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Freedom Convoy

Gillette Trucker Dies in February; Heartbroken Spouse Donates His Gear to Trucker In Need

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Floyd Hermes would have been proud of the truckers in the “People’s Convoy.” 

Floyd Hermes was a trucker right up until his death last month. He parked his truck for the last time on Feb. 10. Two days later, he died.

He didn’t know that would be his last day, his wife Corinne said. Floyd died just shy of his 70th birthday and their 30th wedding anniversary.

Heartbroken, Corinne wanted to do something in Floyd’s honor and took a couple of his reflector coats, pants, boots, some candy and a few odds and ends that he’d always found handy to carry in his big rig and dropped them off at Bears Dry Cleaners in Gillette, where donations for the truckers in the “People’s Convoy” were being dropped off.

It was her hope that one of the big rig drivers in the convoy might be able to keep her husband on the road, in a sense.

“My husband was still driving until 2-10-22,” she wrote in a note attached to the gear. “He died 2-12-2022. He is proud of you. Keep trucking.”

She asked simply that the gear be given to a trucker who needed it.

“I was so glad to take some things down and keep him on the road,” Corinne said Friday, one day after the convoy had stopped at the Cam-Plex in Gillette, where truckers were greeted by hundreds of people who gifted the truckers with a barbecue, gift cards and bags of homemade goods and other provisions.

Floyd and Corrine Hermes

Heart-Felt Gift

Corinne’s heart-felt gesture struck a chord with Gillette resident Melissa Stephens, who had received the donation. She and 16-year-old Grady Younkin were both volunteering at Cam-Plex Thursday, helping pass out provisions and find a new owner for Floyd’s gear.

“Imagine what this coat meant to her,” Stephens said with tears in her eyes. 

Stephens herself comes from a trucking family and has her own a commercial driver’s license. She knows the long hours truckers put in and how hard they work, she said, and they hold a special place in her heart. Corinne’s gift was more precious to Stephens than any donation she could think of passing along.

Grady agreed to help and took it upon himself to find a trucker who could use Floyd’s gear. He weaved through the crowds, yelling up into open windows and asking guys standing in front of trucks if they knew anyone who needed a reflective coat and the other equipment.

One guy did. He pointed to Las Vegas trucker Steven Phillips who was standing outside of his purple semi-truck. Phillips could definitely use the stuff, he said. 

Phillips had jumped into the convoy in Washington but could only go as far as Wisconsin, he said, because he was technically still on duty. But his boss let him take the slight detour as long as he delivered his refrigerated goods on time.

Driving in the convoy was pretty indescribable he said, and Floyd’s gift added a whole new level.

With his hand over his heart, Phillips struggled to find the words to describe what it meant to be the recipient of such a thoughtful gift.

“It means a lot to have him riding in the seat next to me,” he said. “I’ll do him proud.”

Keep On Trucking

Corinne wasn’t there on Thursday to meet Phillips or the other truckers, but appreciated hearing that Floyd’s gear was in good hands.

“He was my husband for 30 years,” she said. “Thank the young man from Vegas for his reply, and I’m praying for safety for this convoy. God’s speed.”

Floyd is smiling down from heaven, Corinne said.

“We both have so much respect for truckers and those out on the road,” she said.

Floyd Hermes

Corinne talked about Floyd’s own history as a truck driver. He drove all sorts of trucks, had all the endorsements and drove in Wyoming and all over the West. He hated doing over-the-road hauls, she said, and so she tried to make his rig as homey as possible.

“It didn’t work,” she said. “He missed being home.”

In later years, Floyd slowed down and was tired of “white-knuckling” it Wyoming winters and had even recently talked about retiring. He’d had some health troubles in the past six or seven years that made it impossible to truck for long distances, so he stuck to local routes in Campbell and neighboring counties.

In all of his years of driving, he never had an accident, Corinne said. In fact, he took safety so seriously that she could pass him in town, honking and waving, and his eyes would never deviate from the road in front of him.

Corinne met Floyd at a mall in Billings, Montana. She had been in the food court having lunch at a table with friends when Floyd pulled up a chair and started talking to them like he knew them forever.

Having moved to Gillette from Chicago, Corinne was still getting used to that laid-back “cowboy way of talking.”

“Floyd came over and talked to us like he knew us all his life,” she said.

He’d grown up in Montana and had been a rodeo clown, traveling the West to perform in various rodeos. When Corrine met him, Floyd was building pole barns. He told Corinne he’d look her up when he came to town. 

