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 2022, to be specific, 609 truckloads of wreaths were delivered, representing 439 different carriers.
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 2023, with over 3,700 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 and what motivates them to serve and succeed in the “Trucking Tributes” feature online and on Wreaths Across America Radio.
This edition of Trucking Tributes features three great guys who are helping Wreaths Across America stay safe and compliant while on the road with the Mobile Education Exhibit. As Frank Pellitta, President of Assured Telematics Inc. (ATI) explained, the connection came through another Assured Telematics customer. “I was introduced to Wreaths Across America through one of our customers, Brown Dog Carriers. Graig Morin of Brown Dog, who is on the Board, called me and said they had a need with an immediate turnaround, and we were quick to jump to action on that, but some of our other customers, like JB Hunt and Hirschbach, support the organization as well.” That “need” was immediately filled by Assured Telematics at no cost to the organization. For thirteen years, Assured Telematics has supported fleet customers of all sizes, providing comprehensive telematics solutions with Geotab’s fleet management solutions. Assured Telematics helps customers improve fleet and driver safety, optimize efficiency, ensure regulatory compliance, and promote sustainability.
When approached, Frank and his team, without hesitation, generously donated equipment for the Mobile Education Exhibit. Notably, Dave Reeves, a former Marine, fulfills the role of VP of Customer Experience at ATI. He describes his job as “smoothing out the road on a pathway the customers can follow without issues.” Dave’s military legacy runs deep. “My dad is a Vietnam-era veteran who served in the United States Army. I was a United States Marine. My oldest son is a United States Marine. My youngest son is still active with the Marines and has been deployed for some time now, but we’re looking forward to him returning to Camp Lejeune in August. I truly appreciate what Wreaths Across America does and what it means to our families, so I was excited to be able to get involved with the organization.”
Assured Telematics Director of Sales Vincent Rush also expressed a similar sentiment. Like Dave, Vincent has a family history of military service, with his grandfather losing his life during WWII. His father went Airborne, and Vince pursued photojournalism for the United States Navy and was initially attached to an aircraft carrier. Vince was documenting history during the military peacekeeping operation in the Lebanese civil war, during which the U.S. Embassy was blown up.
It was during this time in service that Vince got an opportunity of a lifetime. “At that time, Bob Hope was doing his USO shows, and he was bringing nineteen-year-old Brooke Shields with him, Kathy Lee Crosby, George Kirby, Vic Damone, and Miss U.S.A. Julie Hayek. A Chief Warrant officer approached me and said, ‘Rush, we’ve got a special assignment for you. You’re going to be Bob Hope’s photographer.” It turns out the photographer traveling with the performance troupe got sick and had to return home. “At the end of that tour, they said they really liked my pictures and asked if I’d like to do one more tour, this one with Wayne Newton, Mr. Las Vegas. He was the nicest guy on earth, and he really liked our military.”
During the interview, Dave expressed the reason the three men support the TEACH objective of the mission. “It’s so important. Educate, educate, and when we think we’re done, educate more about the price of freedom. Let’s teach our kids every day that people are sitting on walls out there in countries they don’t necessarily want to be in defending our freedoms, even if you don’t see it on the news today.”
Tune in exclusively to Wreaths Across America Radio every Truckin' Tuesday at 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM ET to catch the full interview with Frank, Dave, and Vincent on Trucking Tributes!