By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer
For U.S. soldiers stationed around the globe, many admit that letters and care packages from home are what get them through difficult times.
This was the main reason OOIDA organized the first Truckers for Troops campaign four years ago to send care packages to U.S. troops stationed in combat zones.
While all care packages are special and mean a lot, the fact that OOIDA had sent the care package to one staff sergeant serving in Afghanistan had an even more profound impact.
Karol Barrow, widow of OOIDA Senior Member Joe Barrow, said her son Robbie was nearing the end of his third tour the day the care package arrived.
“As he was getting his orders for the day, one of his soldiers was coming toward him, calling out to him that a package had arrived with his name on it,” Karol told Land Line. “At the same time, his FOB (forward operating base) came under mortar attack and my son told the soldier to drop the package and run.”
The attack demolished the enlisted soldiers’ quarters, but thankfully no one was hurt.
Later, after things settled down, Karol said Robbie remembered the package, which had also been spared during the attack.
“When he saw the package was from OOIDA, he immediately broke down because he knew his stepdad Joe’s spirit was with him that day and that’s why nobody got hurt,” Karol said.
Robbie’s stepfather passed away in 2005 after battling cancer. Karol said Joe and Robbie were close and that her son would spend summer vacations on the truck with Joe.
“Joe would use the truck as motivation for my son to do well in school, to do anything,” Karol said. “All Joe would have to do is tell him to get all A’s in school and I’ll let you drive the truck. … Robbie would do it because he loved being around Joe and the truck.”
Karol said her son, now stationed back at Fort Riley, KS, still firmly believes that Joe was with him and his soldiers that day.
“My son grew up around trucking and when he saw the
box was from OOIDA on the same day they came under attack, he knew Joe was watching over him,” she said.
The tradition carries on
A few days before Christmas 2010, OOIDA Member Lyman Lincoln said he got a call from his daughter, Senior Airman Jessica Seibert, who had just received orders that she was deploying to Iraq the following day.
She was one of more than 45 airmen, the majority from the 59th Medical Wing, who deployed for approximately six months in support of Operation New Dawn.
Lincoln, of Huber Heights, OH, said his daughter followed in his footsteps and joined the U.S. Air Force four years ago. A medic, Seibert has been assigned to the intensive care unit at a military hospital in Iraq. Her goal is to one day become a heart surgeon.
As soon as Lincoln knew his daughter’s address in Iraq, he notified OOIDA so she could be added to the Truckers for Troops care package list. The first round of care packages are scheduled to be sent out in February.
Lincoln said he still remembers receiving care packages from home after he left for basic training in 1974, six days after graduating from high school. He spent 20 years in the Air Force before retiring as a flight crew chief in 1994.
“I am proud of her and what she is doing,” he said. “Jessica is focused, and she knows that being away from home is part of the job.”
Truckers give in big way
While many truckers say 2010 was a rocky year for them financially, OOIDA members still opened their hearts and their wallets to donate toward this worthy cause. In all, the fourth annual Truckers for Troops campaign raised more than $71,000 for care packages.
During the 2010 campaign, Dec. 6-10, many OOIDA members stopped by to personally drop off their donations and to sign cards that will be included in the packages. They also shared heartwarming stories of why they support OOIDA efforts to send care packages to as many soldiers as they can.
One touching story was when OOIDA Life Member Samuel Harrison of Diboll, TX, stopped by with his donation on the second day of the campaign.
Currently battling cancer and with mounting medical bills stemming from his chemotherapy treatments, the former Air Force veteran said he was compelled to visit OOIDA and give what he could for the troops.
The campaign got an early boost with a generous donation from Shell Rotella for $5,000. During the weeklong campaign, truckers were able to join OOIDA or renew their membership for $25, with 10 percent of that money going toward care packages for U.S. troops stationed in combat areas overseas. OOIDA matched the 10 percent dollar-for-dollar.
Country singer and OOIDA Life Member Leland Martin donated $5 from each sale of his “Truckers for Troops” CD to help pay for the care packages. He also took time out of his busy schedule and spent one evening taking calls from OOIDA members. LL