Blue Knights for Red Bulls

DCTC Transportation dept. services cars of troops returning home from combat deployments overseas

The Transportation department at Dakota County Technical College in partnership with DCTC Student Life hosted Blue Knights for Red Bulls, a free, one-day vehicle safety inspection clinic to assist active-duty military personnel and their families Friday, Feb. 19, 2010. Forty military personnel took advantage of the clinic, bringing their vehicles to the DCTC Rosemount campus for a 30-point safety inspection that included important maintenance needs such as replacing lights, diagnosing service engines codes and topping off fluids. Students and faculty also washed and detailed all the vehicles.

“We had a wonderful time during the event,” said Gerry Rainford, an instructor in the college’s Auto Body Collision Technology program. “At least 130 students from our various transportation programs plus nine instructors volunteered to help out as a way to say thank you to our troops and their families for their military service.”

The project, which supported the 34th Infantry Red Bulls Division, was Rainford’s idea, but he pointed out that he couldn’t have pulled it off without a ton of help from DCTC Student Life Director Nicole Meulemans, who pitched in and handled a lot of the nuts-and-bolts details of the event. Rainford also wished to thank Katharine Bachman, Veterans Services regional coordinator, and 1st Sgt. Vernon “Bud” Truax (Ret.), a family readiness specialist from the Minnesota National Guard Family Network, for all their help putting together the safety inspection clinic. Several military personnel scheduled their vehicles to undergo more substantial repairs at a later date. That service would include free labor from DCTC automotive tech students.

“Everyone was so appreciative,” Meulemans said. “We are always glad when DCTC can reach out and help the community. What our students and faculty offer is so valuable.”

Rainford is looking ahead to possibly offering the safety inspection clinic again next year, hoping for the opportunity for his department to service even more vehicles.