Vietnam Veteran Reunited with His Treasured Hat
What do you do when you lose an object that represents who you are?
For Robert Boyle, a driver for Landstar, the answer is to try to figure out where along the middle of the U.S. you might have left your hat, and then when you think it’s gone for good, settle with the idea that you always have the memories.
What’s so important about Robert’s hat? He’s a Vietnam veteran who proudly served his country, and on his hat was the Vietnam Vet pin that was a part of Robert. The helicopter wings were also there, a nod to his army training as a helicopter pilot. Also on the hat was the Landstar Star of Quality Award pin that he got just for being himself. As Robert puts it, “I like helping customers; it’s a natural thing for me to do.” And, “two drivers who I mentored wrote letters to Landstar and I ended up getting a BCO Mentor pin, too.”
Robert had a lot of his life on that hat, and when he realized it was missing, he mentally tried to trace his steps. He says, “It was a tough trip. I pulled out of St. Louis and went to Laredo. My 10-12-hour break was at the TA Henry Albert Truck Stop. I had my truck greased and pulled out about 3 a.m. and then got to Laredo about 8 a.m. The next stop was Houston and then the TA in Greenwood, Louisiana. “I showered, got a sandwich and then headed to St. Louis. The next morning, I reached for my hat and tore the truck apart looking for it. I finally realized I left it somewhere.” Thinking he’d never see the hat again, Robert drove on and thought about how he might be able to duplicate the hat that meant so much to him.
In the meantime, Dean Barnett, GM of the Greenwood TA, spotted the hat and says, “I was in the army for three years. I could appreciate the sentimental value.” Dean took a picture of the hat and sent the photo to Landstar. Connie Kortus at Landstar did some sleuthing and contacted Bill Ater, a Landstar driver, to ask if he was a Vietnam vet. Bill said no, but he was sure he knew who the hat belonged to.
Robert was in Cleveland when the photo of the hat was sent to him. “Like having your firstborn come home again,” is how Robert explains how he felt when he looked at his phone and saw the hat. Once everything was confirmed, Dean wrote a note to send with the hat, along with a TA pin, to Robert’s home.
Our friendly TA network went out of their way to solve the case of the missing hat, and Dean’s looking forward to the dinner Robert’s promised him, the next time he’s in Greenwood.