A distinguished veteran with nearly 16 years in the U.S. Army received the annual “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” award during a special ceremony held Friday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.
For the seventh consecutive year, Kenworth teamed with Fastport and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s "Hiring our Heroes" effort 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 top award in the recognition program. 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 Transition Trucking winner to be nominated by a school affiliated with the National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools.
“This is certainly a very special moment for me," she said. "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. 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.”
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 with a $10,000 check.
For the first time in the award’s history, all 11 semifinalists received a trip to Washington, D.C., to be honored for their military service and participate in the awards ceremony. Under the program, driver nominations can be made by any for-hire carrier or private fleet employer, training organizations, general public and other interested parties only by completing a nomination form on the “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” website.