June 28:  Ayr, ON - Heroes Helping Heroes

Soldiers, Sailors, Aircrew, Servicemen and Women, Troops, Canadian Forces Personnel … there are many ways that we refer to those who wear the uniform of our military.  Often we simply call them heroes.

Today the POH Tour made a detour for a special VIP stop in Ayr, ON to visit our friends at Trans-Frt McNamara.  You might not have heard of this trucking company but you’ve likely seen their distinctive green trucks and trailers hauling cargo across the country.  From locations in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and California, they have more than 100 trucks and 220 trailers pickup and deliver anywhere in North America.

But there is one special truck in their fleet:  the one responsible for hauling the Portraits of Honour National Tour’s mobile display trailer across Canada.

To properly tell the story, one has to go back about 6 weeks … one week before the Tour’s launch.  With just one week to the official unveiling by Canada’s Governor General, the Tour faced a major setback.  The company that had indicated they would supply a rig to POH backed out.

Without a truck to haul the trailer which contains the Portraits of Honour mural, the Tour wouldn’t be going anywhere.

A desperate call was put out and Kin Gord Trecartin made a call to the folks at Trans-Frt McNamara.  The owners, Greg Palmer and his business partner Ward Tregoning didn’t waste any time calling Gord back.  They offered up one of their best drivers – Paul Corey – and told us that they would get us started for a couple weeks.  We were grateful beyond words.  It meant that the Tour could at least start.  We would figure out weeks 3 and 4 when we could.

One week later we got the chance to meet Greg Palmer and his young sons personally.  He had just witnessed the official unveiling of the mural and got the opportunity to watch the reaction of the families of several fallen troops and the hundreds of others who waited up to an hour for their turn to view the mural.

By the time we met Greg, his eyes were red and puffy with tears.  He had nothing to apologize for; he was not alone.  He didn’t need any further convincing.  He quickly offered the services of driver Paul and one of his trucks for the 6 month duration of the Tour if Paul was willing.  Words can’t express the gratitude or relief the Tour Team felt.

Sean, the tour’s National Operations Manager, gave Greg a hug.  There were no words.  The tears in the eyes of both men told the story.  Eventually gaining his composure, Sean turned his attention to Greg’s young sons.  He pointed to the mural and explained to the boys that the men and women on it are called heroes.  They nodded in agreement.

“Your Dad is also a special hero.  He’s a hero who is helping those other heroes,” said Sean.  The boys, only 4 or 5 years old, nodded proudly, turned to each of Dad’s legs where they each hugged one.

Today at the Trans-Frt McNamara head office, there were more hugs as the staff and special guests were treated to a private viewing of the mural followed by a tasty luncheon cooked on the BBQ.

They celebrated their involvement in the Tour and they honoured Paul for his dedication as our driver – although Paul will point over to mural and tell you that he’s “their (the 157 fallen troops) driver”.

Every Trans-Frt employee should feel tremendous pride for what they have done for Canada.  You are all heroes helping heroes.