In support of those who served

Western Star trucks serve as tributes to military.

November 2019

Greg Grisolano

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Charles Newton says it started with a good idea to honor military service members from the shop foreman when their new 2019 Western Star 5700 rolled into the shop at B&J Trucking in Jeffersonville, Ind., earlier this year.

“When we went to the Western Star Freightliner plant, they had some of these murals out there, and I mean, some breathtaking murals on some of these trucks,” Newton said in a phone interview with Land Line. “When (the truck) came in, our shop foreman commented, ‘Man, we ought to do that up in camouflage and make it military. So that’s what we did.”

The paint scheme and camo stripe make the truck appear like it wouldn’t look out of place in a military convoy. The coat of arms for each of the five branches of service adorns the sleeper, as do the messages “Land of the Free, Because of the Brave” and “We Proudly Support Our Troops.”

“Some of these other (tribute trucks) that are out there, they’re fabulous beautiful murals. But you almost have to stand there and look at it sitting still to be able to appreciate everything that’s on it,” Newton said. “And whereas ours, in my opinion, is kind of a quick eye-catch from the other side of the interstate, and they’ll go, ‘Wow look at that!’ And then off you go.”

Newton said the truck has gotten such a positive response, they decided to do a second tribute truck. The company has a black 2019 Western Star 5700 that has been decked out as a rolling memorial to the National League of Prisoners of War/Missing In Action (POW*MIA) Families. The sleeper of that truck features the reminder that “All Gave Some, Some Gave All.”

The branches of service truck was on display as part of Western Star’s booth at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville last March.

Eddie Johnson drives the Western Star that’s dedicated to all five service branches of the military. He says the truck turns plenty of heads wherever it’s rolling.

“I’ll be driving down the road – I get thumbs up, and people blow the horn,” he said. “It catches a lot of attention. I stop and get fuel and drivers will walk over and compliment me on the truck.”

An Army veteran, Johnson said he drove a truck for Uncle Sam from 1973 to 1977. On one of his first runs in the tribute truck, he had to pick up a load of foam from a facility in Virginia. On his way in, he noticed a sign out front that proudly touted the company’s commitment to hiring military veterans. Once his truck pulled in, he says it didn’t take long for a crowd of ex-service members to surround his vehicle.

“The next thing I know everybody in the factory is coming off to take looks at it, and they were really impressed with it,” he said. “It was well worth it. It’s good to see that it is appreciated.”

Johnson has been driving for B&J for about 11 years. He says he mostly runs I-80 and I-40 heading to the West Coast and back.

“I couldn’t say nothing better about (my company),” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed working for them all the years I’ve been there. They really took care of their drivers.” LL

Editor’s note: Looking for a way to honor those who serve or have served our country in the military? Check out Truckers for Troops.

Greg Grisolano

Greg Grisolano joined Land Line in 2013. He was formerly a reporter for the Joplin Globe. He brings business writing and photography skills to Land Line, and has a passion for finding and telling stories about the people who make up the trucking industry.