Navy Veteran Named Finalist For Military Rookie Truck Driver of the Year Title

November 20, 2017

U.S. Navy veteran Daniel Shonebarger of Columbus, Georgia, is one of three elite finalists announced for the 2017 Transition Trucking: Driving For Excellence Award, presented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes in partnership with Kenworth Trucking and FASTPORT. The annual award honors one military veteran rookie truck driver with the keys to a new Kenworth T680 truck, giving the veteran an opportunity to launch a new career.

Shonebarger, a sea service veteran of the United States Navy, currently works as a driver for Melton Truck Lines. The three finalists were named by a selection committee after a months-long nomination and selection process as well as a nationwide public vote. The two additional veteran finalists are: U.S. Marine Corps veteran Wayne Roy of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and U.S. Army veteran Gregg Softy of Athens, Alabama. 

“The three finalists for the Transition Trucking award have capitalized on the skills they developed in the military and quickly translated those skills into success in an industry that allows them to play a vital role for American businesses,” said Eric Eversole, a vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and president of Hiring Our Heroes.

The Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence campaign, first launched in the spring of 2016, is part of an overall effort to create immediate jobs for transitioning military personnel and inspire the hiring of more veterans, national guard members, and reservists into the trucking industry. In keeping with the main goal of the initiative, deserving veteran drivers who successfully 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 launch a new career as an owner-operator.

"In 2017, thousands of veterans began careers as truck drivers. Kenworth welcomes these skilled professionals into the trucking industry and recognizes them for their service,” said Kurt Swihart, Kenworth’s marketing director. "Our three finalists in the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence recognition program  – Wayne Roy of U.S. Xpress, Daniel Shonebarger of Melton Truck Lines, and Gregg Softy of Stevens Transport – represent the best of our military and industry. Their service to this country as a Marine, sailor and soldier, respectively, will make the selection of the winner a difficult one. We look forward to the great moment when this year's top rookie military driver receives the keys to the Kenworth T680 Advantage."

Throughout 2017, trucking companies nominated worthy drivers for this campaign, and an independent selection committee of representatives from motor carriers, driver training schools, and trade associations chose 10 preliminary finalists from the eligible nominees. After announcing the top 10 finalists, the selection committee then narrowed the field to the elite top three finalists. The public also had an opportunity to recognize their favorite rookie truck driver through an online vote at TransitionTrucking.org from September 25 through November 11.

“Each of the Top 3 finalists are elite, both in terms of their military service and in their new careers as professional truck drivers. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to recognize their achievements as the newest members of our industry,” said Brad Bentley, FASTPORT President. "It is important for organizations across the United States to do what they can to reach out to veterans to help them make a smooth transition into civilian careers. This is one way that the trucking industry is doing its part."

The Top Veteran Rookie Truck Driver will be announced and presented with a Kenworth T680 truck in a ceremony held at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC, on December 15, 2017.