Veteran services

Top 12 Finalists Nominated for Best Rookie Military Veteran Pilot

KIRKLAND, Wash. — After receiving entries from a record number of nominators, FASTPORT recently announced its 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 successfully transitioned from active duty to driving a commercial fleet.

Kenworth has partnered with FASTPORT, the American Trucking Associations and the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring our Heroes program to support “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence.”

As part of the recognition program, Kenworth will present the top award for the seventh consecutive year.

For the first time, this prize is a Kenworth T680 Next Generation. The T680 Next Gen features a 76-inch sleeper and the full PACCAR powertrain including the PACCAR MX-13 engine, PACCAR TX-12 automated transmission and PACCAR DX-40 tandem rear axles.

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

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

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

The drivers were nominated by trucking companies that have pledged to hire and have pledged to hire veterans, members of the National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools, or a member school of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association.

The best pilot will be determined by a jury of experts. To be eligible, drivers had to meet three eligibility conditions:

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

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

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

For more information on the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence awards program, please visit

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