What I love most about this unique story is the connection to family and the past. I believe that’s why 1967beetle.com has grown in audience. So many people have a vintage Volkswagen history. We will continue to find these stories and share them with the world.
During the late autumn of 1966, my father, US Air Force Major Charles Jaeger, visited a dealership somewhere near Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina and purchased a brand new Volkswagen Beetle. It was baby blue and magically German. He called it Fritz. Fritz became our family car and safely chauffeured us around the base, through the woods of North Carolina, and along the Eastern seaboard with my sister and me – two toddlers – asleep in the back. Our earliest memories featured Fritz. I remember our favorite children’s book was about a VW Beetle. We insisted it be read to us over and over again. (Unfortunately, the book and title are lost to time.) Another early memory of Fritz was when my two year old sister, overcome with excitement about a trip to the circus, banged her head into the edge of the passenger door as she rushed into the back seat. Tears and blood followed along with a trip to the emergency room. Although the much anticipated evening was cancelled, I got an hour of carnival rides with my dad – a memory I still cherish.
In 1968 as the war in Vietnam heated up, my father received orders to report to Naha Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan. The whole family followed. Fritz was invited too. He took his trip across the Pacific on a cargo ship, but arrived safe and sound a few months later, much to our delight. He took on his usual job with stoic German tenacity, trudging down the dusty island roads through the crowded traffic of Naha, past stinky “benjo” ditches and three-wheeled Japanese trucks. He endured typhoons, a couple of fender dents, and a touch of tropical rust but remained a handsome car. By January 1971 my father had retired from the Air Force. We flew back to the US (along with Kevin, our new baby brother) for a temporary home with my grandparents in New Jersey. Fritz arrived by ship a few months later in good condition but missing his original Sapphire radio, compliments of a sticky-fingered sailor. We were just happy to have him back but Fritz was ready for one more adventure.