Dells Army Ducks

By: Erica Dao
By: Erica Dao

The Dells Army Ducks aren’t the kind the quack. Rolling off the assembly line between 1941 and 1944, the amphibious vehicle served an important role in World War II.
"Ducks were developed specifically for World War II to hit the beaches of Normandy, to get troops and the colonel from ship to shore,” said Jason Field, general manager of Dells Army Ducks Incorporated.
Now Dells Army Ducks Incorporated in Wisconsin Dells uses the vehicles to give tours to visitors. This year is their 60th Anniversary.
"The ducks were brought to Wisconsin dells for their first maiden voyage in 1946 by Mel Flath. Mr. Flath turned one duck into 65 ducks.”
The official name for the water and land vehicles is D-U-K-W, and acronym created by the U.S. government and later nicknamed ducks by soldiers who rode on the vehicle because they were sitting ducks to the enemy.
"D standing for first day of production, U for utility vehicle, K for all wheel drive and W for twin rear axels.”
The last duck was produced in 1944. A total of 21,000 were produced with about half going overseas and the others staying in the U.S., which weren't used in the war.
"We're continuously bringing the vehicles in and out of the shop, working on the break systems, you name it; to keep the vehicles up and running.”
This weekend, the ducks made their first appearance in Black River Falls for the Karner Blue Butterfly Festival.
The event draws thousands of people every year and keeps on growing.
"Every year someone comes up with something new, another event to add to it and it gets everybody excited again and then they want to do that," said Shirley Austin, member of the Downtown Association.
The addition of the duck tours on the Black River this year is a big hit, selling out all the tickets. So, some people may have to wait until next year or head down to Wisconsin Dells.


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