RICHMOND, Va. -- Robert Campbell feels right at home on the road. As a bus driver for Winn Transportation, the man known affectionately as "Soup" has seen more of North America than most.
"I’ve been driving buses for 48 years with more than 4 million miles on the highway," he said."[I've been to] every state except Hawaii and every province in Canada."
The 70-year-old driver lives to serve others and does so with a smile and a song. He often sings gospel songs and "Happy Trails" to his passengers.
Soup guesses he has carried nearly 1,000,000 passengers during his 48-year career. Too many to remember each one, he said, but one group of passengers stands out from the rest. Ten years ago, Soup would sign up to drive into devastation and danger.
"I keep a diary of everything so I know exactly what transpired," Soup said. "Water was at the first step of the bus."
As part of a small army of bus drivers, Soup was tasked with moving thousands of people out of water-logged New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. He would move two busloads, nearly 100 people, out of Louisiana to Arkansas and Texas.
"All they had was the clothes on their back and they were already wet," Soup recalled. "What they did was say, ‘This bus was going to Dallas. This bus going to Houston.’ That is how all of the families got separated."
The rescue mission resulted in a trying few days for the battle-hardened Viet Nam veteran.
"I had tears in my eyes because so many people brought little pets," Soup said. "I felt good that I took the initiative to go down there for the fact that that could have been someone in my family that needed help."
Before his grateful passengers would step off of his bus, they would sign a bright orange life preserver someone left behind. A cherished keepsake.
"Like me in Viet Nam I survived. They survived," Soup said.
Campbell takes pride in bringing relief to others abroad and at home.
"He has just been the best," Soup's supervisor Mark Pounders said. "Day after day after day. Even on his days off. He is taking care of his neighbor. He is taking care of a friend. He is going to the hospital to visit somebody."
"To me it is the American way," Soup explained. "Love thy Neighbor."
Soup is not slowing down. He said he would like to drive for another two years. That will mean 50 years on the road for the "Soup Man." His bus is not too hard to find, it’s the one with a big heart.
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