Hiring Our Heroes Award Goes to Army Vet Brandon Meredith

Slay Transportation Driver Wins Kenworth T680
Hiring Our Heroes winner Brandon Meredith
Medal of Honor Recipient retired Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha (left) poses with Hiring Our Heroes winner Brandon Meredith, Meredith's wife Dani and daughters Kamryn and Kylie. (Dan Ronan/Transport Topics)

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WASHINGTON — Just a year ago, Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Meredith, 44, was planning his transition out of the military and, with his family, giving a lot of thought to what he wanted to do next.

Meredith had already obtained his commercial driver license from Fayetteville Technical Community College near Fort Liberty, N.C., where he was stationed. He was wrapping up a 20-year career in the Army, including five deployments and one to a combat zone in 2012 in Afghanistan, where he was awarded a medal for valor. Two years earlier, he and his wife Dani had already decided that the trucking industry was where the family wanted to take his career next.

On Dec. 15 at the headquarters of American Trucking Associations, Meredith was awarded the keys to a new silver Kenworth T680 Signature Edition truck, equipped with a 76-inch sleeper and a 455-horsepower Paccar MX-13 engine and Paccar TX-12 automatic transmission as part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s eighth annual Hiring Our Heroes initiative, in partnership with Fastport and Kenworth Truck Co.

“I’m amazed at how this could happen. It’s overwhelming and unbelievable. This changes my entire life, and I can’t wait to pay it forward and help the next veteran,” Meredith said.

Meredith said he intends to develop an owner-operator relationship with Slay Transportation, a St. Louis-based company where he has worked as a tank truck driver since leaving the military officially at the end of March. “This is a huge help,” Meredith said. “I’ve been thinking about this ahead of time.”

In addition to the new truck, Meredith was awarded a full tuition scholarship to National University. Meredith said he’ll use the funding to complete his nearly finished college education, after transferring his GI Bill education benefits to his daughters, Kylie, 15, and Kamryn, 12.

Fastport is a Boston-based technology company specializing in workforce development and veterans hiring initiatives. The chamber’s program for veterans has helped train and place hundreds of servicemen and servicewomen into transportation-related jobs.

Kenworth T680 Signature Edition

The silver Kenworth T680 Signature Edition is parked outside ATA headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Dan Ronan/Transport Topics)

“It’s really about being able to celebrate the community and showcase what our military community is doing, both in service and after they hang up their uniforms,” Hiring Our Heroes President Eric Eversole said. “To see what the veterans are doing every day for the trucking industry and how they give back to our communities and how they help move America forward is really something.

“The trucking, logistics and transportation industry is an industry that is very forward-thinking. When we look at the workforce of the future and the technology that the future workforce will use, the Kenworth T680 is really a flashing billboard of what this industry looks like in the future, and highlighting those technologies that show the industry is committed to safety and technology will help us recruit the next generation of drivers.”

Four other drivers were recognized as finalists at the event and were presented cash prizes.

Hiring Our Heroes finalists

Four finalists pose with their symbolic cash awards, program officials and the Meredith family. (Dan Ronan/Transport Topics)

First runner-up Marine Corps Master Sgt. Ondrae Meyers, who drives for CRST The Transportation Solution, received $10,000.

Winners of $5,000 were:

As the program has grown over the past eight years, so have the number of former military members competing for the award, from about 20 candidates in 2016 to 74 this year. Fastport said that number is the largest in the program’s history, easily topping the 55 candidates of last year.

“This year was the hardest year yet to select the semifinalists,” Fastport President Brad Bentley said. “It’s the most diverse group in the program’s history, and we are proud to be able to recognize them and each branch of the military through their stories. This is an incredible group of drivers who show us that the future of this industry is in good hands.”


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“Kenworth is honored to again participate in this year’s Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence program to recognize the service of distinguished military veterans and encourage the trucking industry to provide career opportunities and support,” Kenworth Director of Marketing Kyle Kimball said.

Brandon Meredith said the night before the competition he and Dani could not sleep and they talked about what would happen if his name were called by Master of Ceremonies and Medal of Honor Recipient retired Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha in just a few hours.

“My wife says I don’t have any emotions, and normally I don’t,” Meredith told the packed room of veterans and trucking executives. “I’m a third-generation truck driver, and this is something that I have always wanted to do. Today, I am very grateful.”

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