Wreaths Across America's Trucking Tributes Presents Michael Best with Patriot Tank Lines

Professional drivers and trucking companies give so much to the nation. Without them, the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor, and teach would be nearly impossible. Veterans’ wreaths move by planes, trains, ships, and livestock trailers, but trucks and their professional drivers transport the lion’s share of America's respect. In 2023, to be specific, 717 truckloads of wreaths were delivered, representing 332 different carriers and partners.

In November and December, one of the busiest periods of the year for the transportation sector, the Wreaths Across America mission brings drivers together in an effort of unparalleled unity. With a positive, “can-do” work ethic, these professionals make it possible for Americans to honor millions of veterans laid to rest at home and overseas. In 2024, with over 4,200 participating locations, in addition to Arlington National Cemetery, transportation logistics are immense.

Many of these drivers are military veterans and say the truckload of fresh balsam-fir wreaths is the most precious cargo they transport in their careers. Wreaths Across America shares their stories in the “Trucking Tributes” feature online and on Wreaths Across America Radio and Sirius XM, Channel 146, Road Dog Trucking.

Hauling fuel is his business, but it’s probably fair to say supporting military veterans is a passion for Michael Best, who works as the Operations Manager for Patriot Tank Lines out of Albany, New York. “These are the nicest people I’ve ever worked for,” Michael described his employers. “It makes it nice getting up every day knowing I have their support. We haul aviation fuels to airports, we haul gasoline to gas stations, we haul propane to bulk facilities, and transport hazmat materials. We have one truck in Portland, Maine. We used to have two, but one driver retired. We’re a family-owned company.”

Michael says trucking is in his blood. While he enjoys the management side of operations, he misses the open road. “I started young,” he reminisced. “I have eleven uncles who drove a truck. My father drove a truck, and I was always just around it and wanted to be near it. I run a trucking company now, but I miss the days of driving where you’d wake up every day to a new adventure. I missed a lot of home time back then, but it was what fed the family, and it was something that I could do that I was good at.”

Michael also chuckled about his MOS in the U.S. Army: “In the military, I grew up fast, and it was a good experience for me. Driving got me out of a lot of leg work. I had an opportunity to go to a mechanic school out of high school, but I didn’t do that. I wanted to drive trucks, but I didn’t want to work on them, so I joined the military so I could drive trucks there, and that’s what I did. I spent my active time there, and then I joined the National Guard out of Rutland, Vermont and served five years there.”

It was word-of-mouth that introduced Michael to Wreaths Across America several years ago. “A friend I worked with at Cumberland Farms years ago, Jimmy Costa, got me involved. We went up with the Maine Professional Drivers Association and went out to Arlington National Cemetery to place wreaths on all the gravesites. It was humbling as a veteran, an experience I’ll never forget.”

Michael’s involvement with Wreaths didn’t end there. “We started sending a truck up once a year about three years ago. My wife and I go up with the driver, Andrew Hutson, and watch the truck being loaded. My safety manager, Mark Henderson, goes on the delivery end with Andrew; that way, we all play a part in it. Wreaths Across America is doing the right thing for the right reasons, and we’re proud to be a part of it. I was happy to see all the companies and drivers involved. They’re all happy to be there. It’s really something else.”

You might take note that Michael says Patriot Tank Lines hauls fuel, and Wreaths Across America’s Director of Transportation, Courtney George, has always said a tanker is one thing she cannot load with veterans’ wreaths. That’s where fabulous partnerships come in to get the job done! Michael says they team up with Joe Verdi every year, and he lends them a trailer.

Thank you, Michael Best, the Patriot Tank Lines family, and Joe Verdi with A-Verdi Storage Containers, for helping support the mission to remember, honor, and teach.

If you’d like to join the Wreaths Across America Honor Fleet, you can get started with a click right here!

You can hear more with Michael on Trucking Tributes, which can be listened to every Truckin’ Tuesday at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM EST on Wreaths Across America Radio and Wednesday at 8:30 AM EST on Sirius XM Channel 146, Road Dog Trucking Radio.

Discover the Trucking Tributes archive playlist on Soundcloud.com