Joplin, Mo (Jan. 1, 2008 TBC Exclusive) His huge lardass was spilling off the sides of the stool as he sat at the counter wearing two dollar, ill-fitting sweat pants and an Army-T shirt riddle with holes. He was not fat, he was grossly obese. He made his 15th trip to the buffet and smiled at the waitress revealing his one his remaining tooth.
He let go a belch that shook the windows in the Petro and began to speak. He did not offer his name but he did illuminate all of us about the sordid, awful side of war, military life, dark ops, trucking and the situation in Iraq. He was Henry Kissinger, Howard Baker, Jethro Bodine, Junior Samples and John Rambo all rolled in to one.
He had stopped for a shower because it was the first of the year. He waddled in to the buffet, an unremarkable, rotund, wide load of a driver but little did anyone know he had been a military icon.
After his 19th cup of coffee he began to speak. In a voice that sounded like tree bark going through a dull bladed buzz saw, he took a hearty drag on his Camel. He spoke softly, but with an unmistakable venom in his voice. He had been an Army Ranger, Navy Seal, Re-Con Marine, CIA Sniper, Black-Ops Specialist, Air Force U-2 Pilot and Apollo 13 alternate. He was the proud owner of 14 Purple Hearts, six Bronze Stars, two Congressional Medals of Honor, one Presidential Freedom Medal,a Pulitzer Prize,and an Oscar. He owned an autographed photo of Richard Nixon in the lobby of the Watergate Hotel, and is the proud holder of a CDL with Tanker, Doubles, Triples and HazMat Endorsements.
To look at him today it would be hard to imagine Donald Rumsfeld tracking him down on September 12, 2001. But, that is exactly what happened. After dropping his loaded flatbed trailer on the scale in Banning, California, he bobtailed to 29 Palms Marine Air Wing Base. His Petro buffet not yet digested he found himself on a Lear Jet without markings, heading into the eye of the storm. He wanted to phone mother but, security issues prevented that. Rumsfeld had assured him that he would visit with his wife and explain the profound importance of her truck driving husbands mission.
On the long flight to Af-Kur-Uzbeck-and-every-other-Stan, he reminisced about his exploits in Cambodia, Thailand, Viet Nam, Korea, Laos, Havana and Turnberry, Scotland. The men on board with him where younger, but, none had seen the action and horror as Mr. Truck Dryvah.
In the best of conditions a man must jump from a plane, all bets are off. As Mr. Truck Dryvah strapped on his parachute he knew there was no turning back. He Halo jumped from 44,000 feet laden with 85 pounds of gear. 34 seconds later he was in Taliban country. Now, the fight was on. Hello, come-in.
As he stealthily made his way towards Tora Bora he thought of his friend Dominick Avallini, back in New York City, an NYPD Captain who lost many colleagues on that tragic day. Mr. Truck Dryvah came to know Captain Avallini while he was volunteering as an NYPD Auxiliary Police Officer, an FDNY Rescue Specialist and a NYC Cab Driver.
For the next two weeks, living on nothing but camel piss, c-rations and goat dung, he tracked his quarry to the darkest, deepest recesses of Tora Bora. He had Osama Bin Laden squarely in his cross hairs. His trigger finger twitched, as sweat rolled off his third chin onto his Dale Earnhart T-shirt, when suddenly his communication linkup with CIA in McClean, Virginia buzzed in his ear. He was fixated on his target, he was looking at the man who had inflicted such harm to his beloved country. He sought justice, perhaps vengeance. The buzzing in his ear became such a annoyance that he was compelled to respond. He keyed the mic implanted in his wrist and heard the unmistakable voice of George Tenet. Mr. Truck Dryvah is a patriot and devoted military man to his core; he keyed up and said “ Hello, Come-in”. Tenet was conflicted. The words he transmitted from 20,000 miles away made Mr. Truck Dryvah cringe. “Chicken House closed. Repeat, Chicken House closed. Abort. Abort. Return to truck stop ASAP”.
This story may seem far-fetched, however, it has been told at lunch counters, driver only booths and CB Channel 19 many, many times by many,many drivers. The only differences in each recounting are the number of teeth, chins, sweat pants and which Apollo Mission they were assigned to. If it were not for the fact that war was raging in Viet Nam, the first words broadcast from the moon would have been, “ Hey earthbound , what you leave behind you? Hello, come-in, how's about local information, come-on”.
The current problems in Iraq could have ended years ago if only certain truck drivers had told their dispatchers that the “Load has to wait, I’m out of hours, I got business elsewhere. Hello, come-in”.
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