A 2023 F-150 Lightning II Edition 4×4 Super Crew pickup with the heart of a fighter jet brought in $535,000 toward the Luke Air Force Base Honor Guard Facility fund during the Barret-Jackson auto auction in January.
The Fighter Country edition electric pickup sold for $275,000 and was inspired by the F-35A Lightning II jet.
“Fighter Country Foundation is honored to be one of the five charities in this year’s Barrett-Jackson auction,” said Ron Sites, Fighter Country Foundation President and CEO. “Our outstanding supporters at Sanderson Ford and Barrett-Jackson raised $275,000 for our Honor Guard Training Facility Fund and triggered a matching $250,000 pledge from our friends at IDM Companies.”
Another anonymous donor at the auction gave another $10,000 after hearing of the project.
Barrett-Jackson is accustomed to auctioning off vehicles to support charitable initiatives, helping raise over $149 million for charity to date.
“After being out at Luke Air Force Base and seeing what these men and women do, it is an honor to help them,” said Craig Jackson, CEO and Chairman of Barrett-Jackson. “We’re proud of the legacy we’ve earned as a company known for supporting organizations that help our military veterans. Together with the generous donors and bidders, we’re improving the lives of countless Americans across the country.”
The F-150 pickup auction winner, Lance Mortensen, is no stranger to aviation. A pilot himself, Mortensen said he is thankful to have Luke Air Force Base nearby.
“It’s a wonderful cause, supporting our troops, supporting the Air Force,” Mortensen said. “The F-35 is incredible. I can tell you that the [Airmen] who fly this airplane are absolutely incredibly brave, strong, and the most intelligent guys on the planet. I think we should all support the military and those who support the families after the fact and we should never lose sight of that.”
Although getting the truck to the auction block almost didn’t happen, David Kimmerle, Sanderson Ford CEO, wanted to donate the truck for this charity auction and was determined to make it happen.
“A few months ago, we were thinking about the Barrett-Jackson. I was thinking of the F-35 Lightning II [jet] and here we have a Lightning [F-150] pickup but it’s not available anywhere,” Kimmerle said. “I had ordered one for a customer and he decided not to take it. Problem was they wouldn’t start building it until Dec. 3 and there was no way it’d get from the factory in time for the auction.”
Kimmerle contacted a man he knew at the plant in Dearborn, Mich. Although he was no longer the manager there, he was able to help get it quality checked and transported to Arizona by truck instead of by rail – saving crucial time to get it to the auction stage.
“We only had a couple of weeks to make it in time,” Kimmerle said. “Barrett-Jackson is always so great when it comes to support of the military.”
And it made it – just in time.
“All these people came together to make it happen,” Kimmerle said. “All the things Fighter Country Foundation has done is just amazing and we’re blessed to be a part of it.”
After the auction, Kimmerle said he was elated it all fell into place.
“This is an amazing thing when you look at all the people around that are touched by the military and what they do at Luke Air Force Base and then to see the generosity today. It’s just overwhelming,” Kimmerle said. “Car guys never have a loss for words but I’m there. We appreciate it.”
Kimmerle’s wife, Jill, also expressed gratitude for everyone that came together to help Fighter Country Foundation.
“Thank you ever so much. We appreciate all the help we can give to the families at Luke Air Force Base,” she said.
The donations received so far will help toward the goal of $2 million to build a dedicated Honor Guard Training Facility. It will include an air-conditioned 3,300-square-foot space for training, storage, and administration, and an adjacent covered area for longer detail training and drill.
“We are free because of our military. It’s that simple,” Jackson said.