In 2001 the United States began the war in Afghanistan as a response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, resulting in the longest military wars and engagements continually fought by our Armed Forces. This battle has already produced the largest population of active service men and women and veterans ever throughout the United States’ 238-year history.
With a population of over 21 million veterans, many returning home from foreign soils have difficulty reassembling into civilian life. Because the transition can be difficult, numerous veteran interest groups have arisen to help veterans with the transition. A few of these organizations include the American Legion, the American Red Cross, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, and others. Many of these active military servicemen and women and veterans turn to their diesels and find a familiar comfort working with and modifying their diesels because once you’ve felt the power, everything else is mundane.
Nothing compares to the sensation of an M1 Abrams battle tank, an HMMWV—also known as the Humvee, the F-22 Raptor, or a Nimitz supercarrier underneath your control, and afterward … afterward it’s impossible to return home and putt around in a smug Prius. Because once you’ve tasted the POWER, the mantra of harder, better, faster, stronger is burned into your soul, searing your blood. The horsepower drives the passion, torque pivots into an obsession, and RPM turns into the measure of a quality diesel over something store brand, stock and bland.
Our veteran and active service members have felt the power of military vehicles and equipment. They know the joy and enthusiasm that accompanies quality vehicles and share our passion for moding and upgrading their basic diesels into more.
At Diesel Tech we are proud of our nation and we respect and thank the men and women for their service. We understand their sacrifices and this July we pay tribute to their service, their time and the energy they have devoted to our nation and their diesels.
Staff Sergeant David Dalton
The 2006 Dodge Ram, affectionately named Sandra, is the lovechild of Staff Sergeant David Dalton, a C-130 crew chief, currently deployed in South Korea. This beast’s mod list is impressive, even by our standards: a custom race transmission by Anarchy Diesel and numerous Motorsport additions and modifications, to rattle off just a few.
“I've always been a grease monkey and knuckle dragger, and enjoy making more out of something,” says David. “This was my first diesel and it took two years to find this one. It's my daily driver, my toy and my workhorse.”
The Cummins truck received her first modification not long after he geared his build toward improving mileage and longevity of the truck. Working together with his good friends Austin Dischert and Jody Penney, David has installed most of the upgrades to his Dodge. Living close to Anarchy Diesel, David chose them to supply Sandra’s race transmission and EFILive tuning; otherwise David, Austin and Jody have “turned every wrench on this truck on many long nights and weekends.”After two years of searching, David bought Sandra in December 2010. At the time she had rolled 85,000 miles and with his numerous overseas deployments Sandra now rests at a comfortable 135,000.
All of his work and dedication has paid off with a significant boost to the performance of his truck, boasting a powerful 707hp and 1462 ft/lbs. of torque.
With eight years in the Air Force, David is often overseas, which has enabled him to save his money and invest into upgrading his build. David is proud that his truck is completely paid for through his hard work, dedication, and is not sponsored by any local shops or manufacturers. In fact, David enjoys every aspect of his Dodge, keeping a detailed log of every modification and repair, often reviewing and reminiscing about his truck.
David enlisted in the Air Force in May 2006, after serving four years as a Firefighter EMT in Knoxville, Tenn. Before his latest deployment, David married his wife, Noor—a veteran who served four years in the United States Army, in June of 2013. Deployed to Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq, David was previously stationed out of Little Rock Air Force Base, and as a Dedicated Crew Chief, traveled all over the United States experiencing the richness and grandeur of our nation. Upon returning home in the fall of 2014, David will be assigned to the Air Force Special Operations Command in England.
Looking to the future, David plans to upgrade to 20-inch wheels, larger injection dual CP3s, a Laramie front bumper conversion, a sport rear bumper and premium leather seats.
Aviation Machinist Mate 2nd Class Shawn Reardon
Shawn Reardon—an Aviation Warfare Specialist—purchased his 2004 Ford F250 in 2011 while deployed overseas.
“My Special Edition 2004 Ford F250 was purchased without me ever looking at it,” says Shawn. “Featuring the special 2004 paint job, this truck is a member of the Georgia Power Stroke Diesel Association and the Coastal Georgia Power Stroke Diesel Association, and placed in the Top 25 of the American Legion Riders Post 258 Annual Car, Bike and Truck Show.”
As an aviation mechanic, Shawn understands the importance of proactive and preventative maintenance in the total care and protection of his truck, which prompted his first modification: the installation of an Edge CTS and Expandable EGT and a needed update to the coolant system. While serving in the Armed Forces, Shawn also painted military components, and this expertise inspired one of his favorite flourishes of his F250: his custom paint job of the engine.
Shawn is a third-generation service member of the Armed Forces. His father, who was in Desert Storm, and his grandfather both served, and Shawn is proud to be a part of his family’s military tradition. Enlisting in the Navy in 2009, Shawn served four years, and after an honorable discharge, he enrolled in college. Recently, Shawn completed 47 credits in Diesel Technology. While working on his diesel technology degree, Shawn interned under a Ford master mechanic and now aspires to work with Power Stroke engines. Shawn continues his education, specializing in mechanical engineering.
