Anderson Trucking Service helps wounded soldier get home

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Anderson Trucking Service and Veterans Airlift Command recently joined efforts to bring a wounded soldier back home to Minnesota.

In early April 2007, Walter L. Fricke, founder and AirBoss of VAC, contacted John Wojack, chief pilot at ATS. Fricke told Wojack about Sgt. Anthony Larson, a soldier from the St. Cloud area. Larson had spent the past 18 months recovering from injuries he suffered while in Iraq. He finally was going to be released from Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. Fricke needed help from Wojack and ATS to get Larson back home to Minnesota.

Without hesitation, Rollie Anderson, president and chief executive officer of St. Cloud-based ATS, said “yes” when approached about the use of his company’s plane to help Larson get home. “We are delighted and especially honored for the opportunity to support soldiers like Sgt. Larson,” Anderson says. So, Larson’s trip home was planned with VAC, and on April 28, 2007, aboard the ATS corporate jet, he returned home, with his dog and family members by his side, to an illustrious and well-deserved hero’s welcome.

Hundreds of people came out to show their support – 200-plus bikers carrying large American flags, city officials, family, friends and scores of others who simply wanted to express gratitude to Larson for his service and sacrifice. When the ATS BeechJet touched down shortly after 4 p.m., the crowd erupted in cheers and furiously waved their homemade signs and American flags. However, it was when Larson and his dog emerged from the small aircraft that the crowd really went wild.

Bill Woolsey, ATS vice president, was honored to be a part of the group that welcomed Larson back home. “It was a warm, heartfelt event that I wish each veteran had the opportunity to experience – particularly those who’ve suffered wounds in the course of their duty,” Woolsey says. “I was proud to be part of a community that honors and respects its service members, and I was also proud to be part of a company that participates in these types of programs.”

Wojack was modest when it came to the many thanks he received, saying it was Larson and those like him who deserved all the gratitude. “I was so honored to be able to transport a wounded veteran home to the hero’s welcome he’s deserved for such a long time,” Wojack says. “I hope we can do more trips like this and that more and more communities will continue to welcome home soldiers like they deserve.”