Each year Buchheit stores and divisions join with Wreaths Across America to honor America's fallen service members in wreath-laying ceremonies. This year, 2.4 million wreaths were laid at cemeteries across the country, at sea and abroad.
Since 2015, Buchheit has participated in Wreaths Across America, delivering more than 35,000 wreaths. Each year, drivers donate their time, Buchheit donates wreaths and trucks, and the wreaths are delivered to various veteran cemeteries in the area.
This year Buchheit Logistics and their sponsors, Missouri Great Dane and Cline Wood Insurance Agency, in conjunction with the Buchheit Family Foundation, donated the transportation of two truckloads, approximately 10,000, wreaths.
U.S. Army veteran Michael Black and U.S. Navy veteran David Ayers were chosen to represent Buchheit Logistics in this year's efforts to honor our fallen veterans.
Black, who started working for Buchheit Logistics in May 2019 in the vans division, joined the Army in October 1985. He did his initial training at Fort Bliss, Texas, then spent his remaining years in the Army deployed in Giebelstadt, Germany, which was the previous location of Hitler's secret air base.
Black was assigned to Alpha Battery 843rd ADA under the 32nd Army Air Defense command as a tactile operator with the Patriot missiles operations. He was on the front when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.
In Black's five years he accumulated numerous awards and left the Army in 1990 with the rank E-4. He is not the first in his family to serve his country -- his great-uncles served in World War II. Black also has a son who served in the Navy, a daughter who served in the Army, and a son who is currently serving in the Air Force in Italy.
Ayers, who started working for Buchheit Logistics in April 2019 as a Capital Sand End Dump driver, was the owner of Sandy's Malt Shop in Malden, Missouri, when tragedy struck the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.
Though he never had an interest in serving in the military, Ayers enlisted in the Navy feeling that something had to be done. Ayers trained at Naval Station Great Lakes north of Chicago as a Master At Arms and as a member of the Naval Reserves in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
He was deployed to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, for the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, where he served as port security. Ayers left the Navy in 2005 at the rank of Petty Officer, 2nd Class. Upon returning home he became a deputy for the Butler County Sheriff's Department.
U.S. Army veteran Daniel Sparks made the delivery to the Missouri National Veterans Memorial. Sparks, who has been with Buchheit Logistics since October 2020, is a 12-year veteran and a four-year combat veteran. Sparks has been on two deployments, one with the 101st Airborne and another with 1st Infantry Division in the U.S. Army.
Sparks describes the moment that made him most proud to serve: "I was a private in my first deployment to Iraq. The morale in the platoon was low so my platoon sergeant had us out in formation in an attempt to help us understand our purpose, he told us, 'Look left and look right.' The men that you see, those men are the reason that you are here.
"We all knew the price that we may pay in that deployment, and we all stood ready to die for each other if we had to," said Sparks. "You've probably had somebody tell you they would take a bullet for you. I had the honor of serving with many that proved they would."
The Buchheit family and team believe that freedom is not free. Our freedom was given to us by the many men and women who bravely served our country. The dedication and service of our veterans should never be taken for granted.