DALLAS — Four professional truck drivers who have each served their country with distinction achieved another distinction in their new careers during the Great American Trucking Show, as they were named finalists in the annual Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence contest.
In 2016, the U.S Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Program, along with Kenworth and FASTPORT, came together “to find America’s top rookie military veteran,” according to the program’s website, who has made the successful transition from active duty to driving for a commercial fleet.
And for the fourth consecutive year, the winner will receive a a fully-loaded Kenworth T680 equipped with a 76-inch sleeper and a complete PACCAR Powertrain with a PACCAR MX-13 engine, PACCAR 12-speed automated transmission and PACCAR 40K tandem axles.
Ten semifinalists were invited to Dallas, where they were all honored at a dinner August 22 at the George W. Bush Presidential Library. The next day, the four finalists were announced.
The four finalists are:
Christopher Bacon, a 31-year-old who hails from St. Louis and drives for TMC Transportation. Bacon served two combat tours in the Marine Corps, one each in Afghanistan and Iraq, as an anti-tank missileman. After an honorable discharge in 2010, Bacon worked as an automotive technician and service advisor before deciding to fulfill his dream of becoming a truck driver.
Wade Bumgarner, who drives for Veriha Trucking, grew up in a military family. His father served 23 years in the Air Force before taking on a 13-year career with U.S. Customs. Bumgarner, joined the Navy in 1976 and has since been actively involved in helping transitioning veterans for many years, assisting vets with job search skills, resume writing and job-search strategies. In 2014, he played a key role in establishing an award-winning internship program for vets at The Manitowoc Company, where he was employed at the time.
Joseph Campbell served a combined 24 years in the Army and Marines prior to beginning his truck-driving career in Roehl Transport’s Flatbed division. His first responsibility is protecting the motoring public and then picking up and delivering cargo on-time and undamaged. Campbell is training to become a certified trainer and he is a member of the Driver Advisory Group. He hopes to become an owner-operator soon.
Steve Harris was born and raised in Atlanta. After he graduated from high school, he attended the Army Mountain Warfare School. Upon completion in 2002, Harris joined the United States Marine Corps and was deployed to Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, during which time he received the Combat Action Ribbon. After his deployments, Steve worked as a corrections officer for one year in Georgia but wanted more freedom in his job. He started driving for Stevens Transport and hasn’t looked back since.
“This year’s four finalists had significant accomplishments in their military careers and now are making excellent achievements as professional truck drivers,” said Brad Bentley, FASTPORT president. “We urge the trucking industry and organizations across the United States to especially reach out to our veterans and help them make a smooth transition back into civilian life.”
Other truck drivers who achieved the Top 10 finalists list and were recognized at GATS are:
–Thomas Blitch/U.S. Navy and Naval Reserves/Werner Enterprises
–Keso Going/U.S. Army/Epes Transport
–Kevin Lassing/ U.S. Army/U.S. Xpress
–Maliq Melton/U.S. Army/ Melton Truck Lines
–Monte Morrone/U.S. Army and U.S. Marines/Prime Inc.
–Timothy Raub/ U.S. Navy/Averitt Express
Videos featuring each of the four finalists will be posted on the Transition Trucking website, transitiontrucking.org, where a public vote will determine the winner. The online voting will be from October 1 through November 1. The winner will be announced at a presentation at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation December 6 in Washington, D. C.
There, the winner will be presented with the Kenworth T680. The first runner-up will receive $10,000, while the two other finalists will receive $5,000 each.
For more information on the “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” award program, visit transitiontrucking.org.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.