In January of 1959 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the De La Boca Volunteer Fire Department, located in Buenos Aires, Argentina, four of the Department’s Firemen (Bomberos) set out on an extraordinary journey with their 1925 Brockway fire truck to Cortland, New York. The reason for the amazing seventeen-thousand-mile trek to the Brockway Truck Company located in Upstate New York was to trade in “El Viego (The Old Man)” in on a new Brockway truck after the arduous fifteen-month long road trip.
The truck and the four crew members Albert Bonillo, Pedro Centrone, Felix Dimango and Leonardo Antico suffered through three broken axles, multiple burned out clutch and brake linings, and other breakdowns along the way on the grand adventure.
When finally entering the US at the Texas border on April 15, 1960, the story was picked up by the news media and the nation followed their drive until their arrival in Cortland on May 7, 1960. At that point it was reported that the truck was only capable of traveling at five mph.
After sprucing up “El Viego” at the Brockway Factory the crew members and the machine were treated to a hero’s welcome. City residents, Firemen, and the Brockway Motor Company organized an immense parade and celebration that included a large number other fire departments that traveled many miles to attend.
Brockway accepted “El Viego” in a straight across trade for a new 1960 truck and shipped it by boat to Buenos Aires, and the crew was treated to a flight back home. The vehicle remained with the Company until it closed in 1977. The Cortland Fire Department now owns the truck which is on display at the Central New York Living History Center in Courtland, New York in the Brockway Truck Museum.
The photographs are courtesy of the New York Heritage Digital Collections.