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.
When the word “solutions” is part of your name, it would make sense that logistics is one of your company’s core strengths. As the Wreaths Across America mission grows yearly, so does the value of the commitment shown by Crowley, a global leader in logistics, maritime and energy solutions. Crowley donates land and sea transportation and logistics to ensure that wreaths arrive in Puerto Rico to honor and remember the military veterans buried on the island.
Wally Gonzales is the Director, Business Development - Supply Chain Management for Crowley Government Solutions. His operational focus is expanding Crowley Solutions’ enterprise across the Department of Defense (DoD) and other federal government agencies. He has been with Crowley since 2013 after distinguished military service. “After leaving Puerto Rico, I proudly served twenty-four years in the U.S. Army,” Wally shared. “I retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. I had a great career, and it set me up well for after my military service. I was fortunate to join Crowley, and I understand the meaning behind supporting Wreaths Across America. One day when it’s my time to meet the creator, I’ll look back and see someone putting a wreath on my tombstone.” Wally retired from active duty in 2007.
In December of 2022, Wally served as the emcee for the special celebration in Puerto Rico, celebrating the life and service of Roberto Clemente. Also, in 2022, more than 150 Crowley employees, family and friends joined in paying tribute to military veterans, both past and present, at wreath-laying ceremonies in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, Jacksonville, Florida, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With the contributions and additional support of their industry partners, Crowley delivered more than 12,000 wreaths to participating cemeteries.
Another one of those participating Crowley employees is transportation specialist, Kelly Jenerou. Kelly recently met the Wreaths Across America Radio team at the Mid-America Trucking Show in the spring of 2023.
During her interview, as she talked about her ten years of military service in the U.S. Army, the team invited Kelly to Maine so she could have the opportunity to tag a tree for her and her husband. Kelly and her husband met while she was serving in the Army, and he is a one hundred percent service-disabled veteran who served twenty-two years. When Kelly returned from the truck show and shared that invitation with her supervisors at Crowley, they took it and ran and recently surprised Kelly with a trip to Maine for Wreaths Across America’s Annual Stem to Stone event at the end of July. The driving and logistics training she developed in the Army made her a perfect candidate for employment with Crowley, and she’s been with them for nine years.
Kelly has never been to Maine, and on this trip, she will be honoring service members on behalf of Crowley’s Veterans Business Resource Group, which Kelly chairs. “It’s already been an amazing experience, and I haven’t even gotten there yet,” Kelly enthusiastically shared. “I’ll be tagging a tree for myself and my husband, but also for my best friend who was K.I.A. in Afghanistan in 2011, and he’s buried in Puerto Rico. I was extremely pregnant and at risk, so I couldn’t go to his funeral. To be able to tag this tree for him feels like something I’m finally able to get done for him. It’s such an honor to be able to tag trees on behalf of the uncles, grandfathers, brothers and friends of my veteran’s resource group members.”
Thank you, Wally, Kelly, and the entire Crowley team, for your continued support of the mission to remember, honor and teach. You can hear more from Kelly and Wally in their Trucking Tributes interview, listened to exclusively every Trucking Tuesday at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM Eastern on Wreaths Across America Radio.