By: H. TRUMAN CHAFIN
November 12, 2012
NORFOLK, Va. - Norfolk Southern (NS) has placed their one-of-a-kind “Veterans Tribute Locomotive” into freight service on its system to honor people who have served in the military and reserves, especially those employed by the railroad.
Engine No. 6920 is a SD60E model that will operate primarily in general freight service. Its red, white, and blue paint scheme and yellow ribbon bearing the message “Honoring our Veterans,” was selected by a group of 18 NS employees, representing all branches of the armed forces.
“At Norfolk Southern, we are very grateful for the service of our railroaders, their families, and all veterans,” said NS CEO Wick Moorman. “The Veterans Locomotive is a rolling reminder of their contributions and sacrifice in the name of freedom.”
The first unveiling that took place on Nov. 8 was at NS’ shops in Altoona, Pa., where the unit was built and painted. NS General Foreman Tim Strickenberger, a former U.S. Air Force staff sergeant who served as an F-16 aircraft mechanic during U.S. operations in the Middle East and Trainmaster Calvin Law, a 26-year U.S. Navy veteran who served as a Lieutenant Commander during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, spoke about their military and railroad experiences. Keynote speaker was Col. Grey Berrier II, Deputy Commander, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.
The second unveiling, at NS’ Lamberts Point coal trans-load facility in the railroad’s headquarters city of Norfolk, Va., was on Veteran’s Day. Chris Carter, NS conductor and Chief Warrant Officer, Virginia Army National Guard, addressed the guests about his military and railroad experience. CEO Moorman highlighted NS’ desire to attract even more veterans into railroad careers. Keynote speaker was Col. William J. Davis, U.S. Marine Corps (retired), who serves as the Director of the MacArthur Memorial and Executive Director of the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation.
Painting the Veterans Locomotive involved 26 NS employees, two of whom are veterans, using 66 gallons of primer and paint over a 112-hour period. To the extent possible, Locomotive No. 6920 was kept under wraps while the work progressed.
With its non-traditional paint scheme, the locomotive joins NS’ Heritage Fleet of 20 locomotives that were painted in the schemes of key predecessor railroad companies earlier this year in observance of NS’ 30th anniversary.
Over the last 6 years, NS has been proud to have employed over 1,300 veterans, and presently, officials say that 14 percent of their total workforce, which equals more than 4,200 employees, are veterans and members of the National Guard and Reserves.