Slay Transport driver/trainer Brandon Meredith, a U.S. Army veteran, recently emerged from a record number of nominees as one of 17 semifinalists for the 2023 “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” award.
The ultimate prize is a Kenworth T680 Signature Edition truck.
Kenworth, Fastport, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative launched the Transition Trucking contest in 2016 as part of an overall plan to recognize the achievements of veterans transitioning into the transportation industry. This year’s semi-finalists represent each branch of the military, including National Guard and Reserve.
The 2023 Transition Trucking semifinalists are:
- Andre Matthews, U.S. Army (O-4), Melton Truck Lines
- Anthony Nelson, U.S. Air Force (E-6), Roehl Transport
- Brandon Meredith, U.S. Army (E-7), Slay Transport
- Christian Slingerland, U.S. Army (E-5), Paschall Truck Lines
- James Ferrante, U.S. Navy (E-5), Epes Transport System LLC
- James Smith, U.S. Army (E-4), Viking Electric
- Jeffrey Pitts, U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserve (E-3), NFI Industries
- Jessica White, U.S. Army (E-5), Stevens Transport
- Kareem Isaac, U.S. Army National Guard (E-4), Ryder
- Joseph Harmon, U.S. Marine Corps (E-4), USA Truck/DB Schenker
- Larry Todd Kraus, U.S. Army (CW3), Werner Enterprises
- LaTravis Wilcox, U.S. Marine Corps (E-8), Prime Inc.
- Ondrae Meyers, U.S. Marine Corps (E-7), CRST
- Ryan Buttenob, U.S. Air Force (E-4), Schneider
- Tameca Dale, U.S. Army Reserve (O-4), US Army/Kingdom Message Carriers LLC
- Tobie Myers, U.S. Army and Army Reserve (E-2), Putnam Trucking
- William "Bill" Masters, U.S. Air Force and Army National Guard (E-4 and E-5), Veriha Trucking
In recognition of Kenworth’s 100th anniversary, this year’s grand prize is a Signature Edition T680 equipped with a 76-inch sleeper and the Paccar powertrain, featuring the Paccar MX-13 engine rated at 455 horsepower, Paccar TX-12 automated transmission, and Paccar DX-40 tandem rear axles.
“Kenworth is honored to again participate in this year’s ‘Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence’ program to recognize the service of distinguished military veterans and encourage the trucking industry to provide career opportunities and support,” Kyle Kimball, Kenworth director of marketing, said in a news release.
“Congratulations to this esteemed group of semifinalists as they vie for the T680 Signature Edition truck in Washington D.C.”
As part of the eighth annual program, the semifinalists will be honored throughout the month, and each will attend a ceremony at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum on Sept. 21 in Columbus, Ohio. The following day will include a tour of the Kenworth Chillicothe manufacturing plant and a ceremony at the MHC Road Ready Center where semifinalists will be recognized and finalists continuing in the program will be announced.
“The Transition Trucking award campaign is an opportunity to highlight the impact veterans are making in the transportation industry and introduce a new generation of veterans to the real economic opportunity a career in trucking can represent,” said Eric Eversole, president of Hiring Our Heroes and a vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Those select finalists and the ultimate winner will be part of an expanded, veteran-focused week that includes a Veteran-Ready Summit on Dec. 15, the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award announcement Dec. 16, Employment Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Statement of Support Signing Ceremony later that afternoon, and Wreaths Across America on Dec. 17.
A public vote will occur online from Nov. 1 until Veteran’s Day. This voting is an important determiner for the award’s selection committee, which makes the ultimate choice for the next Transition Trucking award winner.
“This year was the hardest year yet to select the semi-finalists,” said Brad Bentley, Fastport president. “It’s the most diverse group in the program’s history, and we are proud to be able to recognize them and each branch of the military through their stories. This is an incredible group of drivers who show us that the future of this industry is in good hands.”