Veteran receives surprise halfway across the country

2 months 3 weeks 6 days ago Friday, May 18 2018 May 18, 2018 Friday, May 18, 2018 1:46:00 PM CDT May 18, 2018 in News
By: Olivia Gerling, KOMU 8 Reporter

IBERIA - A California army veteran got the surprise of his life in a small Missouri town more than 1,500 miles away.

Matthew Kuhl is on active duty in North Korea, but took a week off to visit his family in California. He also came to Missouri to pick up a restored Corvette he'd bought online.

He's leaving Missouri with more than just the Corvette.

When Kuhl was 14, he purchased a 1971 Dodge Dart Swinger to restore with his father. The car never got fully restored, but managed to get Kuhl through high school. 

When he joined the military, he decided to have his father sell it.

“I was stuck with a decision to either bring the car to [Naval Air Station] Lemoore and use it as my daily driver, and any time I needed to go out of town I would have to put miles on it,” Kuhl said. “I didn’t want to treat the old ’71 Dart with the original seventy thousand miles on the original engine like that.”

Jim Kuhl, Matthew's father who also lives in California, told his son he sold the car, but instead sent it to Brad and Becca Berg in Missouri.

The Iberia couple restores classic cars.

“Every car has a backstory and touches us just a little bit,” Becca Berg said. “Everybody in their own way.”

The couple and their crew worked for 15 months to restore the classic car in time to surprise Matthew during his visit to Missouri.

Everyone in the Kuhl family knew about the restoration project, except for Matthew.

“He’s really hard to read,” Jim said. “I just can't believe we were able to keep it a secret.”

According to Jim, restoring the car for his son had significance to him as well.

Jim is a retired veteran. When he was overseas, his brother sold a car he was restoring. He said he did not want his son to go through the same devastation he had.

“Cars like this aren't what cars are to normal people, I would say,” Jim said. 

“This is my first car. I did everything in high school in it,” Matthew said. “This is the car that made me.” 

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