NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Mike Dunne wasn’t really into his father’s career because it was a little too restrictive for him. He wanted to spread his wings, so he became an infantryman in the Army for 14 years and later drove a truck hauling battle tanks.
“I’ve never been one good for sitting on my rear end,” Dunne said. “My dad was a business executive all his life and he liked it. I like to travel and see different things. [Trucking] has been enjoyable for me. The Army was fun. I originally started as an infantryman so [I got] into truck driving later in my career.”
From Suffolk, Va., Dunne spent the last three years of his military service hauling tanks in Germany.
“I ran what they called a superhead,” he said. “[It is] the truck that hauls the M1 battle tank. It was 95,000 pounds empty and 251,000 pounds when it was loaded. I ran that thing all over Germany. We could ride down the autobahn loaded. German truckers hated us.”
Dunne has been on the road for 14 years since getting out of the military, but he couldn’t get too far away from his first career. He still hauls for the military, just not directly. He drives for Turner Transport in South Carolina and Dunne said that 85 percent of Turner’s loads are for the military.
He is married with a 5-year-old son and although he enjoys what he does, Dunne said he doesn’t want to see his son getting into trucking.
“Trucking is not going to be the same. It is not as lucrative as it used to be,” he related. “Over the last 10 years, you’ve seen a 300-percent price increase in fuel alone, but you haven’t seen rate changes since 1973. Everybody else has gotten a raise over the years, but we steadily have never changed. Insurance has gone up, tires have gone up. In the last three months, tires have jumped 25 percent.”
Dunne is an owner-operator and said he paid his truck off in three years when he bought it years ago. Today, he said it would take him 10 years to get it paid off because there is no money in trucking anymore. He had an interesting view of the problem.
“Nobody gets control over all the crooks,” Dunne said. “So in a few more years when more of the crooks have gotten more control, what are you going to do? You can’t afford to do it. When you get hold of the crooks, things will get better.”
“There’s trucks out there every day [with] guys running for nothing,” he continued. “How they do it, I don’t know. I’ll sit before I run for nothing. I’ve done it. I’ve sat two weeks in California.”
When he’s not on the road, Dunne does something that his grandmother got him into.
“Play with remote-control cars,” he said almost immediately. “Back in the ’80s, Tamiya was the big remote control car company. They were scaled cars to an extent, but quality cars. There was a guy at a hobby shop in town and he had a Ford Quattro. He let me run it loose in the parking lot and that started it. I’ve been playing with them for 26 years. Normally I carry a couple with me in the truck.”
Although Dunne said that the money isn’t in trucking anymore, he still appreciates being out on the road to enjoy his favorite thing about it, taking in the sights.
“The scenery,” he said. “Just different places. Mainly just getting out and seeing different things. And a lot of places, [you’re] seeing something new in the same place you travel to all the time. I always pick up something different when I’m going.”
Tony Lenahan of The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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