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Never ‘just a trucker’

By Kerry Evans-Spillman
Land Line staff

 

Covering member news and the happenings in trucking is much like reporting community news; it’s just that our stomping ground is bigger than most. Keeping up with the “community news” keeps our big old coast-to-coast neighborhood connected. While the mainstream public sees the person behind the wheel as “just a trucker” – we know that the driver is so much more than that.

It’s a truck, it’s a plane
It’s OOIDA Senior Member Skip Tillett hauling an OV-10 Bronco Vietnam-era plane from Patrick Air Force Base to the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum at the Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, FL.

Skip’s wife, Susan, says he loves a challenge. He got one in spades on May 10 when he took the Bronco on a 33-mile trip lasting more than five hours at a top speed of 6 mph. Brevard County Sheriff deputies helped control traffic along U.S. 1, and crews had to temporarily bend or twist road signs to accommodate the plane’s 40-foot wing span.

Skip’s friend, OOIDA Member Bill Seifreit, says Skip is a remarkable trucker, known for having older, but meticulously maintained, equipment and for always wearing his trademark suspenders.

Skip began trucking with his father, Walter, in the 1970s.  In Skip’s 30-plus years of heavy-haul trucking, he has transported several planes and even rockets.

Hank’s new Highway Hilton
Longtime OOIDA Member Henry “Hank” Good took his Class 1 road test on his 21st birthday and began trucking. He’s well known to the industry for his 1981 Kenworth K100 Aerodyne that became known as “Hank’s Highway Hilton.” He’s trucked in the U.S., and he took the truck in 1992 to Europe, where he made a number of sponsored “tours.” He trucked many years for Caretta Trucking. When Caretta went out of business, hard times hit Hank, too. After numerous surgeries that included a hip replacement, he needed a lengthy physical rehab.

Hank has been determined to keep trucking, and in May he was hired by Schneider National. Hank told us he was due to start orientation June 7. He says he will soon be back on the road in a newly purchased 2007 KW W900L that will be “Hank’s Highway Hilton 2.”

He still calls Monticello, NY, his home, and still owns his trusty 1981 KW, which has been restored and retired.

Retired from driving but not from trucking
Back in August, OOIDA Life Member Jeff Moe of Salisbury, NC, sent an e-mail to Land Line telling us he had been forced to retire from driving after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

He was not content to leave behind the industry to which he had given 41 years of his life and wanted to know what else could be done since driving was no longer an option. Managing Editor Sandi Soendker saw an opportunity for Jeff to serve as a story adviser so he could remain connected to trucking without having to be behind the wheel. Since then, Jeff has proven to be an invaluable source for information directly from an experienced trucker’s perspective.

Jeff is proactive about his health and is working hard to slow the progression of his ALS. Like many OOIDA members, Jeff served in the military. The Air Force sent him to Vietnam in 1965 where he was a crew chief on a C-123 Provider with Operation Ranch Hand spraying Agent Orange. He didn’t know it at the time, but exposure to that chemical would later cause fatal complications for his infant daughter and eventually leave Jeff with ALS.

Thankfully, Jeff is still in good physical shape but symptoms of ALS can often include muscle cramps or twitches that affect mobility. Recently, Jeff got a new power wheelchair and shared photos with us. He shows his loyalty to the industry by displaying his OOIDA life member decals on his new wheels. He would like to add one more finishing touch to his ride. He’s looking for a set of chrome stacks that will fit the wheelchair.

They ride for those who can’t
OOIDA headquarters is situated nicely along Interstate 70 in Grain Valley, MO. It’s the perfect spot to send and receive waves and smiles from passing truckers; we love to hear those truck horns, too. Our location also serves as the ultimate front row seat when the Run For The Wall bikers come roaring past on their way to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.

For the third year in a row, we had the pleasure of cheering for the bikers when they rolled by HQ on May 24. OOIDA Life Member and Vietnam vet “Krazy” Karl Haartz of Thornton, NH, stopped by again this year to say hello and share some Run For The Wall pins with the staff.

He was one of about 300 bikers who made the cross-country trek along RFTW’s central route. The bikers have been making the run since 1989 to raise awareness for the men and women still unaccounted for from all U.S. wars. Some said as many as 400,000 bikers were expected to meet at the Wall on Memorial Day. LL

 

kerry_evans-spillman@ooida.com
Managing Editor Sandi Soendker contributed.

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