Pickup rebuild wins Conifer parade, pays tribute to McNabb

image1By Arlene Shovald, Special to The Mail

An old pickup tow truck honoring a fallen Salida warrior recently had the honor of pulling the Best of Parade float in the Conifer Christmas parade.

The story began when Mark and Sandy Fisher of Conifer were driving past the home of Steve and Georgia McNabb in Salida and spotted an old 1955 Chevrolet 3600 Task Force Series pickup parked outside the house. It was obviously not running because every time they went past the house it was in the same place.

“We took a picture of it and our three grandkids were thrilled because to them it looked just like the Disney ‘Cars’ character called Towmaster,” Mark said, “They were enthralled with a real-life Towmaster.”

The next time the Fishers were in Salida they tried to meet the owners and ask if they would sell the truck.

“Unfortunately they weren’t home, so we recorded their address and wrote them a letter explaining how happy their old truck made our grandkids,” Mark said. “About a month later, the McNabbs called us. They were touched that our grandkids fell in love with their broken-down truck and they made us an offer. We were able to buy the truck in April 2013.”

When the Fishers met the McNabbs to pay for the truck, they noticed a small tribute area set up in their home and asked about it. That was when they learned the McNabb’s son Sgt. 1st Class Barett W. McNabb, was killed in action in Afghanistan in June 2012 while on this fourth tour in the Middle East as a combat engineer in the army.

“It was an emotional meeting for all of us,” Mark Fisher said, “We told the McNabbs we would like to bring Towmaster back to running condition and enter him yearly in our local Christmas parade.

“Georgia then asked if we fixed up the truck and it was in a parade if we could make a memorial to be placed on board for their son. They didn’t want his service to our country to be forgotten. I told her I would most certainly do so.
The Fishers loaded Towmaster onto a trailer and took him home to Conifer. Over the next year they slowly began fixing all of his problems, rebuilding the engine and radiator, putting in new brakes, replacing all the leaky seals, replacing all the broken gauges, etc.

“We finally got Towmaster up and running in January of 2015,” Mark said.
Throughout the summer he continued making minor repairs and started driving the truck to work at nearby Staunton State Park.

A few weeks ago, the Fishers fulfilled their promise to the McNabbs when their Towmaster was designated to pull the state park’s float, called “Harvey Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in this year’s Christmas parade. The theme of the parade was “A Hollywood Christmas.”

There were more than 40 entries in the parade,” Mark said. “The park’s float won the Best of Parade trophy. I drove the truck, with the memorial to Sgt. 1st Class Barett McNabb in the parade and noted the joy in so many eyes young and old, as Towmaster proceeded along the 1.5 mile parade route. The Christmas parade was the first opportunity of hopefully many where we will pay tribute to Barett. We personally think he was looking over us.”

Sgt. 1st Class Barett W. McNabb would have been 37 years old on Dec. 23.

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