At that point, Corinne was 43 years old and had been alone for 20 years. She certainly wasn’t planning ever to get married again, she said.

But that was before she met Floyd.

“He was a good-looking cowboy,” she said. “So, laid back and storytelling.”

It was the second marriage for both.

Her two boys – both city kids – always tried and failed to put one over on him, Corinne laughed, and together they all had a great life.

He wasn’t supposed to die, she said. She had been on her way to take him home from the hospital.

“But he was such a good man and I know he’s in heaven,” Corinne said. “I was pretty proud of the guy, and I’ll miss him for the rest of my life.”

She takes solace in thinking about a piece of him out there on the road still traveling the country doing what he loved.

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I-90 Wyoming: Hundreds Turn Out In Gillette To Send Message Of Freedom At ‘People’s Convoy’

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

An American flag snapped in the breeze on the back of Kenneth Durn’s wheelchair as the long line of semi-trucks creeped by the cheering crowds at Gillette’s Cam-Plex on Thursday. 

Durn was one of hundreds of spectators who turned out to greet one leg of the nationwide “People’s Convoy” traveling from all over the country to meet in the nation’s capital this weekend to protest for an end to all COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates.

But for Durn, it’s much more than vaccine or other mandates. He sees it as a much-needed call for freedom against what he considers to be tyranny on the part of the government and those in power. The truckers, for Durn, embody this movement.

“These are our soldiers in that fight, right here and right now,” he said.

He wouldn’t have missed this for the world, he said, and his companion Tammy Burke agreed.

“We just want our country back again,” she said. “We want the mandates to be gone and to be able to see family again. That’s why we’re here. To show our support for the truckers who are standing up for us and taking the fight to Washington.”

Those sentiments were shared by many from all over the state who converged in Gillette to show the truckers a little Wyoming hospitality. 

Activities that day went beyond banners and flags along the highway and cheers from overpasses as hundreds of residents and several business owners staged a stop to pass out gas and gift cards, homemade baked goods, pallets full of provisions and complimentary burgers and brats cooked by Pokey’s BBQ and 307 BBQ.

Pokey’s owner Ric Schuyler said typically he steers clear of getting roped into “political stuff” out of fear of alienating customers, but made an exception in this case because he saw the event as a pro-America statement that everyone could get behind.

“There’s so much bad stuff going on, and it’s ruining America,” Schuyler said, ticking off a list of events in the last two years where he sees the country going downhill, from the Afghanistan withdrawal to critical race theory and other issues.

“This is America, you know, and this is Americans coming together,” he said. “I don’t care what flavor you are because everyone has the right to be who they want to be.”

Schuyler’s sentiments were repeated by many who saw this not as a partisan issue but rather an opportunity to join together under a common flag, a message that clearly resonated with the hundreds of people who turned out and the various groups which coordinated the event Thursday.

The turnout defied even the truckers’ expectations.

One trucker from Montana walked through the crowds with a burger in his hand, thanking everyone for the hospitality that he said so far has been unbeaten at any of their stops along the northern leg of the convoy.

“You people really know how to make a guy feel welcome,” he said to several residents who stopped to greet him and hand him various bags of candy, snacks and $100 gift cards. “This is the most support we’ve seen yet.”

The event was organized by groups in Sheridan, Casper and Gillette who coordinated their efforts with the help of Brandon Younkin, owner of Dump Truck Services.

Younkin was helped by his 16-year-old son Grady in working with Cam-Plex and other businesses like Powder River Construction that brought in the cranes holding up the massive American flag in the parking lot.

Bridging the Divide

Bar Nunn resident Laura Redmond, one of the organizers and founder of the Facebook page “Freedom Convoy – Wyoming Group,” coordinated with local volunteer Patty Junek and her group to bring her pickup truck full of donated homemade goods from dozens of Casper residents. She also worked with her five children to set out for display the handmade cards her family had made for the truckers.

Redmond, a photographer and wife of a trucker, saw supporting the nationwide convoy as an opportunity to show her children the importance of freedom as well as bridging the gap in what she sees as a vicious partisan divide.

She said she was amazed by how many people responded to her Facebook page, asking what they could do to help.

“I put out a call to the people of Wyoming, and they responded,” she said, pointing to plastic crates full of homemade cinnamon rolls, banana and pumpkin bread, cookies and more donated for the truckers.

