The "Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence" award campaign, first launched in the spring of 2016, is part of an overall effort to inspire the hiring of more veterans, national guard members, and reservists into the trucking industry. As the main part of the initiative, deserving veteran drivers who have made a successful transition from military service to the trucking industry were nominated by their carriers for the chance to win a fully-loaded Kenworth T680 truck to accelerate their newfound careers.
Since nominations closed on June 25th for this year’s hopefuls, the exceptional pool of candidates has been narrowed to the elite Top 10.
The Top 10 finalists include (listed in alphabetical order of last name):
TMC Transportation (trained at MTC Driver Training)
Christopher Bacon is a 31 year-old native of the St. Louis, MO area and a United States Marine Corps Veteran. Chris served two combat tours, one each in Afghanistan and Iraq, as an Anti-tank Missileman. After an honorable discharge in 2010, Chris worked as an automotive technician and service advisor before deciding to fulfill his dream of becoming a truck driver as his grandfather and great grandfather had done. Chris earned his Class A CDL at MTC Driver Training and went to work for TMC Transportation as a professional flatbed truck driver where he remains today.
Werner Enterprises (trained at Roadmaster Drivers School)
Thomas Blitch is a retired U.S. Navy commander and son of a Navy Rear Admiral. Commander Blitch graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. His highly decorated military service includes ashore commanding officer and various shipboard assignments. After retiring from the Navy, he served as controller of several corporations; founded and has been the president of Magellan Christian Academies, faith-based early childhood education centers, for 20 years. He is the author of Pop’s Place: Some Things Are Meant To Be, a historical novel currently in publication. He and his wife of 32 years live in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. He eventually found his way to truck driving and attended Roadmaster Drivers School and now a professional truck driver at Werner Enterprises.
Veriha (trained in the Veriha Apprenticeship Program)
Wade Bumgarner was born and raised in a military family. His father was in the Air Force for 23 years and then US Customs for another 13. He served as a Titan missile mechanic and an air traffic controller during the Vietnam War and also served during the Korean War. Wade joined the U.S. Navy in 1976 and has been actively involved in helping transitioning Veterans for many years, volunteering his time, resources and expertise to local Veteran groups and the DWD by assisting Vets with job search skills, resume writing (converting military speak to mfg. speak) and job search strategies. In 2014, he saw the need for manufacturing to become actively involved in helping our Vets obtain valued practical experience to help further their career in the civilian world, so he championed (and helped design) and internship program for Vets at The Manitowoc Company where he was employed at the time. This program was a great success and earned The Manitowoc Company the Large Manufacturer of the Year Award from both the American Legion and the DAV.
Roehl Transport (trained in Roehl Transport Apprenticeship Program)
U.S. Marines and U.S. Army
Joseph Campbell is a professional truck driver in Roehl’s Flatbed Division. His first responsibility is protecting the motoring public and then picking up and delivering cargo on-time and undamaged. Joseph 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. He hopes to become an owner operator soon. Joseph served 24 years in the United States Marine Corps and United States Army and achieved multiple accolades for successes while serving stateside and abroad in combat zones.
Epes Transport (trained at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute)
Keso Going spent seven years in the U.S. Army and currently works for Epes Transport. He has a wife and three sons and enjoys spending time with his family. Keso has lived in Oklahoma and Texas but spent most of his life in North Carolina. He enjoys traveling through to see and experience new things and loves that his job in trucking has allowed him to experience just that.
Stevens Transport (trained at Georgia Driving Academy)
Steve Harris was born and raised in Atlanta, GA. After he graduated from high school, he attended the Army Mountain Warfare School. Upon completion in 2002, Steve joined the United States Marine Corps, where he 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 found trucking and Stevens and hasn’t looked back since.
U.S. Xpress (trained at C.D.L. Training Services & Consulting, Inc.)
