WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ashley Leiva of Noemi Trucking in Corpus Christi, Texas, received the annual “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” award during a recent ceremony held at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.
Leiva, a veteran with nearly 16 years of service in the U.S. Army, received the keys to a Kenworth T680 Next Generation, the top award in the recognition program.
Kenworth teamed with FASTPORT and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes to find America’s top rookie military veteran who made the successful transition from active duty to driving for a commercial fleet.
In 2021, Leiva retired from the Army and returned to Corpus Christi, her hometown. After graduating from the transportation training program at Del Mar College, she and brother, Johnny, began running the trucking business of their late mother Noemi — and renamed it Noemi Trucking in her honor.
Their company hauls crude oil for Draco Energy in South Texas. Leiva is the first winner to be nominated by a National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving School.
“This is certainly a very special moment for me,” Leiva said. “My mother inspired me to go into truck driving. She said driving a truck made her feel like she was on top of the world. It is an honor to receive the Transition Trucking award of the T680 Next Generation from among all the outstanding nominated veterans and fellow truck drivers. Thank you to FASTPORT, Hiring Our Heroes and Kenworth for what you do to help veterans transition into the trucking industry.”
Other featured speakers were: Eric Eversole, Hiring Our Heroes president and U.S. Chamber of Commerce vice president; Brad Bentley, FASTPORT president; and Jesus Di Vila, American Trucking Associations, Road Team Captain and Workforce Heroes Program.
Under the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence program, the two runners-up — Sean Adams/U.S. Navy/McElroy Truck Lines and Dave Marihugh/U.S. Navy/Roehl Transport — were each awarded with a check for $10,000.
Award semifinalists are listed below with their military branch of service and current truck fleet:
- Cale Jensen/U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army/G. Dubbels Farms Trucking.
- Paul Gouker/U.S. Army and National Guard/Stevens 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.
- Jason Van Boxtel/U.S. Marines/Veriha Trucking.
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.