12 Chosen in Search for Top Rookie Military-Veteran Driver

Winner To Receive ‘Driving for Excellence Award’ Kenworth T680 Next Gen 

KIRKLAND, Wash., Sept. 1, 2022 – After receiving entries from a record number of nominators, FASTPORT recently announced its Top 12 finalists for “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence,” a program dedicated to finding America’s top rookie military veteran driver. The program recognizes professional drivers who have made the successful transition from active duty to driving for a commercial fleet. 

Kenworth has teamed with FASTPORT, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring our Heroes Program to support “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence.”

Under the recognition program, Kenworth will provide the top award for the seventh consecutive year. For the first time, that award is a Kenworth T680 Next Generation. The T680 Next Gen is equipped with a 76-inch sleeper and the complete PACCAR Powertrain featuring the PACCAR MX-13 engine, PACCAR TX-12 automated transmission, and PACCAR DX-40 tandem rear axles.

The Top 12 drivers, listed with their military branch of service and current truck fleet, include:

  • Sean Adams/U.S. Navy/McElroy Truck Lines
  • Jason Van Boxtel/U.S. Marines/Veriha Trucking
  • Alexander Brandt/U.S. Army/Hirschbach Motor Lines
  • Cale Jensen/U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army/G. Dubbels Trucking
  • Ashley Leiva/U.S. Army/Draco Energy, Neomi Trucking
  • Paul Gouker/U.S. Army and National Guard/Stevens Transport
  • Dave Marihugh/U.S. Navy/Roehl Transport
  • Chris McDowell/U.S. Army and National Guard/EPES Transport
  • Joe Nyenatee/U.S. Army/Melton Truck Lines
  • Talon Rogers/U.S. Army/CRST 
  • Justin Silk/U.S. Army/Paschall Truck Lines
  • Michael D. Thomas/U.S. Marines/PRIME Inc. 

“This year’s competition in the “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” program produced an outstanding group of 12 finalists. We appreciate their dedication on the road to excel as truck drivers in their new profession, and we are grateful for their military service to the country,” said Genevieve Bekkerus, Kenworth director of marketing.

“It is always a challenge to select the most deserving drivers from the list of our talented nominees. This year’s finalists represent a variety of military branches and are outstanding examples of the over-the-road service that veterans can offer the trucking industry,” said FASTPORT President Brad Bentley. “We urge organizations in the United States to make a special effort to reach out to our veterans and help them smoothly transition into civilian life.”

Drivers were nominated by trucking companies that made a hiring commitment and pledge to hire veterans, members of the National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools (NAPFTDS), or Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA) member school.  

The top driver will be determined by an expert panel of judges. To qualify, drivers had to meet three eligibility requirements:

  • Must have been active military or member of the National Guard or Reserve.
  • Graduated from PTDI-certified, NAPFTDS or CVTA member driver training school, with a valid CDL.
  • First hired in a trucking position between January 1, 2021, and July 31, 2022.

The Top 12 will receive recognition for both their military and civilian accomplishments at the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Salute dinner Sept. 22 in the National Veterans Memorial and Museum in Columbus, Ohio. On Sept. 23, the finalists will tour the Kenworth Chillicothe manufacturing plant. The Top 3 announcement will follow at the nearby MHC RoadReady Center in Chillicothe. The final winner will be announced on December 16 at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation in Washington, D.C. 


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