A World War I American Field Service (AFS) reconstructed ambulance was featured in President Barack H. Obama’s second inaugural parade on January 21, 2013 in Washington, D.C. The owner of the ambulance, George King III, was one of 63 successful applicants selected out of 2,807 entries to participate in the parade. King, who lives in Norwich, was the only successful applicant from Connecticut. King rode alone in the two-seat ambulance while his wife, daughter, son-in-law, and four grandchildren watched from bleachers provided by the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Though King has participated in four other presidential inaugurations prior to 2013, he notes that this was his “most memorable.”
King is the founder of the Ambulance 255 Project, intended to inspire volunteerism in the United States. He is a professional rebuilder of Model T Fords, the same type of Ford vehicles that were widely used by AFS in World War I. King chose to reconstruct this particular AFS ambulance using an original AFS ambulance chassis that would have entered service in May 1916, the same time as the AFS ambulance numbered “255.” Using archival records and documents, including those in the AFS Archives, King was able to follow standards and specifications used for ambulances of the time. To learn more about the original ambulance, read the February 2013 Item of the Month description here.