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The Extra Mile

People of Yellow

“Best Man for that Job”: Yellow Manager Honored for Military Service

The Yellow Team | Feb. 13, 2023

    U.S. Army combat uniform.

    Martin Pond recently received the Order of Saint Michael for his 28-year career in the U.S. Army National Guard.


    As Distribution Center Manager for Yellow’s Memphis, Tenn. Terminal #431, Martin Pond leads with the confidence of someone who has been in the trucking industry for over three decades and served in the military for nearly as long. 


    Which is why he chuckled when recently reflecting on a rare moment of uncertainty during his career with the U.S. Army National Guard. 


    In 2010, Pond had the opportunity to deploy to Iraq as a battalion commander in the U.S. Army’s 1-147th Aviation Regiment. He wasn’t sure if he wanted the assignment. 


    He had served in the Army National Guard since 1983, a career that included deployments to Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq. He was reluctant to leave his wife and two young sons for another overseas tour. 


    Pond’s youngest son, then 11 years old, set him straight.


    “He told me, ‘Dad, you’re the best man for that job. And if you don’t interview for that job, I’m going to be ashamed of you for the rest of my life.’”  


    Pond followed orders. He deployed in support of Operation New Dawn, returning home in 2011. 


    Though he retired from the Guard in 2012, Pond draws from his military experience every day in his current role at Yellow.


    “In the Army, you’re not considered a manager, you’re considered a leader,” he said. “That’s how I have approached my work in transportation.”  


    A Lifetime Achievement


    A few months ago, Pond got a call from one of his soldiers in the Wisconsin National Guard, Lt. Col. Dan Allen, inviting him to a special dinner in Oshkosh, Wisc.


    “I told him, ‘No thanks, I’ve got family and work obligations.’” Pond said. “He said he wanted to present me with an award.  I told him I didn’t deserve it.  He told me his story of how I impacted him, and many other leaders in the Wisconsin Guard, and so I grudgingly agreed.”


    More than 120 soldiers and their families attended the Jan. 21 dinner at the Experimental Aircraft Museum in Oshkosh, during which Pond and three other veterans received the Order of Saint Michael. Named for the Biblical archangel who wages war against evil, the Order of Saint Michael “recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to the promotion of Army Aviation in ways that stand out in the eyes of the recipient's seniors, subordinates and peers.”


    For Pond, the dinner was a chance to catch up and trade old stories with the soldiers who served under him during a career that began when he was an ROTC student at the University of Massachusetts. As a reserve with the Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Indiana and Wisconsin National Guards, Pond led platoons and battalions. He clocked more than 2,000 hours while earning the Master Aviator wings and flying every helicopter in the Army inventory.  


    “It’s a great honor to receive the Order of Saint Michael,” he said. “My brother, who flew helicopters in Vietnam and retired as a colonel, also received it. Usually, it’s for a significant event or a lifetime achievement. They don’t give it out lightly.”

    Yellow Distribution Center Manager Martin Pond is a recent honoree of the Order of Saint Michael.

    Coming Home to Yellow


    In addition to his military service, Pond has enjoyed a long career in trucking and transportation that included 22 years with Yellow from 1989 to 2012. In 2021, he returned to Yellow to lead the Memphis terminal. 


    Pond said he was lured back by Yellow’s transformation into a super-regional LTL carrier. He takes to heart the directive to Operations that everyone is empowered and obligated to move every shipment, every shift, in-cycle, every day. For his team, that doesn’t mean overwork, but it does mean working hard and always striving to do better. 


    “We’re staying in-cycle and doing whatever the customer needs us to do,” he said. “We still need to improve productivity, but we’ve come a long way.”


    Pond said working for Roadway and Yellow were among the best years of his career. After hearing Yellow SVP of DC Operations William Gordon speak about Yellow’s vision for the future, he jumped at the chance to sign up. 


    “I said, ‘That’s what I want to do. This is the place to be,’” he said. 

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