Eight years ago, Quinton Ward medically retired from the U.S. Army after sustaining an injury during active duty.
Ward completed a vocational rehabilitation program through the Department of Veteran Affairs and began a career as a professional truck driver in 2017.
Just a year later, Ward received the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence award, which recognizes America’s top rookie truck driver with a military background. Ward received a 2018 Kenworth T680 Advantage as part of the award.
Ward was announced as the winner during a ceremony on Friday, Dec. 14, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.
The award aims to encourage military veterans to make the transition into the trucking industry. To be nominated for the award, the driver must be a military veteran, a current CDL holder, an employee of a carrier that has pledged to hire veterans through TruckingTrack.org, and he or she must have been first employed as a truck driver between Jan. 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018.
“I chose trucking because it gives me the ability to drive and see the country that I’ve sworn an oath to defend and protect,” said Ward, who drives for Werner Enterprises.
After nominations were received, the list was narrowed to 10 finalists in July. At GATS, the list was narrowed again to four.
Christopher Young, a veteran of the U.S. Army who works for Stevens Transport, was named first runner-up. Summar Hanks and Mordaunt “Platt” Brabner tied for second runner-up. Hanks is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and drivers for U.S. Xpress. Brabner is a veteran of the U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy and drives for TMC Transportation.
Each runner-up received $10,000.
Ward’s Kenworth T680 Advantage with a 76-inch sleeper is valued at $155,000.
“It’s been a whirlwind since this started nine months ago,” Ward said. “When we look at the people who applied for the award, I’d hate to be on the selection committee. Because it wasn’t easy. I can’t imagine the blood, sweat and tears that went into making this decision.”
Werner will honor Ward’s achievement during an on-field ceremony at the Military Bowl on Dec. 31 in Annapolis, Md.
“We’re very proud of Quinton, and Werner benefits every day from his outstanding professionalism, safety and dedication,” Werner President and CEO Derek Leathers said in a news release. “We congratulate him on this outstanding recognition and thank him for being an excellent representative for the transportation industry.”
This is the third year of the award. Previous winners were Gregg Softy in 2017 and Troy Davidson in 2016.
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