Apart from her rallying call for freedom, Redmond’s intention was to teach her children that it’s OK to have varying opinions and tolerance for other points of views.

“I’ve watched friends and family stop talking to each other over a difference of opinion,” she said. “It has hurt my heart. Everyone should be able to have an opinion. We used to say agree to disagree. Now people are blasted if you don’t have the same opinion as they do.”

Redmond’s 24-year-old daughter, Liz Bowers, likewise talked about the divides driving the country apart.

“I care deeply for the future of this country,” she said. “I think it’s been really sad how far apart everybody has come in the last couple of years. It’s been really heartbreaking. 

“We might not agree with political parties and candidates, but I think we can agree that most people are decent and want their kids to grow up in a country that’s peaceful and where they can be successful,” she continued.

Junek also spoke about her support of truckers and the country, as well as for election integrity and a call for constitutional conservatism.

“I pray for people who are truly Republicans to rise up and for us to replace the pretenders,” she said.

A group of women and children from Sheridan echoed calls for freedom and for making sure parents having control of their children’s health and education. They had collected several pickup loads of supplies they were getting ready to hand the truckers. 

Group member Tiffany Leimback has taken on the Sheridan School Board over the mask mandate that ended with she and her group of friends pulling their children out of school to homeschool them.

Leimback also spoke of the need to protect freedom regardless of one’s political affiliation. She saw optimism in the large crowds who had come together that day to support a shared love of country and push back on government overreach as represented by the national convoy.

“I think it’s so cool that so many Americans are coming together and just saying ‘Hey, we’re done,’” she said. “This is us saying what the government is doing is not right, and we’re here to cheer them on.”

Message of Peace and Love

Casper resident 38-year-old Jason Lewis, had an armful of tattoos representing his love of God and the country.

“It’s right here,” he said, gesturing to the red, white and blue flag and other symbols and words covering his arms. 

Lewis and a couple friends had spent the last few weeks gathering pallets filled with dry supplies like baby wipes, toilet paper, water and other necessities for truckers on the road.

“I love my country, I love every American,” he said. “I don’t really care what the situation is. I think we all honestly just need to come together and shake each other’s hands. Give each other a hug. And let’s get on with it.”

Several Gillette residents like Dale Murschel were all smiles as they talked about how excited they were to be part of the celebration. Murschel and his wife Roxi and granddaughter Kira handed over a cash donation to help the truckers.

In total, the community raised $15,000 for the truckers along with the piles of provisions, gift cards and free food and drinks.

Gillette resident Rod Coulter handed over a cash donation as his sequined red, white and blue hat glittered in the afternoon sun. He’d bought the cap from a street vendor on a trip to New Orleans and said he likes any opportunity to don the hat despite its weight.

He’s a constitutional Libertarian and veteran who was there that day to celebrate the country he loves, he said. He would like to see the nation regain a semblance of the moral recognition and fortitude that he has seen “sliding down the banister” since the end of World War II.

“When we were young, it was still a country,” he said, bemoaning the lack of involvement by the average citizen while expressing a desire for better moral ethics.

He would also like to see people working harder. He also praised the bravery of the Ukrainian people who are literally fighting for their lives to save their country and freedom.

Being here today among the throng of flag waving patriots brought a bit of that pride back to him, he said, and he was happy to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with other Wyoming residents who felt the same way he did.

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Interstate 80 Leg Of Peoples’ Convoy Rolls Through Cheyenne

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Freedom Convoy Rally in Cheyenne, Wyoming on March 3, 2022.

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily
Photos by Matthew Idler

In a scene reminiscent of the 1976 movie “Convoy,” hundreds of semi-trucks rolled through Cheyenne on Thursday as part of the “People’s Convoy” on its way to Washington, D.C.

However, truck drivers weren’t trying to elude law enforcement officers as they were in the movie, instead, they were greeted by scores of flag-waving supporters outside the Flying J Truck Stop south of Cheyenne who showed up to support the “peaceful and unified transcontinental movement of truck drivers” to protest mandates related to the Covid pandemic and other restrictions.

Also in contrast to the movie, there were not miles-long strings of truckers. The convoy’s traffic was a bit more sporadic, with groups of six or seven trucks at a time pulling through the truck stop’s parking lot.

To spectators, it was a wonderful sight. 

