A veteran with nearly 16 years in the U.S. Army received the annual “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” award during a ceremony held recently at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., according to Paccar's news release.
For the seventh consecutive year, Kenworth teamed with FASTPORT and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes to find America’s top rookie military veteran who made the successful transition from active duty to driving for a commercial fleet.
Professional truck driver Ashley Leiva of Noemi Trucking in Corpus Christi, Texas, received the keys to a Kenworth T680 Next Generation. The T680 Next Gen is equipped with a 76-inch sleeper and Paccar Powertrain featuring a Paccar MX-13 engine, Paccar TX-12 automated transmission, and Paccar DX-40 tandem rear axles.
In 2021, Leiva retired from the U.S. Army and returned to her hometown in Corpus Christi, Texas. After graduating from the transportation training program at Del Mar College, she and brother Johnny Leiva began running the trucking business of their late mother Noemi – and renamed it Noemi Trucking in her honor. Their company hauls crude oil for Draco Energy in South Texas.
Leiva is the first winner to be nominated by a National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving School.
“This is certainly a very special moment for me. My mother inspired me to go into truck driving. She said driving a truck made her feel like she was on top of the world,” said Leiva. “It is an honor to receive the Transition Trucking award of the T680 Next Generation from among all the outstanding nominated veterans and fellow truck drivers. Thank you to FASTPORT, Hiring Our Heroes, and Kenworth for what you do to help veterans transition into the trucking industry.”
Other featured speakers were Eric Eversole, Hiring Our Heroes president and U.S. Chamber of Commerce vice president; Brad Bentley, FASTPORT president; and Jesus Di Vila, American Trucking Associations, Road Team Captain and Workforce Heroes Program.
“Ashley has a great support network in her civilian career, and I know she will be a great ambassador for our industry moving forward. All 11 of these military service members who transitioned into careers as professional drivers are hard-working, dependable, motivated, ethical, and disciplined team players – an asset to the trucking industry and their companies,” said Bentley.
Under the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence program, the two runners-up Sean Adams/U.S. Navy/McElroy Truck Lines and Dave Marihugh/U.S. Navy/Roehl Transport; were each awarded a check for $10,000.