John Ed Ashcraft of the Pansy community in Cleveland County was recently honored by the United Parcel Service (UPS) for retiring with 35 years of service.
Ashcraft, who was a delivery driver with UPS from the Pine Bluff Center, was recognized for his loyal service contributions.
He began his career in 1977 as a delivery driver with the company. When he looks back over the years, he is reminded of the strength his family provided through the hard times, and the joy of the good times.
“I’ve made runs so hot I had to put ice in my socks, and runs so cold I wrapped each leg in trash bags to keep warm,” he said.
His most memorable moment though was saving a little boy who had slid down an 8-foot embankment into a creek in 1988. Ashcraft’s heroic efforts garnered statewide attention by the UPS in it’s Big Idea publication that year.
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As printed in the Big Idea publication written, by Thomas Rowe:
On February 19, 1988, Pine Bluff driver John Ed Ashcraft was making his usual deliveries. It was raining and cold as he approached his next stop on Suburbia Lane.
John got out of his package car and went up to the house to deliver the package. Just as he was going to knock on the door, a little boy ran up to him and said his friend fell in the creek and needed help.
John said, “The first thing I did was set down my clipboard and package and take off for the creek. Upon arriving at the creek, I started to panic because the youngster slid down an eight-foot embankment into the creek, and I thought if I jumped in after him, I wouldn’t be able to get out either. I knew I had to do something fast. Because of all the rain, the creek was running very fast and the water was over the little boy’s head.”
John looked around and found a branch and stuck it out toward the boy and told him to hang on to it. He grabbed the branch, but it broke.
“I then jumped up and took the boy’s bike and stuck it down in the water, so the little boy grabbed on to the bike,” he said. “And I pulled him out.” By this time, the boy’s father had come down to the creek.
Quick thinking and reactions are a part of delivery drivers’ routine. Fortunately for the young boy, John was in the right place at the right time.
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Ashcraft enjoyed a retirement party hosted by his family. It was an evening full of “UPS Trivia,” a look back at achievements such as the UPS Circle of Honor for 25 years of safe driving, and memories made.
The party concluded with the release of 35 UPS balloons by Ashcraft and three of his grandchildren – Daniel Gavin, Leah Wolf and McKenzie Welch – a balloon representing each year of service to UPS.
He will take away with him valuable friendships made through the years.