H-SANTA BARBARA COUNTY

Jun 1, 2012 9:31 PM by Ariel Wesler, KSBY News

SMPD volunteers restore presidential humvee

A humvee used by the secret service to protect president Ronald Reagan during the 1980's when he visited his Santa Barbara County ranch has been restored by police volunteers from Santa Maria.

The vehicle was returned to the former "Western White House" ranch in a motorcade Friday morning from Santa Maria.

A barbecue was held at the Reagan Ranch to thank the volunteers and to put the vehicle back on display.

That humvee was stationed at Reagan's ranch from 1986 to 1991. Regardless of your political affiliation, bringing a piece of presidential history to your own backyard is quite the accomplishment.

Three months ago, this presidential humvee was simply a shell of its former self.

"There was nothing on it that was usable other than the body and the frame, so this was a ground up restoration," said Santa Maria Police Chief Danny Macagni, who led the restoration effort.

A chance to bring the beat up humvee back to its former glory--the armored vehicle was used to protect the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan.

"This roll bar platform was for the secret service agents to stand on when they deployed around the ranch," Macagni explained.

"Anytime he went out chopping or riding wood, this came with him," said John Barletta

He was one of those agents on patrol at Reagan's ranch in the Santa Ynez mountains.

"A lot of places, the agents couldn't follow us until we got this. So, this thing had access to just about anything or it would make its own road," Barletta said.

Following its secret service detail, the Navy had used the vehicle as an amphibious vehicle for several years.

"When we took on this project, we told them it would take at least four months because we're doing it only on the weekends," Macagni said.

But his 16 volunteer finished a month early while leaving their mark every step of the way.

"We also for historical purposes, documented everything we did to a day-by-day, part-by-part that we put on it," Macagni said.

A polished piece of the presidency fully operational and back home.

This is for hundreds of years in the future. It's just amazing that it worked out the way it did and we got it back the way we got it in 1986," Barletta said.

We were told President Reagan stopped going to the ranch after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and it was sold to the conservative Young American Foundation.

Macagni and his volunteers have built 17 humvees for various law enforcement agencies across California.

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