Friday, January 15, 2010

True colors

Land Line Now and Land Line Magazine have been covering Jasmine, Lee and Paulette Jordan as the family teams up to support Jazzy’s run across America – available online at www.runwithjazzy.com.

Lee and Paulette are members of OOIDA. While Lee drives the family pickup and RV, Paulette is managing the Jordans’ two trucking businesses back home in Minnesota. Jazzy is running as much as 20 miles daily in an effort to raise awareness to the lack of affordable health care available to U.S. truckers, and she’s raising money for the St. Christopher Fund – a non-profit group that helps truckers obtain medical procedures.

Last week, the Jordans and the U.S. Honor Flag announced a new partnership to promote both the St. Christopher Fund and the efforts of the U.S. Honor Flag organization. The organization uses a now famous flag displayed at Ground Zero shortly after 9-11 to honor firefighters, police officers and military service personnel.

The organization is proud to partner with the Jordan family, said Chris Heisler, president and CEO of the Honor Network, which handles operations for the U.S. Honor Flag. More information is available at www.ushonorflag.org.

U.S. Honor Flag will arrange for police and fire departments to run with Jasmine as she makes her way eastward across the southern U.S.

“Obviously this young woman has a great sense of patriotism to run from Los Angeles to New York,” Heisler said. “There are a lot of places along the way that we can bring some energy and synergy – and bring more media resources to benefit the St. Christopher’s Fund.”

The organization is promoting healthier lifestyles for police and fire workers nationwide, and hopes that Jazzy’s cause will help motivate many public servants.

“This is a wonderful thing – we’re very proud of what she’s doing and excited about what’s literally down the road for her,” Heisler said.

Heisler can relate to long journeys.

The Houston resident was successful and content working in the energy industry.

The events of Sept. 11, 2001, however, struck a chord with Heisler. He personally brought a U.S. flag that was presented to him by the Texas House of Representatives to Ground Zero along with a police motorcade.

Heisler was so moved by the former World Trade Center site, that at the age of 34, he enlisted in the U.S. Army.

“A lot of people put stickers and stuff on their cars, and that’s great,” Heisler said. “But I wanted to do something. Being at Ground Zero, seeing that devastation – it impacted me.”

Heisler said he sacrificed both career and money to join the military. And, even though he laughs about paying more in taxes than what he earned, he’s glad he did.

Heisler says he spent 11 months and 18 days in Iraq. While overseas, he brought the same U.S. flag to be flown in combat zones in Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq.

He was injured during the war, and now suffers from partial paralysis on his left side.

“These men and women are literally pulling their hearts and souls out on the line to defend our nation,” Heisler said. “If I hadn’t joined the Army, I wouldn’t be able to understand and appreciate what our law enforcement and firefighters do on a regular basis.”

Heisler said the flag will be presented by a color guard at this year’s NFL Super Bowl in Miami.

Since 9-11, the flag has been presented at more than 1,000 events, including many funeral services for firefighters, police officers and soldiers.

As part of the organization’s partnership with American Airlines, the flag is presented by a color guard at every airport, handed to an AA pilot and transported in the cockpit to each destination, where it is met by another color guard and local police officer. The flag is microchipped and tracked by GPS at all times.

Heisler said the flag isn’t always popular. He’s had feces thrown at him, and his truck’s tires have been slashed by protestors at some events.

“When they see that beautiful flag, it makes it all worth it,” he said.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Jobless in Tulsa

A recent letter from Marshall Stapp from Oklahoma City painted an agonizing scene of shock at Tulsa-based Arrow Trucking as the word was given to cease operations.

Stapp was a driver and trainer for Arrow. He witnessed the collapse.

Several days before Christmas, he was at the Flying J in Tulsa, headed to pick up a load in Laredo. He tried to fuel up but his fuel card was inactive. The fuel desk told Stapp the Arrow computers were down.

At first, it made no sense. “I asked, how can that be?” he wrote to OOIDA in an account of that day. “How am I going to get this load?”

Stapp called his driver-manager to let her know of the situation. He described her as “upset,” telling him to wait there. After three hours, Stapp called his customer to see if the load had canceled. They said no. Soon, he got a call from his DM and she told him to bring the trailer and tractor back to the yard. Stapp was incredulous. He asked her “is something wrong? Am I fired?” She said no, just come back to the terminal.

When he got back to the terminal, he saw people scattered, talking. It was Tuesday morning.

“I proceeded to the safety and log personnel, everyone was taking things off the wall and packing things in little boxes. I asked driver-trainer manager what was going on? She said ‘not so good.’ ”

Stapp was told “whatever you’re thinking, triple it and it’s true. OMG, I told her, you mean …? And she said yes.”

Stapp spent the night in his truck. The next morning he was parked at the QuikTrip off of I-44 and as he got out to buy coffee, he saw Arrow trucks being towed into a gate just west of the QT. Stapp was shocked.

He drove over to the terminal and was even more surprised to see tow trucks hooking up one after another. Stapp tells he had little money and no paycheck for the last week he worked.

“It was a nightmare. The television crew across the street, people crying and hugging – I went to my truck and got my things out before they came and towed mine.”

As he says in his poignant letter describing the last day – the scene was something he will never forget.