Wreaths Across America receives no government funding to support operations. Motivated and dedicated patriots across the country and at locations overseas power the Maine-based nonprofit organization. The mission to remember, honor, and teach is carried out daily by millions of citizens who care deeply for those who have served our nation in the armed forces, and their families. Some of these remarkable individuals are veterans themselves or come from military families while others are driven by a deep sense of patriotism and community service. 

Placing fresh, hand-made balsam remembrance wreaths on the headstones of veterans across the country in December requires tremendous logistics and unyielding support from the trucking industry.

Wreaths Across America shows its gratitude and appreciation for all those involved in transporting America's respect with "Trucking Tributes." These stories will introduce you to the men and women of the industry who make the mission possible.

"I've lost family members and friends serving in the military, so everything we do with Wreaths Across America is near and dear to our hearts."

Mike Eggleton Jr. is the Vice President of Raider Express, a family-owned refrigerated trucking company running two hundred and fifty trucks out of Fort Worth, Texas with additional offices in Hastings, Nebraska.

"I'm a third-generation trucker, "Mike explains. "My grandfather and father owned trucking companies. By the time I was eight years old, I was working in the office, and by twelve I was dispatching trucks. It's all I've ever known."

Following Mike's graduation from Texas Tech University, he started Raider Express where his father would eventually join him as did his brother also after his graduation from Texas Tech in 2001. The rest of the family business story as Mike puts it is, "history from there."

The last ten years of Raider Express's history has involved donating time and company resources to support Wreaths Across America. As many of our drivers and companies share with us, they were brought into the organization mission to remember, honor and teach through the Truckload Carriers Association.

"We have family members who are veterans, and we strongly support any veteran and any U.S. military we have out there. We wouldn't be the country we are today without the sacrifices of the great men and women who are out there every day for us."

While Mike has not personally served in the U.S. Armed Forces, however, his pride and respect for those who have run as deep as his family history of military service. Both of his grandfathers served in World War II, one of whom, David Rankin, was a mechanic for the Enola Gay.  His other grandfather, Richard Eggleton was an infantry soldier in the U.S. Army and received a Purple Heart after taking a grenade the shoulder during combat on Okinawa.

One of Mike's close friends in college was Lt. Darryn Andrews who is now laid to rest in Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. Lt. Andrews was one of six killed in action while serving in Afghanistan in 2009. His military service and death have been highly publicized in connection with the Bowe Bergdahl desertion, and subsequent Taliban prisoner swap news stories.

Mike explains what motivates him, his wife and his company's commitment to the mission.

Volunteers gather around the Raider Express truck in Grafton, WV to get wreaths to place on the headstones of the fallen.

Volunteers gather around the Raider Express truck in Grafton, WV to get wreaths to place on the headstones of the fallen.

"When it comes to Wreaths Across America, we don't do what we do for the applause of men; we do it because of how important it is to the Gold Star families we've connected with over the years."

Mike is a perfect example of how Wreaths Across America teaches younger generations about the sacrifices made for freedom by involving his three young children in the wreath-laying ceremonies.

"Last year the weather was terrible, and the kids were extremely cold with their hair covered in ice," Mike recalls. "They wanted to go home, but as soon as they saw the trucks and the volunteers showing up, they knew they could help too. It was easier to explain the meaning to my young son when he saw people laying the wreaths and saying their names."

Military veterans are valued employees at Raider Express in their offices, and among their professional drivers and according to Mike there's a waiting list within the company for drivers who want to haul America's respect.

"For years we've paid the driver's a week's vacation for doing it because it's out of the realm of what they need to make to help support their families. One of our drivers, Abel Cardona, is a Marine veteran, and this will be his third year participating now, and he forgoes that pay because he feels guilty taking it. Last year he had a student with him, and the student did the same thing because that student was so moved by the Wreaths Across America effort."

Thank you, Mike Eggleon Jr. and Raider Express for your patriotism and tireless support of the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor and teach.

You can hear more from Mike and our other patriots in our "Trucking Tributes" on Wreaths Across America Radio at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM Eastern Monday-Friday.

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