Ray Angel with his dog Allesia at The Freedom Convoy Rally in Cheyenne, Wyoming on March 3, 2022.

Cheyenne resident Ray Angel, flanked by his pit bull Allesia, attended with the rally with his wife Amanda, who baked more than 700 cookies for the truckers.

She did it, he said, to thank the truckers for standing up for liberty.

“Our freedoms are being taken away little by little,” Angel said. “If we don’t stand up to mandates, we’ll forget what we had.”

Others echoed what Angel said. This protest was about liberty and freedom — not just the mask mandates.

That was evidenced by the signs people were waving. Only a few of them referenced COVID and most expressed either support for truckers or contained general messages supporting freedom.

Ray and Joan Glebach attend Freedom Convoy Rally in Cheyenne, Wyoming on March 3, 2022.

Ray and Joan Glebach, a couple who drove up from Fort Collins, said the message of the convoy extended far beyond mask mandates. This was about protesting what America is turning into, they said.

“We’re very disappointed in what our country has become,” Joan Glebach said. “We’ve moved away from freedom.”

Ray Glebach expressed surprise to find Wyoming media covering the event because, he said, he couldn’t find any news coverage of the event anywhere else.

He said the only issue the media is covering is the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as opposed to “real American news.”

“All they do is talk about Russia – Ukraine, Russia – Ukraine,” he said. “Or what a wonderful job Joe Biden is doing.”

He said he’s “sick” of hearing about Biden’s “State of the Union” speech, calling the president’s list of accomplishments “zero” and Biden’s plan for the future “zero.”

“What’s happening with this convoy in Cheyenne right now is the real America talking,” Joan said. “Right here, right now. This is real America.”

Craig Koon (left) attends The Freedom Convoy Rally in Cheyenne, Wyoming on March 3, 2022.

Another Colorado resident, Craig Koon from Longmont, said he took the day off to travel north to support the truckers.

He too said the convoy was much more than a Covid-related protest. He had plenty of blame for President Biden as well.

“The first thing Biden did when he took office was cancel the Keystone pipeline,” Koon said. “He killed our energy production and, as a result, he’s hurting the American people.”

“See those gas prices over there?” he said, pointing to the $4.39 a gallon sign for diesel, “That’s all Joe Biden’s fault. That is 100% on Joe Biden.”

Koon said he would prefer to live in Wyoming but “couldn’t stand the weather.”

This is one of several convoys canvassing the nation. The different convoys are to join up in Washington, D.C.

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Gillette Prepares For Arrival of National “People’s Convoy”

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Four women in Gillette who are fed up with what they see as government overreach and direct assaults on freedom are taking part in the “People’s Convoy,” a group of trucks traveling through Gillette on Thursday on the way to Washington, D.C.

Priscilla Hixson, Kelley Boltin, Patty Junek and Suzie Curtin got together Saturday to make posters encouraging participants in the convoy, a self-described grassroots campaign involving truckers and people of all professions traveling to Washington to seek an end to mandates issued in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The convoy’s organizers plan to converge on Washington from different parts of the country on March 1 for President Joe Biden’s “State of the Union” address.

According to Hixson, it was Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to invoke martial law in Canada two weeks ago to shut down the “Freedom Convoy” in that country that prompted her to support the similar convoy that has surfaced in the U.S. within the last two weeks.

The women met for the second Saturday in a row to make the signs to show support for the leg of the convoy participants traveling on various routes from all regions of the country. In addition to the convoy stopping at the Cam-plex and CBH Co-op in Gillette, another group will stop at Little America in Cheyenne.

The signs made from poster boards adorned with large letters express pro-trucker sentiments and a rallying call for freedom and First Amendment rights. The women plan to hang the signs from the overpass along 1-90 though Gillette, Boltin said.

“It’s about our freedoms,” she said. “These mandates have been so unconstitutional, and people are standing up and saying enough is enough.”

Junek, whose poster read “God [Hearts]Truckers,” expressed her support for the men and women who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep supplies running across the country, as well as the importance of standing up for freedom.

The four women are not the only Wyoming residents showing support for the convoy.

Casper resident Laura Redmond is organizing groups throughout the state to deliver handmade baked goods and homemade cards to the truckers on her “Freedom Convoy – Wyoming” Facebook page, which also includes information about specific times, dates and locations that the convoy will be stopping in the state. 

