“I come from a military family – my whole family was in the Army. I said if I’m going into the service, I’m going to go above and beyond, and I’m going into the Marines,” said Lieutenant Robert Fralin, Roadrunner Freight IC.
Robert Fralin, raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., was always the odd man out in his family. Coming from an Army family who later became federal workers, it was only expected that Robert would follow suit. However, after returning to civilian life from the Marines in 1986, Robert’s interest in big rigs was piqued when he drove a fire engine as a fire fighter. On his off days from firefighting, he started driving 18 wheelers working for Owner Operators. Now, an Owner Operator himself, Robert has been driving with Roadrunner Freight since 2014.
Joining ‘The Few, The Proud’
Before graduating high school, Robert’s father wanted to ensure Robert was proactive about finding a job upon graduation. He encouraged Robert to go downtown and apply for government positions. Robert agreed, and found his way downtown applying for job positions, but the career path he ended up with was above and beyond his family’s expectations.
“I told my family, well, I got a job!” Robert Fralin said.
He recalls walking into the Marines recruiting office with his friend, and they said they wanted to enlist.
“It turns out, the recruiters there were former drill sergeants. They took us to a room and just yelled at us to see if we could take it.”
Thrilled at the experience, Robert was eager to be disciplined and become a Marine. His family agreed to enroll him in the Delayed Entry Program, since Robert applied at age 17. Immediately after crossing the stage at high school graduation, Robert was off to bootcamp.
“When you get to Parris Island, they tell you there’s only two ways off this island – as a Marine, or in a pine box.”
Forming Day 1, also known as the first day of bootcamp, he marched over to his battalion – First Battalion A Company Platoon 1026. It was in the barracks he was taught about how to be speak like a respectable Marine – never say “I” or “me.”
“You realize when you come in that you’re selfish, and the Marines cut that right out of you,” Robert said.
Following bootcamp, he went to Camp Lejeune, NC for infantry training where his unit was on alert for possible deployment after the bombing of the Marine Corp Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.
Later he was reassigned to the Headquarters Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion at the Marine Corp. Development and Education Command in Quantico, VA where he served as an IBM OS System 360 Computer Operator.
“There’s nothing like driving that big rig!”
After Robert was honorably discharged, he headed back to civilian life where he was a professional fire fighter for Prince George’s County Fire Department, and little did he know his career as an Owner Operator would be next in line.
“Being in the fire department, I drove the fire engine. There’s nothing like driving that big rig!” he stated.
While working at the fire department, he worked 24 hours on and had 72 hours off. Down the road from the fire station, a company was hiring firefighters to drive locally on their days off. After getting his CDL-A, he started driving locally from DC to Jersey and even the Carolinas.
“After that, I jumped on the open road and started seeing the countryside. Traveling from the East coast to the West coast is so amazing to me,” he said.
“Seeing New Mexico, mountains and seeing God’s creations – I marveled at seeing California,” he added.
Being a Veteran and Owner Operator
“As veterans, we have been through the military, and regardless of what branch, you’ve been regimented, and you pay attention to detail. In the Marines, you couldn’t have a piece of thread on your clothing, or it’d get you in trouble.”
Along with other strict directives, the Marines helped shape Robert into a successful Owner Operator.
“Veterans are regimented, and being a truck driver, you should be disciplined. Before I get in the truck, I do my Pre-trip, plan my trip, map out where I’ll stop for fuel, and I don’t stop until I get to where I’m going.”
Having respect for the customer experience is a big responsibility an Owner Operator has and having a military background has shaped the way Robert delivers service to customers.
“Customers pay for their stuff to be delivered on time and having the discipline to make that happen comes from the military. I move like clockwork, that way I don’t forget something.”
For information about driving with Roadrunner Freight, visit https://bit.ly/3jQS4OG.