El Reno Veteran Wins Nationwide Drawing For Free Car

Thursday, November 12th 2015, 6:51 pm
By: News 9

A Vietnam veteran from El Reno entered a nationwide drawing for a new car and he won.

Andrew Von Werder received the keys to his new car Thursday, at a ceremony at Tinker Air Force Base. He got emotional over how much the treatment of veterans has changed since his time in the service.

Retired Navy Petty Officer First Class Werder is a big man who just won a tiny car.

“I couldn't get my leg in,” Von Werder laughed.

The Vietnam veteran has a laugh as big as his 6’2” stature.

He beat the 1-in-35,000 odds and won a contest for a Welch's Fruit Snacks-branded 2016 Smart Car. The makers of Welch's Fruit Snacks sponsor the annual nationwide raffle drawing for military personnel.

Von Werder is an El Reno native who served in the Navy from 1958 to 1979.

“21 years and I've been around the world on every continent except for Antarctica, two tours in Nam,” Von Werder told News 9.

He was a quartermaster in navigation, making sure the ships traveled safely and keeping the navigational charts up to date.

Von Werder was in the Vietnam War from '69 to '71 and he said he is still haunted by those memories.

“The people that didn't make it back,” he explained.

He said the way service members were treated back then was just as painful to think about.

“We didn't get,” he started to say, then sobbed. “I'm sorry, they didn't treat us very well,” he added, wiping tears from his eyes.

It was a much different time then and the appreciation veterans receive now moves him.

“It's great,” Von Werder said.

Therefore, you can see how a bright pink car meant so much to the 74-year-old war veteran.

“It's definitely psychedelic,” Von Werder joked.

The general manager of the Army and Air Force Exchange at Tinker said every veteran should know how valued they are to Americans.

“We appreciate you and your service so much,” said Brenda Hyland.  “You really are part of our family,” she added.

Von Werder said the only other thing he has ever won in his life was also from the military exchange. It was a $1,000 savings bond.