December 22, 2014 1:45 AM, EST

Trucking Industry Honors Military Veterans; 720,000 Wreaths Delivered to Cemeteries

Jaclyn O'Laughlin
By Mindy Long, Special to Transport Topics

This story appears in the Dec. 22 & 29 print edition of Transport Topics.

The trucking industry delivered 283 truckloads of holiday wreaths at more than 1,000 cemeteries Dec. 13 as part of Wreaths Across America, an annual event that honors members of the military.

As part of the tribute, 720,000 wreaths were placed on the graves of veterans nationwide, including 230,000 in Arlington National Cemetery.

Professional drivers volunteered their time, and 131 carriers donated their trucks and fuel. The Truckload Carriers Association coordinated the nationwide effort and raised money for the placement of wreaths.

Trucking Moves America Forward supported the event with a $10,000 donation.

American Trucking Associations’ Share the Road truck was among those that took part in the convoy that traveled from Harrington, Maine, to Arlington, Virginia.

The convoy made 31 stops along the way at schools, landmarks and fire departments to educate the public about trucking safety and the mission of Wreaths Across America, said Elisabeth Barna, vice president of communications and public affairs for ATA.

America’s Road Team captains Ralph Garcia and Nate McCarty drove the truck. Garcia and McCarty drive for ABF Freight System Inc., based in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

“I look forward to this trip as much as I do to any other run I make. It is an honor to be part of this convoy and a tremendously rewarding way to start the holiday season,” McCarty said.

Wreaths Across America recently presented Robert Baylor, president of Baylor Trucking Inc., with the first annual James Prout/Wreaths Across America Spirit of Giving Award for his support. The honor is named in the memory of James Prout, owner of Blue Bird Ranch Trucking of Jonesboro, Maine, who was the first person to volunteer to haul wreaths.

The campaign, which originated with Worcester Wreath Co., in Harrington, began in 1992.

Several carriers have been involved for years, including Baylor Trucking, based in Milan, Indiana.

Baylor, a U.S. Army veteran, provides manpower, equipment and fuel to haul wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery and veterans cemeteries in his home state of Indiana, as well as neighboring states. He also spearheaded fundraisers to help adorn a cemetery in the Cincinnati area.

To raise awareness for WAA, Baylor Trucking has two trailers branded with the group’s message so the company can spread it year-round. Four generations of the Baylor family attended this year’s event at Arlington National Cemetery.

“I know that through this experience, future generations will know that the price of freedom is not free,” Baylor said.

This is the first year Interstate Distributor, based in Tacoma, Washington, delivered wreaths. The company devoted two trucks, which were driven by husband-and-wife teams — Rick and Donna Fogt and Allen and Patricia Erwin.

Both couples have experience with the military, with Donna Fogt serving six years in the Army and Allen Erwin serving six years in the Army National Guard.

ATA President Bill Graves said there is no higher calling for an American than to serve in the military, and the trucking industry was pleased to honor those who served.

“Whether it is events like Wreaths Across America, or our recent commitment to hire 100,000 veterans, the trucking industry feels deeply indebted to those who serve our country and are happy to give back in any way we can,” Graves said.