From his mobile stage in the back of a truck, retired Sgt. Maj. John Justis could see the hundreds of people in search of a deal Saturday at the Fort Hood non-appropriated funds vehicle auction.
Justis served as auctioneer for the semi-annual event, held at Yard 36, the abandoned vehicle yard, at Clarke Road and LZ Phantom Lane.
“I try to be as fair as possible,” Justis said, knowing people were upset their bids were not heard over the large crowd.
Throughout the morning, Justis regularly reminded the bidders to move up and speak up if they wanted to bid on an item.
Saturday’s auction included 45 vehicles, four travel trailers, two boats, a riding lawn mower and various other vehicular equipment, all of which had been tagged by Fort Hood’s Directorate of Emergency Services as abandoned. Mark Wilson, manager of Sprocket Auto Crafts and organizer of the auction, said when something has been identified as abandoned, they look for the vehicle owner. When vehicles remain unclaimed, they are eventually sold in the auction. The process takes anywhere from a year to 18 months after abandonment to be deemed auctionable.
“The owners are given every opportunity to come claim these vehicles and pay the slight fees on them,” Wilson said.
A lot of the vehicles auctioned off are sold to flippers. Just like a house flipper, the vehicles are bought, repaired and sold for a profit. Vehicles in severe disrepair are normally purchased by salvagers, who buy low and then sell the vehicle to a scrap metal recycling center for a profit.
Copperas Cove resident Arthur Perez left the auction with one of the best deals. He paid $150 for a 1988 Skyline Layton travel trailer.
“I wasn’t expecting it to go anywhere near that,” Copperas Cove resident Arthur Perez said. “This was totally a surprise.”
As the winning bidder, Perez said he was expecting the camper to be sold in the thousands, but he just “took a chance” by bidding low.
Proceeds from the auction support the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare & Recreation Department activities on the installation.
“It went fairly well. We had a good number of vehicles sell for some decent prices,” Wilson said. “It will go a long way to help the budget.”
The next auction is expected for April 2020. Information regarding the next auction will be listed in a few months at the Fort Hood DFMWR website, hood.armymwr.com.