Wreaths Across America's Trucking Tributes Presents Bernie Wanyo with UPS

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.

Bernie Wanyo is a professional driver with UPS, and an ATA Road Team Captain in Pennsylvania. His father was his role model in trucking from a young age. “My father was a concrete finisher when I was a kid, and the first time I got to go to work with him and I saw the concrete truck roll in I was in awe,” Bernie shared. “I said, I want to do that. I was seven years old at the time. A little later I had a job at a moving company, and they asked me if I had any interest in driving. So, I started right out of high school, and I’ve been driving ever since.” Today, Bernie serves on the safety committee with UPS, was a member of the Pennsylvania Road Team, and was nominated for the ATA America’s Road Team program.

Bernie has been involved with Wreaths Across America since a fellow motorcycle club member discovered the activity taking place at the Indian Town Gap Cemetery in 2016. He says that hooked him and he’s grown with the organization through the years. “Going from showing up at the Indian Town Gap Cemetery in 2016 to help with wreath laying, to being part of the motorcycle escort into the cemetery the following year, then to being the truck driver being led into the cemetery hauling the veterans’ wreaths as a member of the Honor Fleet is amazing. Wreaths is such a special part of my life that I’m hopeful I can keep doing this right up until, and after retirement.” Bernie shared that one day he hopes to be chosen for the Annual Wreath Escort from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery.

Several members of Bernie’s family have served, but he was strongly encouraged not to. “The Wanyo’s have not had the best of luck in the military,” Bernie explained. “My great grandfather, my grandfather, my uncle, and my dad have all served in the U.S. Army, and it seems all of them have been injured during service, so my grandfather begged me and my cousins not to join because of our bad luck. He was a superstitious sort of guy. But he always said to support the military. He said if someone passes on who served and has no family, go to their funeral. He said to always support our fallen heroes.”

All the time that Bernie has been involved as a Wreaths Across America volunteer and member of the Honor Fleet he’s been taking the Teach cornerstone of the mission to heart.

Having the chance to speak everyone’s name at their headstone is powerful. Keeping their honor alive is probably what keeps me going every year. It’s been great getting my kids involved too. Last year my oldest stopped by the cemetery. He didn’t even tell me he was coming, and then from out of nowhere he comes walking up the hill and I didn’t have to wake him up at 5 o’clock in the morning this year, and yet he still came. That was really a proud pappa moment for sure.”

Thank you, Bernie Wanyo, UPS and the ATA 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 Bernie 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