Knight Honors Veteran Truckers with the Fleet of Heroes
Knight Transportation is proud to recognize our veteran drivers with our Fleet of Heroes. Each Knight driver who travels in a Fleet of Heroes truck is a veteran who has been honored in an unveiling ceremony at Knight's North Office.
"Anytime I or we can do something for others is always a good thing. Being something bigger than yourself. That's what we always said in the military- doing something beyond yourself."
- Rik Reichert
What was your AFSC/job in the military?
I was a combat engineer and heavy equipment operator for 20 years. We are the first in to rebuild damaged runways and build schools. Build or rebuild, let’s put it that way! We were never the Band-Aid people— we always built from the ground up. We’ve built runways completely from the ground. It's pretty crazy looking back at some of the stuff that we’ve done, a lot of humanitarian stuff.
What made you decide to join the military?
The military was not completely in the cards, right off the bat. I had actually gone through graphic design school and was trying to do something in that realm, but my dad and grandfather both were in the military. This was at a point in the early ’90s where there wasn't a lot going on and jobs weren't really happening. My dad and I sat down and talked one day and he was like, “You know, you could at least go talk to them.” And that's how it kind of sparked and got me interested in it. The coolest part of it, even though I never really did much with the graphic design world, I still kept at it and designed squadron coins and T-shirts, and stuff like that. There is a huge mural on the wall that I retired from, which is cool. I tended to leave my mark where I could, just out of hobby. There are barricades in the Middle East right now that still have artwork that we did just as a morale thing for the unit.
How do you think the military has prepared you for a career in the civilian world?
Above all else, trucking is probably the easiest transition for somebody who deploys a lot because you’re gone a lot. So that part of it never really ended. Somebody’s at home taking care of something while you’re out taking care of the other. It was easy. And because I came from a career that operated big trucks it was even easier… I got plenty of practice because I was a trainer in the military as well. I trained a buddy of mine not too long ago. He was an aircraft maintenance officer. He basically took care of aircraft and so it was a little bit of a transition, but he went through school and he was one of the easiest trainees I’ve ever had because he just kind of came ready. And that is something that you can only get through something like the military— that devotion and “put down your head and move” attitude.
Why did you choose trucking for your career path?
I think a lot of us, as outgoing as we can tend to be, are more introverted and we like to be out and do our own thing. We work really well in a group dynamic but, out here, you are kind of your own dude and you're just doing your own thing. You’re your own boss, you're your own safety guy… Everything you learned in the military you can apply to this job as far as self-motivation and stuff like that goes.
During my last few years of the military, I remember having conversations with people saying “no matter what, even if you don’t use it, get your CDL when you get out., you’re gonna thank someone later on.” And it's always been true! If you're in a position where you can get your CDL out of the military there is no way you shouldn't do it, just because you can use it in so many places. Being in a unit like mine, I could have probably gone on to do numerous things, just because we were kind of jacks of all trades. I mean, we had mechanics laying brick with us on jobs. We had our chaplain out there on the roads with us, working with us side by side, on jobs overseas where it really mattered to have all hands on deck. We learn in our career field that we are builders. So I could've gone different ways with a little bit of confidence. But I used to always love it when we’d load up stuff on the trailers and we’d take it to another base to do construction. And I always loved being one of those guys that got to do the road stuff because it was fun! It did stick with me at the end there when I decided to do this. But, after the military, I tried different stuff. I did a few things here and there, I just didn’t want to be the “jumper.” Once you get out of the military a lot of people tend to move around and do different things because we don't really have a place in the civilian sector necessarily, unless it is something like trucking or construction. This was always going to be one of my options, even if I didn’t know it at the time. I didn’t know if I was going to like this or not. But, after my first year of being in this job, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else just because you're so integrated into everything and you're not scared of a lot of things that you are when you first start. This job is not for everybody. Once I kind of had it in me, I don’t think I could do anything else.
Where do you see yourself going now that you’re involved in the industry?
