Association (MVPA) is conducting a 91st Anniversary Convoy with as many as 50 to 80 historic military vehicles that launched from Chicago, Illinois on Sept. 16 traveling the original 1926 Route 66.

The convoy will make a stop in Miami at the Wal-Mart store parking lot at 2415 North Main Street arriving around 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24 and leave early Monday morning, Sept. 25 to continue traveling Old Route 66 all the way to Santa Monica, California. The convoy has been following the old highway route through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and on through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and concluding in California, arriving there on Oct. 24.

The MPVA's mission is to provide an international organization for military vehicle enthusiasts, historians, preservationists and collectors interested in the acquisition, restoration, preservation, safe operation and public education of historic military transport.

The convoy will consist of privately owned historic military vehicles of all eras from World War I, Vietnam War Jeeps, large cargo trucks, on through to models of military vehicles recently released from military service use. Some of the MPVA Convoy participants will travel the entire length of the original route and others will join only portions of the route.

The vehicles will be on display to the public at no charge during their stops along Route 66, and the public is invited to come to see the convoy at the Wal-Mart stop in Miami on their ninth day of travel.

The convoy will be traveling to Miami from Carthage and into Commerce between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., first down Commerce Avenue before making a brief stop at the Northeastern Oklahoma Veterans Cemetery.

A local florist, Sunkissed Floral, has donated a wreath for the convoy participants to lay in salute to the veterans interred at the cemetery. The convoy will then proceed on to the Miami Wal-Mart where they will be treated to dinner by the Grove Chapter of Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (CMVA).

“We hope everyone will come out to line their route, wave, take photos and meet the convoy veterans,” Commerce Mayor Michael Hart said.

Hart is also a member of the CMVA and helped arrange the dinner for the group.

“It's a great chance for local veterans to meet up with other veterans,” Hart said.

The MPVA's 29 day, 2,500-mile convoy tour is significant to military history. According to the MPVA Convoy Commanding Officer, “World War II caused a marked decline in civilian and tourist traffic but stimulated new business along U.S. 66 when it acted as a military transport corridor moving troops and supplies from one military reservation to another. Motels saw an increase in occupancy, as families of servicemen stationed at military bases stayed for long stretches. But more significantly, Route 66 facilitated perhaps the single greatest wartime mobilization, as thousands of job seekers headed to California, Oregon, and Washington to work in defense plants.”

“I think this is an important event and a wonderful way to support our military, “ Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau of Tourism Coordinator Sherry Spillers said.

Spillers has been working with the MPVA organizers to make arrangements for their stay in Miami.

The MPVA Convoy schedule includes a rest day after every three or four days of travel to allow participants a day to do laundry, maintenance on their vehicles and some sightseeing such as a stop in Branson.

Established in 1976, MPVA has over 10,000 members globally with nearly 100 local affiliated clubs throughout the world. The organization has made previous convoys of cross-country historical tours in past years including retracing the US Army route of 1919, celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Alaska Highway, and retracing the US Army route of 1920.

The MPVA can be tracked in real time at http://www.convoontheair.org/, and more information about the organization can be found at www.mvpa.org or on Facebook at MVPA Convoy.

Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at mstotts@miaminewsrecord.com or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.