On the road again
by Special to the Eagle
Mar 28, 2012 | 1582 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Billy Basenberg of Jasper was recently announced the winner of the Back on the Road Program, a national contest that puts a deserving trucker back to work with a truck, job and a variety of other prizes to keep him on the road. - Photo Special to the Eagle
Billy Basenberg of Jasper was recently announced the winner of the Back on the Road Program, a national contest that puts a deserving trucker back to work with a truck, job and a variety of other prizes to keep him on the road. - Photo Special to the Eagle
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Walker County man was recently named the winner of Arrow Truck Sales’ 5th annual Back on the Road initiative, presented by Mack Trucks Inc. at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.

Mounting medical bills and lack of a steady income stream put Billy Basenberg of Jasper in a position he never thought possible — possibly losing his family home of 17 years. But now, thanks to the Back on the Road program, Basenberg has the opportunity to better support his family through the trade he loves most — trucking.

A veteran of the U.S. Army and a husband and father to four sons, Basenberg started in trucking 20 years ago. His passion for trucking is second only to his family and community.

“My father is the type of person who puts everyone else’s needs in front of his own,” Billy’s son, Jason Basenberg, wrote in his Back on the Road nomination.

Unfortunately in the past several years, family injuries and illnesses have taken Basenberg off the road to care for loved ones when they needed him most.

His wife, Tammie, was in a serious car accident that left her with a debilitating back injury, forcing her to go on disability.

As Basenberg helped navigate Tammie and their four sons through her eight surgeries and therapy to help her learn to walk again, his driving loads grew lighter and their financial burdens grew deeper.

“We’ve been married for 31 years and Billy has never taken a vacation. He has always worked hard to take care of me and our sons,” Tammie said in her Back on the Road nomination. “He is a really good man and will always be the first to help.”

Despite the challenges the Basenbergs faced during this time, they managed to care for a neighbor’s home after she lost her husband of 60 years and welcomed an acquaintance’s son into their family for close to 10 years after his mother feared she couldn’t provide for him.

Years later, Basenberg’s oldest brother, with whom he was very close, fell ill and needed special care. Committed to honoring the brother who cared for him growing up, Basenberg helped his brother live with dignity and care until he passed away — even if it resulted in less time on the road — and, ultimately, losing his truck.

Through all of this, it was Basenberg who served as inspiration for two of his sons who were deployed to Iraq. While deployed, Jason survived a roadside bomb and came home on medical leave.

“When I returned with injuries from Iraq, my father gave me the motivation and courage to get through that difficult time,” Jason said. “Everyone is better for meeting my dad. He is the hardest working, self-sacrificing person I have ever known.”

Steve Clough, president of Arrow Truck Sales, and the selection committee were deeply moved by Basenberg’s strength through the challenges he’s faced over the years.

“Billy’s compassion and resilience through the obstacles he’s faced in life are not only inspiring, but also contagious,” Clough said. “After everything Billy has done for other people — family and strangers alike — we are proud to give him this chance to represent Back on the Road, gain back his family’s livelihood as an owner/operator, and enjoy this opportunity he very much deserves.”

As the 2012 winner of Back on the Road, Basenberg receives a one-year lease on a 2008 MACK Pinnacle High-Rise Sleeper, a one-year work agreement with Heartland Express and other products and services.

Both Basenberg’s wife, Tammie, and son, Jason, were in the audience when his name was announced as the winner in Louisville.