Wreaths Across America's Trucking Tributes Presents Brian Ritter with Torres Transport LLC

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.

Brian Ritter with Torres Transport out of Lynchburg, Virginia understands service and sacrifice and it’s the reason the Wreaths Across America mission to Remember, Honor and Teach impacts him so deeply. “My start with the military was right out of high school,” Brian explained. “I was with the National Guard at first, and that was good. I wound up doing fourteen years in the Army with the last of my years in service with the 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky. I spent eleven and a half months sitting in Baghdad with the National Guard and while over there we lost one of our own. He happened to best my best friend, Sgt. Derek Ploughman. Doing Wreaths Across America is a yearly tribute to him and it’s my way to give back to everyone who has given the ultimate sacrifice. As for being in the military though, I enjoyed it and learned a lot of things. I did a little bit of a lot of different things, as long as it didn’t require security clearance,” he chuckled.

Brian’s co-pilot, life’s partner, and secretary is the woman he refers to as his “boss,” Michelle. She had never heard of Wreaths Across America until she joined Brian in 2017 for their first year coming to Maine as a member of the Wreaths Across America Honor Fleet. “I love going up there [Maine] it’s like a family, and every time you go up there there’s always something different. They welcome you with open arms.” She also admitted that one of her favorites parts of arriving in Maine at the Wreaths Across America’s Driver’s Check-in and Lounge was the food which has graciously been provided through donations and cooked up by the Tyson Foods Cook Team. Additionally, Tyson participates in hauling multiple loads of veterans’ wreaths.

The first few years of Brian’s participation he was driving for Leonard’s Express who remains involved with the mission today. Now he’s driving as Torres Transport out of Lynchburg, Virginia and despite the distance, he and Michelle have made the trek to pick up veterans’ wreaths to honor our fallen. “After the first year, I just knew that was the place for me, and I just had to get to Maine in the winter for those wreaths. I tell people that if you really respect the military and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice then you need to get up there and haul those wreaths. There needs to be something honoring them and if you can’t give up just a little bit for them, why did they give up so much for you?”

Brian says over the years he’s watched the growth and development of Wreaths Across America and is pleased to learn about the effort to cater to first-time drivers to be sure they get a special experience to completely understand what Wreaths Across America is and how it operates. “Trust me, if you’re a first-time driver going up there, it can be overwhelming, especially if you’re a little bit shy. There’s a lot of people, but if you take the time to talk with them, you’ll realize you’ve got friends there. If you make some time, you really need to visit that museum and I’d have to say my favorite part is the church service before we leave. It’s peaceful and quiet among the trees.” Brian is referring to the non-denominational chapel owned by the Worcester family and a service traditionally held there for those who wish to attend, the weekend of the departure of the Annual Wreaths Across America Escort to Arlington in December.

Thank you, Brian and Michelle Ritter and Torres Transport 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 Brian and Michelle 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