Kevin Lassing graduated high school in 2001 and joined the Army in 2003. While stationed at Ft. Bragg, he met his wife then served 2 tours in Iraq before getting out of the Army in 2011. In 2018 Kevin decided to use his VA benefits to go to trucking school and joined U.S. Xpress. He and his wife currently live in Albemarle, NC with his stepson, David (19), who just graduated from High School, and their daughter, Elizabeth (14), who is a Sophomore in the Stanly Early College program.
Melton Truck Lines (trained at Roadmaster Drivers School)
Maliq Melton was raised in a small Texas town that would come to teach him several lessons as he grew up. Prior to his service, Maliq was a troubled teen but enlisting encouraged him to be able to face his personal demons. He’s developed a greater sense of awareness as to who he is as a man and his own development of discipline, confidence, and determination. These skills now lend him to being an excellent provider for his family and acknowledge his own struggles to grow from. Maliq says, “Growing up in a small town groomed me to be a mannered man and the military developed me into the responsible man I’ve become today.”
Prime, Inc. (trained at Prime, Inc.)
U.S. Marines and U.S. Army Reserve
Monte Morrone served 10 years active duty in the U.S. Marines as a helicopter mechanic then served nine years in the Army Reserve as a licensed practical nurse and combat medic. During that time, he served multiple missions throughout Eastern Europe and Asia and two tours in Afghanistan, as well as a humanitarian mission to Uganda, Africa.
Averitt (trained at Tidewater Community College)
Timothy Raub, born on Patuxent River Naval base in Maryland. Enjoyed working in the customer service field and joined the Navy out of high school. Spent 26 years serving his country cooking and training junior Sailors to bring out the best in them as well. Served on five ships, two overseas unaccompanied commands and three shore duty commands dealing in hotel restaurant services and one as an instructor teaching food service. He is an active Deacon in a local church and works a food pantry when not on the road.
“Each of these candidates is an incredible ambassador to display what military talent brings to the trucking industry,” said FASTPORT President Brad Bentley. “They represent a wide variety of military branches and occupations, showing once again that a professional driving career is open and beneficial to all service members, regardless of what their specific job was in the military. Culling the list of nominees to the Top 10 was a difficult task, one not taken lightly. These finalists are outstanding and truly show the best of the best.”
The Top 10 Finalists will be recognized at the George W. Bush Library and Museum during a reception where they will be honored for their contributions to the military and civilian sectors by trucking and transportation leaders as well as government and association representatives. The following morning, the Final 3 will be announced at the Great American Trucking Show (GATS) and those finalists will enter into a popular vote to help determine who will be the ultimate recipient of the Kenworth T680 truck donated by Kenworth, a PACCAR company.
ABOUT KENWORTH TRUCK COMPANY
Kenworth Truck Company is the manufacturer of The World’s Best® heavy and medium duty trucks. Kenworth’s Internet home page is at www.kenworth.com. Kenworth is a PACCAR company.
ABOUT HIRING OUR HEROES
Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to help veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful employment. Working with a vast network of state and local chambers and other strategic partners from the public, private and nonprofit sectors, Hiring Our Heroes has helped hundreds of thousands of veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment. In March 2012, Hiring Our Heroes and Capital One launched Hiring 500,000 Heroes, a national campaign to engage the business community in committing to hire half a million veterans and military spouses by the end of 2014. This milestone was achieved in June 2015 when 500,000 veteran and military spouse hires were confirmed.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness and educating the public on how the free enterprise system improves society and the economy.
FASTPORT, Inc. is an employment software development company that builds products to help Veterans, members of the Guard and Reserve, transitioning service members and military spouses find meaningful employment. Using its proprietary technology, FASTPORT is committed to matching job seekers to employers actively hiring from the military community.
FASTPORT, Inc. is a Department of Labor Industry Intermediary to increase apprenticeship programs for civilian and Veteran talent and has a commercial co-venture with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Program to develop the preeminent employment marketplace to connect employers and military candidates. For more information, visit fastport.com.