As you may have seen, there are “Prisoners of War” stickers on the back of every Mesilla Valley Transportation trailer. Why is that? According to MVT’s CEO & President, Royal Jones, it’s a tradition that lives close to his heart.
In the early 1980s, Royal and his business partner Jimmy Ray started MVT with only three drivers. One of those drivers was Billy Elkins, a Vietnam veteran. During his time working for Jones, Billy would tell him about prisoners of war and how everyone seemed to forget about them. This topic is near and dear to Jones’ heart since his stepfather, Jim McCahon, happened to be a prisoner of war where he was held captive for 42 months.
During the early stages of World War II, McCahon was a part of the Bataan Death March, where the Japanese military forcefully marched thousands of soldiers 65 miles through the jungles of the Philippians. Those soldiers were later called prisoners of war. Today, the Army ROTC Department at New Mexico State University has sponsored the annual Bataan Memorial Death March since 1989, where several MVT employees march every year.
In 1983, Billy expressed to Royal how he wanted to walk to Washing D.C. with a friend of his and a POW flag in hand, in honor of all the soldiers who were taken prisoner. Since he was going to be away for a while, Billy asked Royal if he could pay his car note and his house payment. Taken aback, Royal thought about it for a while, but after thinking about the importance of this walk, Royal ultimately agreed to pay Billy’s bills while he was gone.
In doing this, Billy asked Royal, “if I make it up there and back, will you put a POW sticker on all the trailers?” Without hesitation, Royal agreed. At the time, we only had 6 trailers however, as MVT grew, today we have close to 5,000 trailers and every single one of them, has a pow sticker on the back.
Because of Billy Elkins and Jim McCahon, Royal makes it a priority to pay homage to our soldiers and spread awareness of this tragic time in American history. Royal will always remember the soldiers who became prisoners of war.