Home C3 Corvette News Vietnam Veteran Celebrates 50 Years of Ownership With His 1970 Corvette

Vietnam Veteran Celebrates 50 Years of Ownership With His 1970 Corvette

by Bradan Donaldson
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Rick Branstetter stands next to his 1970 Corvette Stingray on Jan. 5 outside his home in Jefferson City. Photo by India Garrish / News Tribune.

These are the kind of Corvette stories we love reporting on!

Rick Branstetter of Jefferson City, Missouri was a pilot training at the Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio before leaving for Vietnam.  One night he was walking past the Officer’s Club when a silver 1969 Corvette sitting under the street lights caught his eye.

“It was nighttime, so it caught all the lights of the buildings,” he recalled. “I looked at it and went, ‘That’s what I want.'”

When he was stationed in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), during the Vietnam War, he vowed to himself that if he made it out of Vietnam, he would reward himself with a brand new Corvette.

While in Pleiku, Vietnam, he met a guy selling cars for General Motors.  The guy told him that if he ordered one, it would be ready for him when he returned to the United States.  Rick wrote a check for $4,986 and picked up his 1970 Corvette in St. Louis two months later.

For the first few years, the 1970 Corvette served as his primary transportation.

Love At First Sight

As that 1969 Corvette turned into love at first sight that night back in San Antonio, his 1970 Corvette helped him develop another love at first sight when he met the woman who would become his wife, Betsy.

“I courted you with that car. You fell in love with the guy with the Corvette,” Rick said.

“No, I fell in love with your smile,” Betsy replied.

“Through the windshield,” Rick joked.

Betsy was 24 years old when she first met Rick at a local basketball game.  Back then, she recalls that it was cool to have a Corvette and she thought Rick was the cutest guy she’d seen.

After having a couple kids and the need to buy a bigger car with four seats to accommodate the whole family, the Corvette’s role as a daily driver turned to one of inspiration.

When Rick was younger, he taught Sunday School at his local Presbyterian church and would eventually become a facilitator for the Council of Drug Free Youth where he’s mentored for the last 25 years.  Whether it was just a ride to the local store or to transport someone in style to a prom, his 1970 Corvette has not only played an important role in his life, but the lives of the young folks he’s mentored.

Today, his Corvette serves as a joyful ride with his grandchildren or the occasional mentoree who needs a quick ride home from school.

When asked if he’d ever consider selling the Stingray and how much, his usual response is “$75,000”.  The conversation usually comes to an end quickly, and Rick is perfectly okay with that!

Source:  News Tribune

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