Copyright 2003, Traffic World, Inc.

Twice before I have written about the transportation and logistics industry's huge contributions to the United States military and the people it protects. The industry's employees are overrepresented among members of the National Guard and Reserves who have been called up for action for the Balkans war, homeland security, the invasion of Afghanistan and now the war in Iraq.

Many of the companies that employ these brave men and women support them and help protect the nation by supplementing their military pay and benefits when they are called up for active duty.

In Afghanistan, Army National Guard and other reserve and guard units have been deployed to continue the battle against the al Qaeda terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. One of the soldiers serving there last month was Sgt. 1st Class Scott Barkalow.

When he is in civilian clothes, Barkalow is a locomotive engineer for CSX based in Nashville, Tenn. On Feb. 19, the vehicle he was riding in triggered a mine. The explosion severely injured him and his leg was amputated. Today Barkalow is recuperating in Walter Reed Army Medical Center here in Washington.

Another family paying a high price to keep our nation strong is that of CSX trainman Ronald D. Young Sr. and his wife Kaye. Their son, Chief Warrant Officer Ronald D. Young Jr., is one of two U.S. Army Apache Longbow helicopter crew members held by Iraq as prisoners of war. The helicopter that Young and Chief Warrant Officer David S. Williams were flying was forced down during a firefight near Karbala a week ago.

"We want to support you and your family because your son is supporting us in the cause of freedom," CSX Chairman Michael Ward said in a phone call to Ronald Young Sr. in Lithia Springs, Ga.

The United Transportation Union also saluted the Young family and placed a photograph of the 26-year-old pilot on its website. "Our hearts go out to Brother Young and the entire Young family and our prayers will ask for the safe return of Ron Young Jr., an American hero," said UTU President Byron A. Boyd Jr.

If you would like to send a word of encouragement to Sgt. Barkalow and the Young family, write to them in care of CSX Corporate Communications, J420, 500 Water St., Jacksonville, Fla., 32202.

What can you do to support all U.S. troops overseas? One way is to join the American Road and Transportation Builders Association's campaign to encourage contributions to the USO. For a $25 donation, the nonprofit United Services Organization will send an "Operation USO Care Package" to a service member overseas. The package contains items most requested by the military, including telephone calling cards, disposable cameras, toiletries and sunscreen. Send donations to USO, P.O. Box 70264, Washington, D.C., 20024.

Traffic World and Commonwealth Business Media salute all members of our military, here and abroad, and pray for their safe return to their families.