Wreaths Across America's Trucking Tributes Presents JD and Gully Transportation
Trucking Tributes provides Wreaths Across America the opportunity to share stories from our trucking company partners and their professional drivers who are committed to the mission to remember, honor, and teach. Supporting the mission is personal for many of the drivers who are themselves U.S. military veterans and tell us the load of veterans’ wreaths is the most important haul of their careers. Some of those drivers are also Gold Star parents. Teaching younger generations about the sacrifices of our military families helps to reinforce the reality that freedom is not free.
May 12, 2007, was a tragic day for the Walker family. The news came from Iraq that Lance Corporal Jeffery Davis Walker was killed in action while serving with the U.S. Marines. “From May 14th to this very day, I still have issues when it comes to my son,” James David Walker reluctantly shares. “You know, he was a good guy, awesome, more-or-less the life of the party.”
James David Walker is fondly referred to by family, friends, and coworkers as “JD,” and he’s a senior driver for Gully Transportation out of Quincy, Illinois. JD is a U.S. Navy veteran, and a Gold Star father. “I was driving across country when I got the call from my youngest daughter Kasey, telling me Jeffery had been shot. Jeffrey was on his 2nd tour of duty on a resupply mission when a sniper took his life. I could not believe it at first, but it was true. I had talked to him a few weeks before this took place and he had said that it was getting bad over there. He had called his mother (whose name now is Teresa Rutledge) on May 14, 2007 at about 2 minutes after midnight to wish her happy Mother’s Day. 20 minutes later he was gone.”
As irony would have it, JD was working with a driver trainee when he got the devastating phone call in 2007. The trainee was from the middle east. “He rode with me to Georgia to make sure I made it home ok. He caught a plane to go back home to Sacramento Ca, called the carrier I was employed by the next day and told them he wanted to wait for his trainer to get back on the road and finish the job, which I did with honor. This was truly a blessing from God. I could not have done it without him.”
Earlier this year, Michael Gully and Andrew Eisenbeiss requested that JD accompany them to the Freightliner/WesternStar factory in Cleveland, North Carolina. Unbeknownst to JD there was a big surprise waiting for him. “They weren’t saying much going out there and come to find out buddies of mine knew about this, the whole company knew about this. Everybody but me knew about this,” JD chuckled. Gully Transportation is one of three companies to receive a Ride of Pride truck and because JD was a Gold Star father, Freightliner put a special memorial to Jeffery on the truck he received. “As I got closer to the truck, I was just floored,” JD shared. “It’s really such an honor to think that Gully and these guys would do something like this for me.” In a Facebook post, Gully Transportation shared the same sentiment. “Gully Transportation has no words to express how proud we are to have you be part of the family. This one’s for you, JD.”
JD says one of the things on his bucket list was visiting Arlington National Cemetery, and he accomplished that with Wreaths Across America hauling a symbol of America’s respect honoring our fallen. Thank you, JD and the entire Gully Transportation family, for supporting the mission. You can hear more of JD’s story on Trucking Tributes on Wreaths Across America Radio, Tuesday at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM eastern time.