Military vet reunites with ‘old friend’ more than 70 years later

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – More than 70 years later an Albuquerque World War II Veteran met up with an old friend; one he never thought he’d see again.

Tom Grasser, 91, is a volunteer in Old Town. He helps others find a good meal or some shopping deals in Albuquerque. But he’s been helping others since 1943, although he’s too humble to admit it.

Grasser deployed to Europe in 1943 as a medic, and spent nearly two years living out of an ambulance. The last thing he remembers about it, is the moment he left it.

“We parked it in a field and that was 71 years ago,” Grasser said. “The name was Dipsy Doodle.”

Then, two months ago, a friend told Grasser about an ambulance at the New Mexico Museum of Military History.

“He said, ‘you used to drive an ambulance right Tom?’” Grasser said. “There’s this old ambulance in the garage and I go walk around to look at the bumper.”

More than 70 years later and thousands of miles away, Grasser was reunited with an old friend.

“He was naming things about it before we even took him back there to see it,” Randall Wahlert said.

Grasser knew about the driver-side window having a defect, and the name on the door that was no longer there. But if there was any accuracy it was the three numbers on the bumper.

“He explained that he drove an ambulance for Paton the third army, the 593 medical, ambulance number 14,” Wahlert said.

Wahlert said the ambulance was donated to the museum by another veteran.

“Our goal is to restore old equipment and get it back to operational,” Wahlert said. “We want to let people, like Tom, to see the display for themselves.”

But Grasser is going to be able to do more than just see the ambulance after it’s done. He’s going to be able to drive it.

“They got a few things they got to do to it,” Grasser said. “I said, ‘You know you may need to teach me how to double clutch.’”

The museum is also having the name ‘Dipsy Doodle’ painted back on the door.

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