Five veterans are one step closer to winning a Kenworth T680 Signature Edition truck.
Through the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence award, Hiring Our Heroes, Kenworth Truck Company, and FASTPORT recognize America’s top rookie military veteran driver who has made a successful transition from military service to driving for a commercial fleet. As a result, veterans must complete a rigorous nomination, selection committee, and public voting process.
Seventeen semi-finalists recently traveled to Ohio as part of the 8th annual Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award. During the trip, they toured the Kenworth Chillicothe manufacturing plant. They also received recognition as top emerging talent in the trucking industry. From among the 17 semi-finalists, Hiring Our Heroes named five drivers as finalists for
“The five finalists for the 2023 Transition Trucking award have drawn on the skills they developed in the military and quickly translated those skills into success in an industry that allows them to play a vital role for American businesses,” said Eric Eversole, a Vice President at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and President of Hiring Our Heroes.
Here is a summarized list of this year’s finalists. We listed them in alphabetical order by last name:
Todd Kraus, U.S. Army (CW3), Werner Enterprises. Kraus was stationed at an Air Force base where soldiers transported the Marines and taught Coast Guard members. Following his 22-year military career, Kraus joined the U.S. Postal Service. Upon retiring from this career, he earned his CDL.
Brandon Meredith, U.S. Army (E-7), Slay Transport. Meredith spent 13 years in the Special Operations Forces during his 20-year military career. He aims to become an owner-operator and subject matter expert in the trucking industry.
Ondrae Meyers, U.S. Marine Corps (E-7), CRST. During his 22-year military career, Meyers served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and took part in humanitarian efforts in Indonesia. After that, Meyers was a section leader in the Wounded Warrior Battalion-East at Camp Lejeune. Meyers earned his CDL through Troops Into Transportation.
Jessica White, U.S. Army (E-5), Stevens Transport. While stationed in Germany, White drove heavy transport trucks loaded with equipment, missiles, and live ammunition throughout 15 European countries.
LaTravis Wilcox, U.S. Marine Corps (E-8), Prime Inc. Wilcox worked a variety of roles ranging from motor vehicle operator to aircraft avionics technician to a drill instructor. Following retirement, Wilcox remained involved in “making Marines” at the University of Mississippi. That is to say Wilcox served as the Assistant Marine Officer Instructor for the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps.
“Each of our semi-finalists are accomplished veterans driving positive change as professional truck drivers, and this is especially true for the finalists representing their newly adopted industry. Moving past military-friendly, this veteran-ready industry is providing a key avenue to bring in a great new generation of trucking talent like these inspiring individuals,” said Brad Bentley, president of FASTPORT, Inc. “This is an incredible group of drivers who show us that the future of this industry is in good hands.”
In recognition of Kenworth’s 100th anniversary, this year’s award is the T680 Signature Edition truck. It’s equipped with a 76-inch sleeper. Additionally, the truck has the PACCAR Powertrain featuring the PACCAR MX-13 engine rated at 455 horsepower, PACCAR TX-12 automated transmission, and PACCAR DX-40 tandem rear axles. The first runner-up will receive a $10,000 prize, and the remaining finalists will receive $5,000 each.
“It was an honor to meet and recognize the 17 semi-finalist drivers in Columbus. We hosted them at our Kenworth Chillicothe manufacturing plant where the grand prize T680 Signature Edition truck was made,” said Kyle Kimball, Kenworth director of marketing. “Kenworth is proud to participate in the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence program. We look forward to awarding the T680 100th anniversary truck to this year’s winner, a deserving veteran entering the trucking industry.”
The public can vote for their favorite truck driver between November 1 and Veterans Day. We will announce the winner during a ceremony on Dec. 15 at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.