New Castle soldier has miles to go before he Jeeps |

New Castle soldier has miles to go before he Jeeps

John GardnerPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kara K. Pearson Post Independent

RIFLE Trent Tharp has always wanted a Jeep. His powerhouse smile, a reaction to a spanking-new tan soft top on his 1977 CJ-5, was a dead giveaway.My father had one when I was little and my father-in-law has one, Tharp said. Yeah, I guess Ive always wanted one.That day finally came in 2000 when he purchased a Jeep of his own. Its forest green with its exterior battered and bruised, rust in areas, and has seen many a trip up rocky terrain. Its seen its share of high-country battles. Its also made Trent smile too many times to count.But this smile came not only at the wheels of his Jeep, but at the helping hand of the community that holds his childhood memories.Just before noon Friday, Trent, a New Castle native, arrived at CODE 4X4 in Rifle, accompanied by his wife Bethany and three of his five sons Kobe, 13; Breccen, 7; and 1-year-old Grayson. It was then that he saw his Jeep for the first time in nearly a year because hes been serving in Iraq. Tharp is a staff sergeant in the Army and has made two trips to Iraq, the first time for one year, the second time for 15 months. But now hes back home in New Castle with his family, and hes got his Jeep back, fresh with several repairs.Berthod Motors in Glenwood did a lot of the mechanical repairs to it, said Chris Overacker of CODE 4X4. We just put a new top on it for him. The old one was just shredded and it wasnt in good shape.Trent was already smiling as he approached the Jeep. The repairs were sort of a surprise to him from his wife and Bob Johnson with Operation Vacation.Since August 2005, Operation Vacation has been bringing soldiers and their families to the area from Fort Carson in Colorado Springs for a weekend vacation in the mountains.We want to do things for the local families too, Johnson said. They didnt want to go on a vacation and (Bethany) thought it would be nice to do something just for Trent, so we thought this was a good thing to do.Bethany sent Trent 4X4 magazines and would have him check off the things he wanted for his Jeep. A new exhaust, new top, things like that. She sent the information to Johnson. The Jeep was transported to Berthod Motors in November and all Bethany told Trent was that she had ordered a new top for it and it was taking some time to arrive.In all, Berthod Motors, CODE 4X4 and Valley Towing donated close to $5,000 worth of repairs, parts and services, according to Johnson. All to make this Jeep run and look better. And with the new top it should stay a little warmer in the winter, too.He always sacrifices for his family and this is something that he wouldnt do for himself, Bethany said. Hes wanted to fix things on this Jeep for a long time and something else always came up, so we thought this would be a good thing to do just for him.But the Jeep is fun for the whole family, according to Trent. Its one thing we really enjoy, he said. We really enjoy just getting up into the mountains and playing around.However, that is going to change a little bit as well. The Tharp family is moving to South Carolina, where Trent will be stationed at Fort Jackson for the next three years. But with his newly improved Jeep, hes looking forward to the new terrain.I enjoy getting into the mountains with it, but now I will have to drive it on the beach, Trent said with another smile. This is just amazing.Its a pretty good going-away gift from the community who shaped him as a young man.I grew up here and graduated from Rifle High School, Trent said. This makes it all worth it. Its just amazing that the community would come together to do this for me. This makes what I do worth it.And thats what Operation Vacation is all about. Even if it doesnt provide a vacation, it recognizes service in the armed forces by our soldiers, local or otherwise.Contact John Gardner: 384-9114jgardner@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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