For the fourth consecutive year, Hiring Our Heroes, Kenworth Trucking, and FASTPORT will award one military veteran rookie driver with a new Kenworth T680 truck to start his entrepreneurial journey as an owner-operator.
The Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award campaign began in 2016 to highlight career opportunities in the trucking industry among veterans, Reservists, and National Guard members.
The campaign culminates with the presentation of a new Kenworth T680 truck to a deserving veteran who successfully transitioned from the military into the trucking industry. The Kenworth T680 truck, equipped with a 76-inch sleeper, features the complete PACCAR Powertrain with a PACCAR MX-13 engine, PACCAR 12-speed automated transmission, and PACCAR 40K tandem axles.
This year’s award recipient will be announced at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hall of Flags on December 6, 2019. Nominees include Marine and Army veteran Joseph Campbell, Marine veteran Christopher Bacon, Navy veteran Wade Bumgarner, and Marine veteran Steve Harris.
Meet the 2019 Transition Trucking Finalists
U.S. Marine Corps
Christopher Bacon served two combat tours, one each in Afghanistan and Iraq, as an anti-tank missileman in the U.S. Marine Corps. After an honorable discharge as a lance corporal in 2010, Bacon worked as an automotive technician and service advisor before deciding to fulfill his dream of becoming a truck driver.
“I have trucking in my blood,” Bacon said. “My grandfather provided a good living for his family as a truck driver and my great grandfather was an original member of the Teamsters in the early 1900s, driving a horse and buggy to make a living.”
This St. Louis native utilized his GI Bill to obtain his Class A CDL license from MTC Truck Driver Training in 2018.
“I take great pride in having been in the Marine Corps and having the opportunity to serve my country. Even though I’ve been out of the service a few years now I always represent as if I were still in. Honor and integrity are an important part of who I am, and I owe it to the Marine Corps for instilling those values in me so deeply,” Bacon said.
Bacon currently works as a professional flatbed truck driver at TMC Transportation.
Duane Boswell, vice president of operations at MTC Driver Training, said Bacon is an ideal candidate for this award.
“He transcends every piece of criteria set in this program through his military career and the professionalism and determination he brings to the trucking industry,” Boswell said.
Born and raised in a military family, Wade Bumgarner joined the U.S. Navy in 1976.
In 2014, Bumgarner saw the need for manufacturing to become actively involved in helping veterans obtain practical experience to further their careers in the civilian world, so he championed for and helped design an intern program for veterans at the Manitowoc Company where he was employed at the time. This on-the-job training program earned the Manitowoc Company the “Large Employer of the Year” award from both the American Legion and Wisconsin Disabled Veterans.
In 2018, Bumgarner completed Veriha Trucking’s apprentice program. He has been a solo driver since October 2018.
“Wade is a ‘veteran’s veteran’ by actively being a part of the veteran community and helping any way he can,” said Kyle McDonald, apprentice program leader at Veriha Trucking.
Bumgarner volunteers his time, resources, and expertise to assist veterans with resume writing and job search strategies.
“I would like to someday be able to once again help transitioning veterans find their way in their new civilian life where their unique skill sets and training can be appreciated and valued,” Bumgarner said.
U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army
Joseph Campbell served as a telephone technician in the Marine Corps from 1991 to 1996. In 2000, Campbell returned to military service; this time serving as a paralegal in the U.S. Army. He retired from the Army after 24 years in the U.S. military in 2018.
Now, Campbell is a professional truck driver in Roehl’s Flatbed Division. He completed his first year of employment accident free, completed the first year of a two-year apprenticeship program, is training to become a certified trainer, and is a member of the Driver Advisory Group.
“I chose trucking as a career path because it made me feel like I am still a part of something larger than myself,” Campbell said. “Trucking has allowed me to see the true beauty of the United States and has allowed me to meet incredible individuals from all over the nation that I took an oath to defend even with the ultimate sacrifice.”
Kevin Nixon, president of the Flatbed Division at Roehl Transport, nominated Campbell for this honor because of Campbell’s work performance.
“His first year has been highlighted by no preventable accidents, flawless service, and consistent availability to his customers,” Nixon said.
U.S. Marine Corps
After graduating from high school, Steve Harris attended the Army Mountain Warfare School in Vermont. Once he completed that training in 2002, Harris joined the Marine Corps. Harris deployed to Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan as a satellite communications chief between 2002 and 2014.
Harris worked as a corrections officer for one year before becoming a truck driver with Stevens Transport in 2018.
“The three core values of a Marine are honor, courage, and commitment. I exhibit these by staying committed to what I’m doing, having courage on every trip, no matter the terrain or weather and honoring where I have come from and where I am headed,” Harris said.
Weldon Adams, vice president of operations at Stevens Transport, said Harris is a natural in the trucking industry.
“Since starting at Stevens and as a solo driver, he has averaged more than 10,000 miles per month and being new to this industry that makes a strong statement about his drive and character,” Adams said.
Drivers were nominated by trucking companies that made a hiring commitment and pledge to hire veterans on with FASTPORT, or by members of the National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools, or Commercial Vehicle Training Association-member school.