Chicken Dinner News
When the character of a person is not clear to you...

By Sandi Soendker
managing editor


An old Japanese proverb says: when the character of a person is not clear to you, look at his friends. In the trucking business, you need to look at his or her truck. It can tell you plenty.

OOIDA member Tim Logan stopped by headquarters right before Christmas. Tim was listening to OOIDA’s Truckers for Troops Telethon on Land Line Now during December and was inspired to stop by to renew his membership and make a $100 donation in person to Host Mark Reddig. Tim is from a military family, and his dad spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy.

For a San Antonio guy, our single-digit temps and icy roads must have been fun. Tim is driving the “Fallen Heroes 2” truck for Freymiller Inc. It’s clearly a job he loves, and he believes his boss “entrusted” him with the special truck. The truck is an eye-popping 2005 Peterbilt 379, and if you’ve seen it you’ll never forget it. The custom upgrade and incredible murals of Arlington Cemetery were designed by the Chrome Shop Mafia.

Freymiller bought the truck from its previous owner, OOIDA member Sean McEndree and his wife, Diane, of Copperas Cove, TX. Sean, incidentally, is a good friend of Tim’s. Tim showed us the new custom hood, and it’s a knockout. The mural is of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, pictured with a flag-draped casket.


OOIDA member Gordy Grove of Langley, WA, said he’s back to business as usual now that he’s delivered his precious cargo – the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree – to the West Lawn of the Capitol in Washington, DC.

Gordy was a featured guest at the special lighting ceremony as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi formally lit the tree. During the same week, Gordy joined up with OOIDA’s DC staff, and they visited some of Gordy’s elected representatives from his home state of Washington.

Gordy made a 4,000-mile journey with the Montana tree, complete with 28 stops, to the U.S. Capitol. He said more than 44,000 people signed the banner on the side of the trailer along the way. This is the second time he was chosen to haul the U.S. Capitol tree. In 2006, he hauled a 65-foot Pacific silver fir tree from his home state of Washington.


OOIDA members Tim Barrett Sr. of Dunlap, TN, and Donald Snare of Gainesville, GA, don’t know each other, but they sure have a lot in common. Both found themselves smack-dab in the middle of the hoopla of the recent presidential inauguration, and not as spectators. Staff writer Clarissa Kell-Holland interviewed both in early January for a pre-inauguration online daily news story.

Barrett hauled the giant LED screen that let spectators view Obama’s swearing-in. Snare hauled the fuselage of an Air Force One replica, which was part of a presidential exhibit on display in DC from Jan. 16 to Jan. 24.

The giant LED screen Barrett hauled to DC was also used at the Olympics in Beijing. It was Barrett’s second trip with the screen. He picked up the specially designed trailer from the Port of Long Beach after it was shipped back following the Olympic Games.


OOIDA member Todd Dailey of Monticello, GA, was announced as the winner of the Chrome Shop Mafia’s “Sweet Freedom” Custom Truck Give-Away on a live broadcast by the Midnight Trucking Radio Network during the holidays.

In early 2008, Midnight Trucking Radio and J.B. Hunt Transport teamed with the Chrome Shop Mafia for the high-profile promotion, awarding a fully customized Freightliner Century Class truck valued at $100,000. It was christened “Sweet Freedom” for its custom stars-and-stripes paint job and bears the name on both sides.

The truck was unveiled in June, embarking on a nationwide tour and gathering entries from class A-licensed drivers. It was at the TravelCenters of America stop in Jackson, GA, that Dailey submitted the winning entry only a few weeks before the random drawing for the truck.

Todd, a former owner-operator, began working as a company driver following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Now that he’s a truck owner again, he plans to make his living with “Sweet Freedom.”


A one-vehicle wreck on Nov. 23, claimed the life of an OOIDA member whose black and red ghost-flamed Peterbilt was recognized as one of the nation’s hottest custom semis.

Jake Eilen, 27, was killed on Minnesota State Highway 50 near his hometown of Hampton, MN. He was driving his pickup. Our deepest condolences to his wife, Anne, and son, Jaden Thomas; parents Julie and Tom; and siblings Pat, Jonathan and Jodie Eilen.

Jake had been an OOIDA member since 2003 and a guy with loads of style. Big rig truck photographer Bette Garber thought so, too – featuring one of Jake’s trucks in the pages of her custom semi books.

Bette, an OOIDA member since 2002, was also a sad loss to the trucking community in 2008. On Page 88, Dave Sweetman pays tribute to her.


And speaking of our regular columnist, longtime OOIDA member and friend Dave Sweetman, now there’s a guy whose truck reveals a lot about of his character. But at press time, that well-appointed and hard-working green KW is parked while Dave deals with the sudden loss of his wife of 17 years.

Laurie Sweetman died suddenly on Jan. 4 from a massive embolism that wreaked irreparable damage to her heart. The Land Line blog that included his message to his readers, fellow members and friends prompted record-setting responses. Today, the condolences and words of encouragement continue to pour in, again proving to all of us (and Dave) the extraordinary connectivity of those blessed to be part of trucking community.  LL