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 30th 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 first name):
Brian “Kelley” Ward
Veriha Trucking (trained at Veriha Driving Academy)
US Navy, E4, Hull Technician (HT3)
Brian "Kelley" Ward is a father, husband, and U.S. Navy Veteran. To know him is to also know that an American Flag is displayed somewhere nearby but that being father to his daughter Hannah is what brings him the most pride. He joined the Navy in 1994 and was stationed aboard the USS Rushmore LSD-47. In 1999, he moved to the Midwest to start a life in Kenosha, WI with his soon-to-be wife Curren whom he also met while aboard the Rushmore. Today, he is employed by Veriha Trucking based out of Marinette, WI.
Stevens Transport (trained at Central Texas College/Ft. Hood)
US Army (Active Duty and current Reservist), E5, Petroleum Supply Specialist
Christopher W. Young was born at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL and raised in the beautiful Puget Sound region of Washington state. In February 2002, after doing a little world traveling, Christopher enlisted in the United States Army where he attended basic training at Fort Jackson, SC and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Lee, VA. Christopher is proud to have served his country and continues to do so as an Army Reservist.
PAM Transport (trained at Del Mar College)
US Navy, E6, Hospital Corpsman
After graduating high school in 1998, Jeremiah enlisted in the US Navy, spending 20 years serving in many different capacities in the medical field. His first duty station was in Puerto Rico where he was selected as the Radiation Technician of the year. Following that, Jeremiah was transferred to the USS Eisenhower then the USS Enterprise. After his time at sea, he was transferred to the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB). While assigned to the NMCB, Jeremiah was deployed twice, once to Kuwait and then to Iraq. He was then transferred to the USS Kentucky and was the sole medical provider and advisor to the submarine commander. Jeremiah spent his final years as an instructor training others in pre-hospital trauma and combat casualty care. After retiring, he and his wife and three children settled down in San Antonio, TX.
Mordaunt "Platt" Brabner
TMC Transportation (trained at Roadmaster Drivers School)
US Marines and Navy, O5, Advanced Electronic Technician
Mordaunt “Platt” Brabner enlisted in the United States Marine Corps graduating Boot Camp with honors. Assigned as an Air Traffic Control Navigational Aids Technician. Graduated Summa Cum Laude from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University with Bachelor Degrees in Professional Aeronautics and Electronic Engineering. Commissioned as a Naval Flight Officer flying in EA-6B carrier aircraft. Honorably retired from the US Navy. University of Nebraska, EMBA. Pursuing a career as a professional flatbed truck driver with TMC Transportation. Always looking for another opportunity to excel.
Phillip "Tom" Vargo
Roehl Transport (trained at Roehl Transport, Get Your CDL Program)
US Navy, E5, Operations Specialist
Service to our nation and helping others are in Tom's blood. He served in the U.S. Navy as an Operations Specialist, Petty Officer Second Class. After that, Tom served as a corrections officer and a police officer as he raised his two sons. Tom is proud to continue his service to our nation as a safe, Class-A professional driver. In that role, he is also proud to train inexperienced drivers, helping them, their families and our industry. In addition, Tom volunteers with groups helping law enforcement and veterans, in particular talking and listening one-on-one with veterans to help prevent suicide.
Werner Enterprises (trained at US Truck Driving School)
US Army, E5, Bradley Fighting Vehicle System Trainer, Quartermaster and Chemical Equipment Repairer, and BCC Battalion Career Counselor
Born at Fort Polk Louisiana to a military family, the military has been in Quinton Ward's blood from birth. After graduating high school, Quinton enlisted in the Army, completing Basic and AIT at Fort Knox, Kentucky. During his military career, he worked as a Mechanic, Instructor and Career Counselor and was medically retired in 2010. After six years of undergoing medical treatment, with his service dog Kirra by my side, he began to seek a new career. Utilizing the VA Vocational Rehabilitation Program, Quinton graduated with a CDL-A in Fountain, Colorado and joined Werner Enterprises.
Melton Truck Lines (trained at Advanced Technology Institute)
US Navy, E6, Culinary Specialist, Submarine Qualified CS1
Ricardo Sumrall is from Norfolk, Virginia and served in the U.S. Navy for over 20 years. Ricardo’s service began as a Culinary Specialist then continued to First Class Petty Officer, Submarine Qualified, and CS1 (SS) ranking. After earning his Class-A CDL license from Advanced Technology Institute, Ricardo joined the Melton Truck Lines family in August of 2017. When deciding on a career after the military, Ricardo found trucking to be highly suitable to the values and skills he acquired during his tenure in the Navy.
US Xpress (trained at Diesel Driving Academy)
US Air Force and Air National Guard, E6, Information Management Specialist
Born and raised in Crowley, LA, Staff Sergeant Summar N. Hanks began her military career on July 2008 as an active duty member of the United States Air Force where she served as an Information Management Specialist. On November 2016, Summar switched to the Louisiana Air National Guard to start her trucking career. Preparation for the career change included five months of school at Diesel Driving Academy in Baton Rouge, and she started her trucking journey in May 2017. Summar is about to graduate with a degree in business management from Trident University. She holds an Associates degree in Applied Science, Information Management. Her assignments since 2008 have taken her from Kuwait to Seoul and throughout the continental United States.
TMC Transportation (trained at Coastal Truck Driving School)
US Navy, E6, Culinary Specialist First Class, Galley and Wardroom Supervisor, and Military Police
Tilford Sereal resides in Carencro, LA and is a 20-year Navy Veteran. He joined the TMC team in September 2017 as a professional truck driver. Due to his dedication and work ethic, Tilford also recently became a driver trainer where he takes pride in producing safe, educated drivers for America's highways. In his free time, Tilford's hobbies include carpentry and handyman services. He also enjoys restoring his home and classic vehicles.
Prime, Inc. (trained at Tampa Truck Driving School)
US and Army, Petty Officer 2nd Class (Navy) and E5 Sergeant (Army), Damage Controlman DC2 (Navy) and 88M (Army)
Toby Hunt is a 13-year Navy and Army Veteran who has enjoyed serving his country honorably and feels privileged to have served with the best men and women of our Armed Forces. Toby served as a Damage Controlman DC2, being honorably discharged at the rank of Petty Officer Second Class. He also served in the U.S. Army at the Rank of Sergeant as an 88M (truck driver). Toby earned his Class-A CDL through the Tampa Truck Driving School and started driving for Prime in January 2018.
“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. On that night, the Final 3 will be revealed and 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.
In addition to the Driver Recognition Dinner and Announcement, FASTPORT will also host an Apprenticeship Accelerator meeting at the George W. Bush Library and Museum to help companies and organizations begin DOL-approved Registered Apprenticeship programs. Multiple drivers in the Top 10 of Transition Trucking (as well as the award program’s first winner Troy Davidson and last year’s second runner-up Daniel Shonebarger) started their careers as apprentices. Leading companies helped them bridge their skills gaps with this program, and FASTPORT is ready to help other companies attract and retain this kind of incredible talent with similar training models.
To register to attend these events, please visit https://www.fastport.com/dallas-events. To learn more about the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award, please visit transitiontrucking.org.