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Joseph Campbell stood on stage at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington on Dec. 6, fighting back tears. Just before he walked to the podium, he had hugged his wife, Debbie, his father, Joseph, and mother, Littie. The family had journeyed up from their hometown of Elgin, S.C., and had been anxiously sitting in the room waiting for the news in the Chamber’s famous flag room.
On stage, Campbell, 47, was holding the keys to a new, fully loaded Kenworth T680 truck. Moments before, he was named the winner of the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award, which is given out annually with the Chamber’s Hiring Our Heroes division, Kenworth and Fastport, a national group that assists veterans with finding careers after they leave the military. The award recognizes rookie truck drivers who also are military veterans.
Campbell’s journey to reach this moment started in February 1991 when, just after high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and served for five years.
Joseph Campbell sits in the T680 cab as Kenworth marketing director Lisa Berreth hands him the keys. Campbell served in the Marines and Army. (Courtesy Paul Feenstra)
“I’m overwhelmed. I never thought I’d ever be in a position like this, where someone would actually give me a really good opportunity to take that initial weight of trying to find a truck to really get into the industry the way I want to, as an owner-operator,” Campbell said.
Campbell only began driving a truck in the civilian world less than two years ago after he retired from the U.S. Army as a sergeant first class. He’s a flatbed driver for Roehl Transport and plans to drive for the company under its operating authority.
“I’m going to stay with them, and they have done me right the whole time that I have been with them,” Campbell said.
In January 2000, four years after leaving the Marines, Campbell re-enlisted, this time in the Army. During his 24 years in uniform in the two branches of the service, he deployed to Iraq in 2003 and served at several major military installations including Fort Knox (Ky.), Fort Bragg (N.C.) and Fort McCoy (Wis.). Along the way, he earned two bachelor’s degrees and a masters in performance management.
I’m going to stay with them, and they have done me right the whole time that I have been with them.
Joseph Campbell, on his career as a driver with Roehl Transport
“This truck is a grateful gift. It’s not a reward. It’s a gift,” he said. “It’s an honor to be chosen to drive this truck.”
Before Campbell’s name was picked, he and the others in the audience heard U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue issue a strong call to keep recruiting veterans for the industry.
“I’m talking about people who know their businesses and know about how to take care of their responsibilities,” Donohue said. “No one is more deserving of this opportunity [than] the men and women who have served our country in our armed forces.”
U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue, a former CEO of American Trucking Associations, reminded the industry to keep recruiting veterans. (Courtesy Paul Feenstra)
Donohue reminded the audience that before he joined the Chamber of Commerce, he was CEO of American Trucking Associations for 13 years.
“These are smart people, and that’s what we have got in the trucking industry,” he said. “This industry is getting better, smarter, stronger and safer because of technology, better training and because of our veterans.”
The leadership at Roehl nominated Campbell for the award because of his superb work.
“We are so proud of our teammate, Joe Campbell, who has won the 2019 Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award. Congratulations, Joe! Thank you for your service to our country and to Roehl Transport! And thank you to everyone who voted for Joe!” the company said in a statement.
The first runner-up was Steve Harris of Stevens Transport (Dallas), second runner-up was Wade Bumgarner of Veriha Trucking (Marinette, Wis.), and third runner-up was Chris Bacon of TMC Transportation (Des Moines, Iowa).
Harris received a $10,000 prize. Bumgarner and Bacon each received $5,000.
Officials said in the competition’s five-year history, this year marked the closest vote.
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