OOIDA members show their support for our military
The soldier and the trucker.
Most folks think of those as two separate and distinct groups.
But many, perhaps most, truckers have served in our nation’s armed forces. Certainly that’s true with OOIDA members.
In fact, whether they served or not, truckers are a patriotic lot. And over the past year, we’ve seen a lot of truckers go the extra mile to honor or even help our military overseas.
For a lot of folks behind the wheel, it can be as simple as a nice letter, a card or an e-mail.
But OOIDA Life Member Dan Toops went a step further. His card to the troops, if you can call it that, was a 3-foot-wide, 1,000-foot-long piece of paper, rolled up like butcher paper, and filled with notes and signatures from truckers and others.
I talked with the London, OH, trucker back in April about his scroll. He told me then that his effort was not only about support – it was about preventing the repetition of an old mistake.
“My nephew did two tours in Iraq, and I don’t want our military coming home like they did from Vietnam,” Toops said. “There’s no sense in that. These men and women fight for our freedom, and they need our respect and our support.”
Some of the most obvious efforts by truckers to reach out to our troops came as part of OOIDA’s Truckers for Troops Telethon.
Trucker, OOIDA member and country singer Leland Martin is donating a portion of the sales from his newest disc, also called “Truckers for Troops,” to the effort, which raises money to send care packages to our troops in combat zones overseas.
“Well, those that know me already – especially my fans out there, the drivers – know how patriotic I am,” Martin said. “I never served, because at that age, I wasn’t in very good health.
“But I was very patriotic,” he added. “My dad’s a Marine; my grandpa, he was Navy.
“As a matter of fact, a song on this album – called “Flags on a Christmas Tree” – I wrote inspired by my grandpa,” Martin said. “I was always raised to respect our flag, our elders and our soldiers, and that’s just the way I am. “
Another pair of truckers who have shown their support for our soldiers in song have put out a CD of music, much of it patriotic: OOIDA members Howard Salmon and Ron Terry.
The disc is titled “These Trucks Are Made of Gold.” It contains “The Soldiers and the Truckers,” and several pieces created around Ron Terry’s poems, including “Thanks to the Soldiers.”
Like Martin, a health problem prevented Terry from having a career in our nation’s military; instead, he spent years serving in law enforcement. But also like Martin, Terry has a lot of family who have served, and he has a strong sense of patriotism.
“My dad was in the Army,” he said. “I joined, but then – because of a fluke – after I got in there, I got injured and had to come out. Instead of … trying to get back in the military, I got into law enforcement.
“I’ve got three boys, and all three of them have been in the Army,” Terry added. “I’ve got numerous relatives, uncles on both sides, that were in the military.
Terry grew up in northwest Florida, near the edge of Eglin Air Force Base.
“I always worked around and was involved with a lot of military personnel, and just found had a real close bond with them, just appreciated them for what they were doing,” he said. “It seemed like nobody ever really paid attention to what was really being done.”
Howard Salmon’s connection to the military is even closer. Salmon served himself, and last year donated another CD of music he created to go in the care packages sent by OOIDA to troops overseas.
He talked about his military experience recently during a conversation we had – and how his memory of that, and his fondness for his fellow truckers, inspired his music.
“The soldiers never really get a thank you,” he said. “The drivers never get a thank you.
He remembered one song on the disc he wrote after watching some children playing in a corn field. The image made him think