LOTUS (CBS13) — An ambulance used to transport the dying or wounded during the Vietnam War is now in the driveway of an Air Force medic who drove it so many years ago.

The ambulance traveled a half a world away, from Vietnam to Lotus, California—a 7,600-mile trek.

Air Force Sgt. and medic Rob Hughes drove the ambulance in 1967 during the Vietnam War. He found it for sale on the Internet.

From battleground to backroads, the 1967 Kaiser K725 military ambulance once saved countless lives in the Vietnam War, and it still runs. For the man behind the wheel, never in his wildest dreams did he ever think he’d see it again.

Hughes says he was asked to drive an ambulance to help deliver a group of wounded soldiers. Fast-forward 30 years, and stumbled across a military ambulance in Kansas City for sale. Hughes called and started telling the person on the other end of the phone how much it looked like the one he drove in Vietnam.

The avid car lover even remembered the last three digits of the ambulance’s serial number.

“3-9-6. It was easy,” he said.

It was a match, and $3,000 later, it arrived at his home in Lotus.

Records say after the war, the ambulance was shipped back to the United States and spent years with the Arkansas National Guard, and as a mobile radio truck with civil defense in Texas. Eventually it was auctioned off to the Kansas City VFW Post that Hughes bought it from.

It’s a rare piece of history that now has a new purpose.

“It can fundraise for veterans, fundraise for local programs that help the military,” he said. “That’s what it’s going to do now. It’s paying it forward.”

Hughes is now part of an effort to try and get organizations like Wounded Warriors or American Legion to recognized, or give post status to military vehicles like his ambulance, because he says they are veterans, too.

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