Soldier returns to find classic car restored - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Soldier returns to find classic car restored

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SPOKANE, Wash. - As members of the 81st Heavy Brigade Combat Team began returning to the Northwest this week, many of them came home to homemade signs from loved ones. Chad Bennet came home to all of that, plus a newly restored 1966 Chevy Malibu be bought at an auction more than a decade ago.

Bennet worked on the car for years before being deployed to Iraq with the Washington National Guard last year.

"Sadly, I left it in the garage," he said.  "I left it stored, not running and it just killed me."

It killed his friends, too.

One of them volunteered to rebuild the rig while Chad was serving his country as a medic, the second of two tours to the Middle East. Chad also served as an active duty member in 1991 during the first Gulf War.

Chad's friends and family spent weeks re-wiring and re-building the 66 Chevy, then surprised him when his deployment ended.

"Extremely surprised, honestly," Chad said. "I fully expected to go home and get the cover off, pull all the boxes out from around the garage on it and it be a project that maybe I didn't even finish this summer. I didn't even expect to be driving it this year."

It was a reunion that almost didn't happen.

Chad's friends finished the car Thursday night but didn't realize until Friday morning that the car needed gas.

They didn't have a key to the locked gas cap.

His friends drilled out the cap and installed a new cap before re-fueling the car.

They drove it to the air base and parked just minutes before Chad left the hangar.

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