Friday Feb 03, 2023

Kirk Altrichter named CCJ Career Leadership Award recipient – CCJ


CCJ’s Career Leadership Award program, currently in its 46th year, seeks to recognize maintenance professionals in the trucking industry who have demonstrated substantial accomplishment, involvement, leadership and contributions to the truck maintenance profession. It is sponsored by Shell Lubricant Solutions. 

Kirk Altrichter grew up just beyond the shadow of Mack’s truck plant in Macungie, Pennsylvania, but it didn’t occur to him that he’d end up working in the industry. The middle child of an electrician and school teacher, Kirk chose an entirely different career path that led him across the globe, far from his Lancaster, Pennsylvania, home and into some of the most hostile environments of the time.

As a child, Kirk enjoyed camping and spending time in the woods and eventually added team sports like wresting and track to his resume as he worked his way into high school.

He was enrolled in a vocational and technical program, spending half the day in a classroom and half in VoTech training where he focused on electronics and worked on TVs, radios and various household items.

As Kirk rounded the corner on his senior year in 1982, he said he wasn’t quite sure what the future would hold, but he knew one thing for certain: he didn’t want to enroll in college immediately.

“I just wanted out of high school,” he laughed. “The recruiter for the Marine Corps was waiting for me when I got my diploma so that I could hand it to him … and within four weeks of graduation, I was down in Parris Island.”

His brother already a Marine, Kirk said he was drawn to join the ranks of The Few and The Proud because “if you do something, be the best. That was my thought at the time,” he said. “Uniforms looked good, and I didn’t want to sit onboard a ship out at sea. It’s funny though, I wound up spending quite a bit of time at sea – more so than I ever thought I would have.”

After boot camp, Kirk found himself at Fort Sill for Artillery Forward Observer Training, then Little Creek, Virginia, for Naval Gunfire Spotter School, then Camp Lejeune.

“From there it seemed like I was constantly getting deployed,” he said.

Kirk’s tour of active duty took him places like Beirut and Libya, where he was charged with keeping Muammar Gaddafi in check.

“In Beirut, we were getting regularly shot at … I made some (audio) tapes and mailed them home. Mom thinks it’s a message or something, and she starts playing it, and it’s machine guns and artillery rounds going on in the background,” he laughed. “That didn’t go over very well.”

In between the gunfire, Kirk kept his passion for electronics burning by completing the Navy’s electronics program coursework and spending time in the radio room fixing electronics onboard the ship.

After four years active duty and achieving the rank of corporal – and having spent enough time in the Mediterranean that he could lead sight-seeing groups – Kirk transitioned to the Marine Reserves in 1986.

“What I didn’t realize at the time was that every time I turned around, I was going to get called up and shipped off again,” he said, noting stints in Desert Storm, the Philippines and Operation Iraqi Freedom. “I spent a lot of time in Southwest Asia and Europe.”

Being more-or-less stateside – minus the …….


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