ANZAC TRIBUTE: Honour to drive Salute
IT'S a huge honour for JR Stephens and Co driver Matthew Cuttler to be able to drive the Ipswich company's most special truck - the ANZAC tribute named Salute.
The truck, a Kenworth T909, is a tribute to military past and present and all that it stands for - hard work, sacrifice, honour and loyalty.
His grandad served in the 29th Infantry in Papua New Guinea, spending four years with the AIF, while his dad served in the 49th Battalion for 27 years and his father trained horses for battle.
"Getting to drive Salute is a really huge honour to me," Matthew said.
He said the truck always got a huge response out on the road as he drove it around the country on his run carting grain and fertiliser, which took him to Melbourne, up to Emerald and out west to Roma.
"It gets a lot of attention. Mostly people call up on the radio and ask about the paint job and I'll tell them my boss did it up as a tribute to defence.
"But when it's a serviceman or an ex-serviceman, they already know it and have heard about it. One guy in a bottle shop came up to me and said he couldn't believe that someone went to so much trouble to do up the truck as a tribute.
"He had tears in his eyes, he was so appreciative."
JR Stephens is a bulk transport company specialising in waste and recycling transport and is one of the most diversified waste transporter is south east Queensland.
JR Stephens general manager Nathan Stephens said the truck was bought new from Kenworth two years ago and was tricked up as a tribute to the armed forces as he had family in the military.
It was also a nod to Ipswich's history with the forces with the base at Amberley, he said.
"It actually all started with a trip to the States. (I saw) how much passion they have for their military personnel and we tend to focus on it just on ANZAC Day so we wanted something that was a tribute all year round," Mr Stephens said.
He said the name Salute was picked after staff were asked their suggestions for the vehicle.
The truck was painted matte green and black, along the lines of serving miliary trucks.
Matthew said it was a fitting colour scheme and people mistook it for an actual army truck.
"It looks like it's been in a war and it's got lots of k's on it," he said.
Matthew said he loved working for JR Stephens -and in fact, it was the family's kindness that encouraged him back into the industry after he broke his neck in a serious crash a few years back.
"It's a huge commitment driving Salute and I had to talk to my family about it before I made that decision. But I was ready to come back to work and although they didn't want me back on the road, they understood and respected my reasons why I wanted to get back into it.
"I really love it and it's the best job I've ever had. They are a family owned company and they are just the loveliest of people.
"I got out of the industry for a really long time and the Stephens family is the reason I'm back. It means a lot to me, it really does."