When asked about his military experience, Shawn reflected that he enjoyed the mutual respect individual members of the military share for one another, especially following through and completing tasks and responsibilities. Transition to civilian life has been somewhat difficult, lacking the structure and the discipline engrained through his years of hard work and military service. Currently, Shawn enjoys attending college and looking for new ways to expand his personal and professional horizons as well as that of his F250. Looking forward, Shawn next plans to upgrade the injectors and add a turbo and a lift.
Spec Ops Sergeant Chip Whittamore
Chip Whittamore served in the United States Army, enlisting in 2000 and medically retiring in 2006. Chip’s drive to be the best advanced his career in the military where he joined the 1/75th Ranger Regiment. Chip joined in 2000, before the events of 9/11, and afterward was deployed to Iraq once and Afghanistan three times. Thinking back on his service, Chip is proud that he and his unit worked closely with a SEAL Team in the rescue of the first woman prisoner of war, and the first rescue of a prisoner of war since the Vietnam War, Jessica Lynch.
While in the line of active duty, Chip received a head wound, which has made learning about the intricacies of his truck both difficult and, in his words, entertaining. Chip suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and learning about and working on his truck has been a vital part of his recovery. Upgrading his diesel, working with mechanics and other veterans has become therapeutic for him and his readjustment into civilian life and activities.
Currently, Chip works as a contractor overseas and enjoys modifying and upgrading his ’06 Dodge Ram 2500. The first high performance upgrade to his diesel was an ATS 48RE Stage 6 Transmission, and since then, Chip has added several modifications to his truck. The full list of modifications includes an ATS Aurora 5000 Compound Turbos, ATS Twin Fueler Pump Kit, Dynomite Diesel Custom 150hp Injectors, AirDog 150 Lift Pump, ATS Co-Pilot Transmission Controller, ARP 425 Head Studs, EFILive tuning with CSP5 Switch Pro-Comp Traction Bars and a Banks Exhaust. When testing the performance of his diesel, the dyno clocked him at 860hp and 1543 ft/lbs. torque.
Chip has not finished working on his diesel and he’s looking forward to adding a Detroit Locker differential for the rear axle, a new Ram Air Hood and a 5-inch Flo-Pro Exhaust. Chip enjoys drag racing his truck and is proud to mention that it will be on display in future truck shows.
Staff Sergeant Nathanael Snyder
Staff Sergeant Nathanael Snyder, Platoon Sergeant in the United States Army, enlisted in the Armed Forces in July of 2003 and served for over 10 years and only recently retired. Throughout his military career, Nathanael was deployed to Iraq three different times, once in 2006, next in late 2007 to 2009, and his last in 2010 to 2011. Nathanael, like so many other veterans, joined because of family tradition. His father served during Operation Desert Storm, one grandfather served in World War II, his other grandfather served in Korea, and two of his uncles served in Vietnam.
Nathanael was raised on a farm in Indiana and has a deep appreciation for farm diesel vehicles. Nathanael owned his first diesel truck when he was 18 and it was part of the local Open Call Truck Pull events. Nathanael purchased his current truck, which was completely stock at the time, during mid-tour leave in 2011 and he joined diesel racing with other soldiers while stationed in Fort Hood, Texas.
Through racing his truck, Nathanael has become close friends with Zach Gadwaw, an active serviceman of the Untied States Army. Throughout the years they have raced each other competitively and have developed a friendship through their love of diesel drag racing and their shared experiences in the Armed Forces.
Nathanael’s 2005 Dodge Ram 2005 with a 5.9L Cummins is a monster of a truck. On the dyno it turns out 600hp with 1100 ft/lbs. of torque. Nathanael drag races his diesel in Bracket NADM and NHRDA in St. Louis, Mo., and has clocked some impressive times, including his all-time fastest of 12.82 seconds in the quarter-mile. Nathanael’s modifications to his truck include a built 48re Sun Coast transmission, Beans Diesel Fuel Sump, a BD exhaust manifold and BD intake elbow, a 5.9L 24v CTD S&B Air Intake, Sinister Coolant Filtration Kit, 150hp Premco Injectors, BD Diesel Super B Turbo and a FASS fuel management system.
Other modifications include a Smarty SSR UDC Tuner, Pro-Comp wheels, Pro-Comp leveling kit, Fab Fours black steel front and rear bumpers, Recon Cab lights 33-inch Fierce Attitude M/Ts, Mag-Hytec diff covers, Bushwacker fender flares, 5inch exhaust into 8in stack, ISSPRO pillar gauges and Halo Head lights. Nathanael looks forward to racing in professional and sponsored competitive drag racing in the near future.
Sergeant Promotable Zach Gadwaw
Zach Gadwaw, Stryker Systems Maintainer, is a mechanic in the United States Army. Having completed one deployment to Iraq, Zach is currently preparing to deploy to Afghanistan in the upcoming months. After completing his career in the military, Zach desires to open his own diesel shop and work hands-on upgrading and modifying drag trucks.
