OLYMPIA – When people from Spokane visit the state Capitol, most bring along a camera, or maybe a sandwich.
Russell Dupper brought his cordless screwdriver.
“We’ll see if the State Patrol is paying attention on the way home, with these new plates,” the retired Air Force technical sergeant said, shortly before heading outside to attach his shiny “AF00017” license plate to his Chevy pickup.
Dupper was one of dozens of veterans who crowded into a round room in the statehouse Tuesday to receive the first batch of Washington plates honoring military veterans.
The plates are among 18 new designs, including ones for Gonzaga University, lighthouses, pets and bicyclists. Already, nearly two dozen designs grace bumpers, including plates for state colleges, ham radio operators, square dancers, Freemasons and Seattle Mariners’ fans.
The first Army plate – AR 00001 – went to former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Shalikashvili, who lives in Steilacoom. Mike Gregoire, husband of Gov. Christine Gregoire, got AR 00011.
Spokane Valley’s Walter Sadd, who spent most of World War II on a Navy destroyer, got Navy plate No. 10.
“I flew in from Yuma (Ariz.) for this,” he said, waiting for the ceremony to start. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I’m still 100 percent military.”
The plates are available to any veteran, active duty service member, or military widow or widower. Applicants must sign a form stating that they qualify. Any vehicle licensing office can order them.
The plates cost an extra $40 a year for the first year, then an extra $30 annually. Of that, $28 a year goes to veterans’ programs, like help for homeless vets and a proposed veterans cemetery in Eastern Washington.