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Next destination: From delivering the mail to delivering on safety

On a Transatlantic voyage from Italy with his family to start a new life in America, Drug and Alcohol Representative Joe Porporino faced an incident at a very young age that many only read about in history books. In the middle of the night with nothing but the clothes on their backs, Joe and his family were rescued from a sinking luxury liner before reaching American soil. Joe was too young to remember the event but his parents were determined to provide a good life for their children in America regardless of how their journey ended. Years later, Joe proudly served in the U.S. Air Force and had a successful 37-year career with the U.S. Postal Service where he gained many skills and knowledge that he brings to his role at Piedmont.

In 1956, in pursuit of a better life in America, Joe and his family emigrated from Italy aboard a ship called the SS Andrea Doria. While enroute to Nantucket, the ship was struck in the fog during the night by another ship approximately 100 miles offshore. Joe and his family were rescued but several passengers perished. As a result of the way the ship tilted on its side, the lifeboats were unusable. The ship that struck their boat, the M/V Stockholm did not sink and was able to rescue passengers. Surviving passengers, including two-year-old Joe, had to be lowered down to the Stockholm by rope. Within hours, the boat had sunk into the Atlantic Ocean. Joe has no recollection of the event but has learned about it from stories told by his parents, photos and other survivors.

Joe joined the United States Air Force where he was based at Columbia Air Force Base, Mississippi and later at Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada. After three years, he separated from the military and obtained his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Ramapo College in New Jersey.

After college, he joined the United States Postal Service (USPS) as a letter carrier in Denville, New Jersey and later worked as an injury compensation and safety specialist. He was promoted to a marketing specialist position at USPS headquarters in Washington, D.C. and soon was promoted to manager of event marketing. In this role, Joe managed USPS sports sponsorships including famed cyclist Lance Armstrong and the cycling team and four NASCAR drivers. Joe was in charge of managing team events, team appearances, paying team invoices, and bonuses. While still working for USPS in D.C., in 1991, he began working part-time as a ramp agent for Midwest Express Airlines to utilize the travel benefits to visit family in New Jersey. After 37 years working for USPS, Joe retired in 2012. That same year, he joined Air Wisconsin as a drug and alcohol representative to administer drug and alcohol testing for crews. With the merger of American and US Airways, he joined American as the Northeast Regional Drug and Alcohol Supervisor. When the COVID pandemic began, Joe decided to retire from American. He began building a home in coastal Delaware when a similar position opened with Piedmont. In April 2021, Joe joined Piedmont as the Drug and Alcohol Representative.

From his previous career, Joe says he gained many skills that he uses every day at Piedmont. In his current role, Joe administers drug and alcohol testing for all new hires and current team members across the system. For most team members testing is random but can be required as a result of an on-the-job accident or aircraft damage. When an accident occurs on the job, managers from all across the system reach out to Joe to arrange for the required testing. “I use the relationship development skills I’ve gleaned over the years when speaking with Piedmont managers out in the field,” says Joe. “I want the managers to know they can count on me to help them with their process.” Joe also leans on the communication and organizational skills he learned from coordinating high-profile events. “Just like my marketing job at USPS, I have to speak with people from all over the country, be able to multi-task and manage the event that occurs from my area of responsibility. There are many situations that may arise throughout the day and what I do is just a part of the larger process.”

Joe is one of two drug and alcohol representatives at Piedmont and as a team, they manage the drug and alcohol testing program for over 9,000 aviation professionals. He is proud to share that since joining Piedmont, the company has added nine additional mobile drug collectors in the field to respond quicker to our stations. “It is a lot to manage day-to-day but I’m used to juggling many things at one time from managing the USPS events,” says Joe.

Joe enjoys his job at Piedmont because it keeps him busy and he enjoys the team he works with. “I enjoy helping and talking to station general managers,” says Joe. “If someone sends me an email and needs my assistance, they will get a response from me no matter the time.”

In his spare time, Joe continues to learn about the ship tragedy that brought him to America, meet other survivors and was asked to speak on the 65th anniversary at a gathering of survivors in New Jersey.

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Next Destination is a Piedmont feature series that highlights our aviation professionals who joined Piedmont after working in a different career field. Piedmont is proud to recognize our team members for their contributions to the success of the airline.