Zach is serious about his 2006 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD LT. With 59K miles rolled on the odometer, this truck is built for power and to drag in the NHRDA. On the dyno his Silverado is pushing 723hp with an impressive 1152 ft/lbs. of torque. Discussing friend Nathanael Snyder, Zach sys the two are “frenemies,” which roughly translates that they’re competitors on the track, but friends everywhere else. Comparing their trucks, Zach mentions that Nathanael’s truck is more aerodynamic, but his truck pumps out more raw power on the track.
As a diesel mechanic, Zach takes personal pride in the work he has put into his truck. The impressive list of engine modifications starts with a 6.6L LBZ Duramax, Stage 2 aFe cold air intake, Stage 2 Powermax Garret Turbo from Industrial Injection, 3-inch MBRP downpipe, custom exhaust with 6-inch RBP tip, PPE Fuel Race Valve, rebuilt studded heads, EFILive tuning with Edge CTS for gauges and Mitshimoto 3-inch intercooler piping upgrade kit with boots, plus10 percent injector nozzles round out the completed engine upgrades needed to push the horsepower of his drag truck.
The transmission is a 6-speed Allison with Alli-locker. Miscellaneous other modifications include 4:23 gears, a Fabtech lift kit, Heim Joint tie rods, 37-inch Interco M16s on XD rims, traction bars from Longhorn Fab shop, McNeil racing Baha fenders, Halo HIDs and a Ranch Hand rear bumper replacement.
Sergeant E5 Roman Brittenham
Roman Brittenham joined the United States Army in 1989, following in the footsteps of his stepfather, and became part of the Military Police. While serving in the MP, Roman was deployed during Operation Desert Storm and to Bosnia twice. Reflecting upon his time in the service Roman says he misses the camaraderie of the Armed Services and still keeps in touch with his military friends and family.
Unlike most Vets, Roman was frank about suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He recognizes that he is still under the effects of being in combat situations and has discovered that working on his 2011 Ram is both relaxing and therapeutic.
Roman’s 2011 Dodge Ram 3500 has a fair number of internal and external modifications and with the upgrades to his engine, his Ram is pushing 575hp. The list contains 10-inch Full Throttle Suspension Long Arm kit that was powder coated candy blue to match the truck, 24 by 12 American Force Wheels Vector Faceplate Wheels, 40-inch Toyo Tires MTs, AMP Research Power Steps, Bushwacker pocket flares painted to match the truck, H&S Performance Mini Max, aFe Power CAI and a Flo-Pro Performance 4-inch Turbo Back Exhaust. The truck is far from complete, however, with future plans including replacing all of the lighting, adding RECON Halo LED, and working with Royalty Core Grilles to manufacture a custom grille. Afterward he plans to upgrade and reupholster the interior.
Sergeant Logan Lake
Sergeant Logan Lake, 63B All Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic, has served eight years in the United States Army, with four years of active duty and four years in the Arizona National Guard. Currently stationed in Arizona, Logan has been deployed overseas to Korea, Iraq, and has worked in Afghanistan as a government contractor. Logan uses his truck for everything, from being his daily driver, towing, off-roading and more.
Logan’s 2007 Dodge Ram 2500 5.9L is a work in progress. Logan has yet to test his machine on the dyno for a complete readout of the power and performance of his truck, but he is aware that with all of his modifications that injectors and a turbo upgrade are next.
Currently, Logan’s Cummins is sitting on a CFM intake manifold, Banks cold air intake, Banks monster exhaust, Edge CTS with juice with hot unlock code, BD Power wastegate, BD sway bar end links, steering stabilizer cross member, CalTracs front differential armor cover, 4-inch suspension kit from BDS with Fox Shocks, Bilstein stabilizer shock absorber, PPE deep trans pan and a Mag-Hytec rear differential cover. Logan has rebuilt the transmission with a Sun Coast stage 2 kit, Precision Industries Triple Torque Converter, BD flex plate, BD valve body, AMSOIL synthetic in everything, a FASS 150gph fuel pump, PPE boost gauge, Bushwacker fender flares, and the entire truck is resting on Toyo 35 inch M/T tires on 20-inch wheels. Final exterior aesthetics include smoked LED tail lights and third brake light for dominance.
In addition to the injectors and turbo, Logan is considering adding a dual cp3 pump, exhaust manifold and a new charge air cooler. Currently ready to install on his diesel are ARP head studs and CalTracs rear traction bar.
Diesel Tech’s Salute
At Diesel Tech it has been our honor to converse with numerous men and women of our Armed Forces. We understand that it is through great dedication and sacrifice that all active duty service men and women and veterans, past and future, living and dead, have made our nation great.
No other career requires the commitment that serving our nation does. As we near the completion of the longest war our nation has even waged, we remember the price that has been paid with blood, sweat, tears, and most importantly, lives. And while we find common ground in our love and appreciation of performance and customized trucks, we realize that we literally owe everything that we have including every opportunity that has been presented to us, to the work of our military and those who serve therein.
We thank our readership, our veterans, and those currently serving in the Armed Forces for everything that they have done and continue to do.