Nebraska’s 2021 ‘Truck Driver of the Year’ has hit many milestones and achieved a lot in his 30 years of driving, but he says that none of his well-earned accolades can compare to the feeling of hauling wreaths in honor of America’s fallen veterans.
Raymond “Joe” Brooks Jr., known as “Animal” to other truckers, was named Nebraska Truck Driver of the year in 2021, and has even driven 4 million miles accident and ticket free.
“I don’t really have a boss. As long as I get from point a to point b and no problems… The way I do is I roll down my window when I get in that truck and throw all the stress, anything that’s bothering me right out the window,” Brooks said.
However, Brooks, who is a Marine Corps Vietnam veteran, says that the part of driving he loves the most is being able to honor our fallen heroes by hauling for Wreaths Across America with his trucking company, Hill Bros.
“They know what it is for a veteran. They want to honor them, respect them and be there for them,” Brooks said to ABC 7.
“We definitely hire a lot of veterans. They’re great workers for us. Right now, we have a significant number of them in our driver fleet,” said Robert Sauer, Hill Bros. general manager.
“These drivers, it just means the world to them to have that sense of belonging again, you know, that pride of belonging,” said Jayson Freeman, a Hill Bros. broker.
Brooks says that he feels this sense of belonging when he hauls the wreaths each holiday season. 2021 marks his fourth year transporting the wreaths, and with his retirement looming, it may be his last.
“I’ve got awards, I’ve got all that, that doesn’t mean nothing to me, but that trailer right there doing this is one of the best things that I have been doing,” Brooks said.