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The Call of Duty

10/20/2014 | Words: Chuck Mahnken | Pictures: MTU Archive

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From construction sites to rough seas to military operations, Detroit Diesel 2-Cycle engines can be found all over the world going above and beyond. Behind the legendary engines is a team of equally hard-working people. Many employees have been selling and supporting Detroit Diesel 2-Cycle engines for decades, gaining invaluable experience and expertise. They have a few stories of their own to tell.

Tedd Grulke started with Detroit Diesel in 1973. Today, he’s director of sales, governmental land-based, at MTU, and de facto product line manager for 2-Cycle engines. Tedd’s been selling engines and propulsion systems to the land defense industry in North America for over 30 years, garnering many accomplishments along the way. Tedd’s especially proud of the way the Detroit Diesel 2-Cycle team came together to serve the country at the onset of the Gulf War.

When the Gulf War broke out in 1990, the U.S. Army had no time to waste. Tanks and troops needed to infiltrate Saudi Arabia quickly. Equipped with tough Series 92 engines under the hoods, heavy tactical trucks transported 70-ton tanks into battle. But the U.S. Army needed more trucks—and more Detroit Diesel 2-Cycle engines—fast. Building engines for these trucks was a high priority, and there wasn’t enough time to negotiate a contract, which often takes months.

A team of army personnel, including a two-star general, met at Detroit Diesel’s headquarters in Redford, Michigan. At the time, Roger Penske owned the company. While many Series 92 engines had been produced for the military earlier in the year, the line was dedicated to commercial engines. “That day, Roger, being an intensely patriotic guy, made the decision on the spot that we would add an extra day of production that week to the assembly line and build exclusively military engines,” says Grulke.

The project was estimated to be worth more than $1 million. Working on just a handshake, 65 Detroit Diesel 2-Cycle engines were built, tested and delivered to the U.S. military in two weeks. “The army was astounded; they had never heard of such a thing,” says Grulke. “Roger’s position was, ‘You guys need them, we can build them. This is war, we’re going to do it.’”

The Series 92 engines were delivered promptly, and the contract with the U.S. Army was eventually settled, with no extra costs. “Many of our employees on the line were veterans, and many had sons and daughters in harm’s way over there. So extreme amounts of care went into making those engines,” says Grulke. “I said it at the time, and I’ll say it again. Those were the best built 65 engines in the history of the company.”

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