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‘Driving for Excellence Award’ Winner To Receive Kenworth T680 and Top 10 FInalists Honored in Dallas   

DALLAS, Texas., Aug. 23, 2019 – FASTPORT, Kenworth and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring our Heroes Program to find America’s top rookie military veteran, who has made the successful transition from active duty to driving for a commercial fleet. 

All finalists were honored during a dinner at the George W. Bush Library and Museum the night before the announcement for who is moving forward to the voting process. These men and women had the rare opportunity to walk through the presidential museum, taking a moment to reflect on their military service and how it plays a role in American history. Then, they sat down to dinner especially set aside to give the group insight into each finalist, showcasing why each one of them are deserving of the ultimate prize. Speakers included the American Trucking Association Chairman Kevin Burch.

Left to right: Steve Harris (Stevens Transportation), Wade Bumgarner (Veriha Trucking), Monte Morrone (Prime, Inc.), Kevin Lassing (US Xpress), Timothy Raub (Averitt), Joseph Campbell (Roehl Transport), Keso Going (Epes Transport), Maliq Melton (Melton Truck Lines), Christopher Bacon (TMC Transportation), and Thomas Blitch (Werner Enterprises)

Left to right: Steve Harris (Stevens Transportation), Wade Bumgarner (Veriha Trucking), Monte Morrone (Prime, Inc.), Kevin Lassing (US Xpress), Timothy Raub (Averitt), Joseph Campbell (Roehl Transport), Keso Going (Epes Transport), Maliq Melton (Melton Truck Lines), Christopher Bacon (TMC Transportation), and Thomas Blitch (Werner Enterprises)

The following day, finalists are again recognized at the Great American Trucking Show (GATS) where the Final 4 are announced. For the fourth consecutive year, Kenworth will provide The Driver’s Truck™ – a fully-loaded Kenworth T680 equipped with a 76-inch sleeper – to serve as the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence recognition program award.  The Kenworth T680 features the complete PACCAR Powertrain with a PACCAR MX-13 engine, PACCAR 12-speed automated transmission, and PACCAR 40K tandem axles. 

The rookie drivers moving on in the next phase of the award program are (in alphabetical order by last name): 

Christopher Bacon 

TMC Transportation (trained at MTC Driver Training) 

U.S. Marines

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. 

Wade Bumgarner

Veriha (trained in the Veriha Apprenticeship Program) 

U.S. Navy

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.

Joseph Campbell 

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.

Steve Harris

Stevens Transport (trained at Georgia Driving Academy)

U.S. Marines

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.

“Congratulations to finalists Christopher, Wade, Joseph, and Steven—and to the other seven successful drivers who achieved Top 10 status in this year’s Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence recognition program,” said Kurt Swihart, Kenworth marketing director. “We once again are providing a Kenworth T680 as the program’s top award in appreciation to our military veterans for their service.  It is important for the trucking industry to continue its efforts to offer support and career opportunities to our veterans.”

Top 4 Finalists in front of Kenworth T680 trucking that will be awarded to the ultimate winner of the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award. From left to right: Steven Harris, Wade Bumgarner, Christopher Bacon, and Joseph Campbell.

Top 4 Finalists in front of Kenworth T680 trucking that will be awarded to the ultimate winner of the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award. From left to right: Steven Harris, Wade Bumgarner, Christopher Bacon, and Joseph Campbell.

“This year’s three finalists had significant accomplishments in their military careers, and now are making excellent achievements as professional truck drivers. 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,” said Brad Bentley FASTPORT president.

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.

Tim Raub/ U.S. Navy/Averitt Express


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.  

Public voting to help determine the winner will take place on transitiontrucking.org October 1st. The winner will be announced Dec. 6 in Washington, D.C. during a ceremony at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation in Washington, D.C.

To register to attend the award announcement, please visit https://www.fastport.com/transition-trucking-rsvp.