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Retired 73-Year-Old Sheridan Teacher To Join National “Freedom Convoy”

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

There was something about watching Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoke martial law last week to shut down the “Freedom Convoy” of truckers that hit a nerve with Kerry Eblen.  

The fact that people didn’t stand up to oppose the measure she considered “draconian” struck the 73-year-old retired Sheridan teacher as sad and just plain “spooky.”

Call her old-fashioned, Eblen said, but as a Baby Boomer with a dad who served as a U.S. Marine in WWII, patriotism, freedom and pride in one’s country mean something to her. 

She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do about it, she said, but she sure as heck didn’t want to sit around complacently watching as the same thing potentially happened in her own country.

After hearing truckers were organizing a similar “Freedom Convoy” in the United States with a planned stop in Wyoming on March 3, Eblen spent the weekend mucking out her live-in horse trailer and loading it with generators, batteries, tools and her electric bike.

“I’m all set and ready to roll,” she told Cowboy State Daily Wednesday. 

Now retired from the Wyoming Girls School, Elben works part-time as a car detailer in Sheridan. She wasn’t quite sure how her young, millennial boss was going to respond to her request for time off, Eblen said, but as it turns out, she had no trouble giving her two to three weeks off to join the convoy. 

Eblen has no idea what to expect as she joins the convoy traveling to Washington, D.C., but is eager to meet up with other like-minded people and share in the solidarity of celebrating freedoms and pushing back on government overreach.

Great Again

She used to be so proud of her country and government as a young girl and has slowly watched money and authority erode the ethical and truthful administrations starting with the Clintons and stretching through to the current administration, she said. 

“What I see now versus when I was younger makes me sad,” she said. “I don’t want to feel that way. I want to celebrate our country and freedoms and see America become great again.”

This is not a partisan issue, she stressed. In fact, she’s sick of the divisiveness on both sides of the aisle and just wants the country to come together under one flag, its residents listening to one another again.

“This is who we are and who we want America to be great again,” she said. “We want to come together again. Can we just to talk to each other? Not argue. Not fight. Just talk.” 

Appreciate Home

Eblen has traveled extensively as a volunteer in third-world countries and sees the other side, particularly in post-communist nations where she experienced a “metaphorical darkness” that made her appreciate the life and freedoms back home, she said.

She is not afraid to be a woman traveling alone in the convoy, she said. In fact, if anything, she feels safe knowing she’s traveling in the company of military people who saw the same things that she did and understand what’s at stake if America’s freedoms are lost.

“I feel safe and united in all these people coming together for a common cause,” she said. “This is a convoy for freedom. Not just for truckers but for everyone to come together.”

She’s also just bought $200 worth of nickels that she plans to laminate and pass out to others in hopes of galvanizing the recipients around the phrase “In God We Trust.”

“People can believe it or not,” she said, “but I just want to pass them out as a reminder.”

Eblen will be joining up with truckers and drivers in Gillette on March 3. She estimated it’s going to cost about $1,000 in gas to get to Washington, D.C., and another $1,000 to get home again. She has no idea how long she might be gone but has asked her neighbor to care for her horses.

National Movement

Truckers from all over the country are already on their way to convene in Washington, D.C. on March 5 for President Joe Biden’s “State of the Union” address.

On Feb. 21, convoy organizer and Maryland gubernatorial candidate Kyle Sefcik, issued a video statement to President Biden, reiterating that the “Freedom Convoy” will be a peaceful and transparent protest to ask him to end the state of emergency stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, along with all the mandates related to it.

“We just want government overreach to end on behalf of the Freedom Convoy,” Sefcik said. “Sir, the whole world is watching us because they know what’s happening in Canada happens to us here in the land of freedom, freedom as we know it is gone.”

He reiterated it will be a peaceful protest to object to the failures of the government to work for its people.

“You see, the government and our elected officials of both parties have failed us tremendously these last two years, and now it’s time for us, we, the people, to fix this.”

In advance, the Pentagon has approved requests by the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and U.S. Capitol Police for assistance from the National Guard to help with the demonstrations.

Details about the different routes being taken by truckers from different parts of the country are being revealed as the convoy progresses, Elben said, and she and others are not privy to where the truckers will finally meet up in the nation’s capital. 

She also has no idea of how many people – if any – will be joining her from Sheridan or Wyoming. She’s ready to go with the flow and has stocked her refrigerator with plenty of ramen noodles, chips, water, coffee and beer.

Now, she’s just trying to figure out just where to put the extra gas cans. 

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