After 34 years of service, former Roadmaster Bob Ward knows railroaders are essential workers.
As he addressed his Maintenance of Way and Engineering brethren at a cookout he sponsored from his own pocket, he told them organizing the event was a way to honor them along with other frontline workers.
“Without you, the country wouldn’t have food on their tables or the clothes on their backs,” he said.
The Sept. 4 cookout was at Building 392.
Ward enjoys returning for visits to the Belt, noting how he misses the camaraderie of being an Engineering team member. This time, the focus was on his colleagues entirely and showing his appreciation for them.
“Railroaders don’t get enough credit,” he said. “As I sat and watched TV and saw folks being praised, I thought, ‘why not my fellow railroaders, too.’ It’s always a good feeling to come back. This railroad will always be in my heart.”
Ward was able to visit with Leo De Leon, a former track inspector who joined the Belt the same day he did: May 1, 1979. Former Trackman Tim Kelly also stopped by. Together, the three railroaders have more than a century of railroad experience.
Ward appreciates the Belt leadership team for supporting the event, including Director of Engineering Track & Structures Scott Schiemann.
Material Handling Operator Edgar Hernandez — who has experience as a professional chef and owned a restaurant — grilled up delicacies during the cookout.
The delightful smells of chicken, steak and shrimp wafted about the grounds outside Building 392 as railroaders waited to combine the meats with handmade guacamole and other fixings.
“I like to see people happy,” he said. “It’s nice to have everyone come by. I’m thankful everyone likes what I cook.”
Hernandez worked with retiree and event sponsor Bob Ward, whom he thanked for his kindness.