Features
Chicken Dinner News
‘The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is the little extra’

By Sandi Soendker
managing editor

 

If you are a football fan, then maybe you know that the guy who said that is football coach Jimmy Johnson, who turns 66 on July 16. Did you know that Johnson was nicknamed “Jimmy Jump-up” because when he was knocked to the ground during football games, he was determined to get right back up on his feet? This issue’s trucking community news leads off with a couple of good stories about truckers whose determination to get back up has put themselves in Coach Johnson’s class. We wrap up with a couple of truckers whose actions put them in the extraordinary category, too.

 

Putting the highway back in Highway Hero. Jorge Orozco-Sanchez is an OOIDA member from Firestone, CO. You may recognize that name from the pages of our May issue. Jorge is the 2008 Goodyear Highway Hero. Last fall, he was involved in a wreck in which an SUV veered into the path of his truck. The horrific head-on crash took the life of a 27-year-old mother, but Jorge was able to rescue the two children strapped in the car seats in back. Fire engulfed the SUV, and the flames destroyed Jorge’s truck and trailer, too. His heroic effort earned Jorge esteem from not only Goodyear, but the entire trucking industry.

The wreck happened in October 2008. Circumstances kept him off the road for seven long months. At the end of May, OOIDA helped him find a good deal on a 2005 Freightliner Columbia (with APU) and a trailer. OOIDA financed the equipment and helped him get a grant on the APU from SmartWay. The one-stop shopping at OOIDA for permits, insurance, etc. was handy, too.

On May 29, he picked up the truck here at HQ. Now he’s truckin’ again. Special kudos to Goodyear Tires, who welcomed Jorge back by putting on 18 new Fuel Max tires all around and donating refurbished wheels for the truck. That’s not all. Several more industry friends were involved in putting Jorge back behind the wheel. Be sure to see who they are on Page 10.

***

Another good guy back on the road. OOIDA member Dennis Lott, Columbus, OH, is Arrow’s Back on the Road winner. We first met Dennis at MATS. At the end of May, he was in KC for some Arrow business and came by the HQ to say hi. When members come by to visit, it’s like story time for us. Truckers have the best stories in the world, bar none. Dennis is right up there.

Dennis started driving big trucks in the U.S. Air Force in 1974. When he got out, he became an owner-operator. When he was injured in an Air Force Reserve training exercise in 2000, he got out of trucking. As his back was healing, he was called back up by reserves. “I was one of those called back up after Sept. 11,” he told us. He transported injured soldiers from Iraq to Germany and prisoners from Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay.

Dennis was loadmaster for some of the nation’s biggest military transport planes, including the monster Lockheed C-5. We talked about some of the cargo he’d moved by air. He and his crew once moved a 200,000-pound submarine from Washington state to Hawaii. He said it took hours to load and 45 minutes to unload. With the plane, crew, fuel, load, etc. the scale was tipping 700,000 pounds. Now that’s some cargo largo.

Dennis’ back is good to go, now, and he’s back trucking in a good-looking Volvo thanks to Arrow Trucks. It is OOIDA’s privilege to be a sponsor in that campaign.

***

Field trip! Our news clerk, Kerry Evans-Spillman, recently talked to OOIDA member Matt Slovack, Trucker Buddy to Mrs. Linda Ford’s fourth-grade class from Lincoln Irving Elementary in Moline, IL. On May 11, Matt accompanied the kids as they visited the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum to check out the antique trucks and learn some trucking history. He drove his truck, and they rode the school bus.

Part of their trip included taking the school bus over the CAT scale. The kids made guesses on the weight, which turned out to be 25,000 lbs. After that, the kids rode on the bus as it went through the truck wash. Matt says they had a blast making faces at the guys as they sprayed the bus.

The students also visited the truck stop to see the driver’s lounge, showers, laundry, barbershop and dentist. They were super impressed with the chrome shop. After the tour, they each got to sit in Matt’s truck to blow the horn and talk on the CB. Matt showed them how to do a pre-trip inspection and how and why to slide trailer tandems. 

He taught them about load securement by securing himself to the wall with a ratchet strap.

***

Krazy Karl’s run for The Wall. It was about noon on Monday, May 18, and one big rumbling division of the Run for The Wall pack rolled past OOIDA on I-70 east of Kansas City, MO, on the way to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in DC. There, the pack joined Rolling Thunder.

As they passed our headquarters, a crowd of OOIDA employees were out on the shoulder to greet them, waving like crazy and whooping it up. One of the bikers pulled out of the pack, slowed down and guided his big blue Honda Gold Wing to a stop on the shoulder – right there where we were standing. The leather-clad rider – complete with a vest covered with patches and badges – swung off his bike and introduced himself to our elated group.

“I’m Krazy Karl, life member!”

One of our own? We screamed and converged on him for hugs. It was Life Member Karl Haartz. He served in the infantry in Vietnam in 1966-67 and now lives in Thornton, NH.

Land Line Now’s Reed Black produced a microphone to catch an interview on the fly.

Karl told Reed (who’s also a Vietnam vet) that because he knows trucks, he was assigned to communicate with truckers by CB as the motorcycle convoy moves down the highway.

Our Land Line photographer Nikohle Ellis quickly snapped some shots and then he was gone, off to catch up with the pack.

How neat was that? LL

sandi_soendker@landlinemag.com

July Digital Edition