In April of 2004 the Adjutant General asked if the Restoration Unit could possibly salvage enough parts from the discarded remains of two “Mechanical Mules” left on Jackson Barracks to assemble another MULE. The original plan was to make it fully operational and send it to Camp Beauregard. Chapman Holbrook and his crew began hauling whatever parts they could salvage to the shop and the project was well underway when Katrina hit. After the storm MULE I had to be completely restored before MULE II could be tackled again. The third MULE was used for parts to re-build MULE I and MULE II.
The Military Mule was developed by Willys in the 1950s as a cargo carrier able to carry troops, weapons and equipment up to 1,000 lbs. It is basically a ½ ton vehicle with a 48 x 95” platform on two axles. The MULE has a shaft-driven four wheel drive system which allows the machine to continue moving as long as any wheel has traction. A two speed transfer case and a transmission with three forward and one reverse speed gives it six forward speeds and two reverse. The first models were driven by the troublesome Willys 4 cylinder, air cooled gasoline engine. Later models such as this one were equipped with Continental Hercule’s air cooled 2 cylinder horizontally opposed 4 cycle engine which proved to be an outstanding performer. Supplied with just enough power to keep pace with foot soldiers, MULEs topped out at 25 mph and the only shock absorption were the low pressure tires. It was a sturdy and durable workhorse able to travel over all sorts of terrain and served its purpose well through its lifetime until it was retired in the 1980s.