Wife surprises husband returning from Afghanistan with SUV makeover

Published: Saturday, March 9 2013 11:23 p.m. MST

Staff Sgt. Ben Sorensen, with the 19th Special Forces, is all smiles behind the wheel of his beloved vehicle "The Blaze." He came home from Afghanistan Wednesday, March 6, 2013, to find that with the help of his wife and two businesses his vehicle is now safe to drive.

Mike Anderson, Deseret News

LAYTON — Staff Sgt. Ben Sorensen, with the Army National Guard 19th Special Forces support unit out of Camp Williams, loves to surprise his wife Brittany. But this past week, it was his wife who had a major surprise for him.

“I’ve never been able to get him this good,” she said.

She launched a plot to surprise her husband with a drivable vehicle by sending an email to AutoPartsWarehouse.com with a plea to help get his 1987 Chevy Blazer ready for his return home from a deployment in Afghanistan.  

Rather than simply help fix up the Blazer, the people at AutoPartsWarehouse.com, an online auto parts and accessories retailer, gave it a complete overhaul.

Sorensen was indeed surprised when he saw his vehicle, nicknamed “The Blaze,” with a complete makeover.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” he said. “I didn’t expect it. It’s pretty weird for me though, because I’m a pretty private person.”

The 1987 K-5 Blazer was something he had wanted since he was young, he said. He purchased the vehicle three years ago with the goal of fixing it up. But with little time between deployments, including back-to-back yearlong deployments, it made his dream impossible to realize.

"It was in pretty rough shape," he said. "I like it. It's an '87 K-5 Blazer. I think it's cool."

"He’s got an '87 Blazer with 200,000 plus miles on it, tons of problems, not driving correctly, not steering correctly," said Brian Hafer of AutoPartsWarehouse.com. “We basically had the vehicle completely overhauled. We just felt it’s the least that we could do.”

They supplied the parts and Dave's Complete Auto Service in Layton donated the labor.

"Before, there were oil leaks all over the place, and (it) made all sorts of noise when you started the engine up," said mechanic Brian Hanni, who put in hours of work on the car for free.

"Makes me feel good inside that I can be able to help out our servicemen," he said.

All this was done to help Soresen do something special for her husband. “He is always surprising me, always doing all these awesome little things for me, and I can never give him back,” she said. "I can finally have this opportunity to give back.”

She admits she isn't a huge fan of her husband's vehicle, but she knows how much he likes it.

"It's an old Blazer, what's a girl to like about that?" she said. "It's noisy, it rattles. It's not very comfortable to ride in."

But the important thing for her is that it makes her husband happy.

"I just like it. They're beasts. They can go anywhere, they can take a lot of pounding," he said.

And it will take many more now that it's finally safe enough to pass inspection. For one of its first trips, he plans to take The Blaze up the mountain so he can go snowboarding.

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc 

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