I don't really think I need to plan ahead so much. I've got my eye on the million miles. That's the goal. If you ask anybody that’s been in the military, we’re all goal-oriented. So you set little goals for yourself when you’re out here and a million miles is definitely the goal right now. And try to stay with the same company as long as I can. Knight welcomed me with open arms right out of the gate.
How do you continue to honor your military service now that you have transitioned?
I started doing Wreaths Across America back in 2019 as soon as I heard we were going to be involved in it. Little things like that. I will talk to anybody, I am on a lot of our military pages on FB and stuff like that, so I am always sharing. I am not necessarily recruiting as much as I am sharing our experiences out here and of course sharing pictures of my truck.
How has trucking influenced your life?
I went from serving the country to serving the country! I am just switching directions a little bit and still feel like I am doing something for others. Especially during the pandemic, we didn’t miss a beat. That made me feel good, that we could continue to do what we do if it's going to put food on someone’s table or bring it from the farm to the store. That kind of stuff is where I get the joy out of it. Like if we are picking up for a humanitarian thing or a charity. My next load is going to a homeless shelter. It is the little things here and there that Knight puts us on or that we find and we bring it up to the bosses. When there are hurricanes, being the people that bring water to some of these places is really cool. Even though I haven’t had the personal opportunity to do that, it's still being part of this that makes it all worthwhile. It is self-gratification, but at the same time, it's pushing forward, it's passing something on. Anytime I or we can do something for others is always a good thing. Being something bigger than yourself. That's what we always said in the military- doing something beyond yourself.
Marine Corps - Aircraft Mechanic
"One of the most valuable lessons I learned in the military is that you have to take time for family. At the end of the day, your family are the ones who are there for you all the time. I have learned this during my military service, as well as in trucking."
- Brian Thompson
What branch of the military did you serve in?
I served in the Marine Corps for 20 years. My father was in the Marine Corp, as well as a couple of my uncles. I saw what it did for them and I wanted to do the same thing.
What was daily life like?
I was an aircraft mechanic. For me, it was kind of like having a regular job. We maintained the aircraft, got weekends off... The only time things were different was when we were deployed overseas somewhere. I was deployed 7 times.
What is the greatest lesson you learned in the military?
One of the most valuable lessons I learned in the military is that you have to take time for family. At the end of the day, your family are the ones who are there for you all the time. I have learned this during my military service, as well as in trucking.
What was your favorite part about the military?
I had a certain duty that I really enjoyed, which was working five years for President Clinton. You know how they have Air Force One? I was with Marine One, which is the helicopter unit. We would transport the President, Vice President, and foreign heads of state around via helicopter.
When did you start driving?
I was actually driving while I was in the military. The Marine Corps paid for my CDL, so I got licensed and then I worked a lot of part time jobs driving trucks and tour buses.
What motivated you to become a truck driver?
Every since I was a kid, I was always fascinated with large vehicles - trucks and buses. I can remember growing up in Chicago and getting excited every time we went somewhere in the car and got on the freeway because I knew I would see trucks. I am living out my boyhood dream. Something about it was fascinating for me as a child. It was the same even in my aviation career in the military. I used to put together model planes a lot as a kid. After I joined the Marine Corps once I got older, I found myself working on some of the same aircraft that I put together in those models as a kid.
Do you have any cool experiences you would like to share?
One of the cooler experiences that I had in the military was all of the traveling that I did. I have been to 25 countries in the military career! Now, as a truck driver, I am still traveling. I have been to 45 of the 48 lower states.
Favorite part about being a truck driver?
What I really like about trucking is that you feel like you're doing something important. The side of the Fleet of Heroes trucks say, "We served our country then and we are serving our country now." And that's what I feel like. I am serving the country now, just in a different way.
Army - Network Systems Operator - Knight Driver since 2019.
"It is satisfying to be in an industry that is considered as one of the "American heroes" right now. It is cool to see the backbone and behind the scenes of everything, seeing all the distribution centers for all the big-name companies."
- Marcia Lechenbill
Marcia Luchenbill was raised in Columbus, Ohio. She joined the military in August of 2001, a month before 9/11. She met her husband while they were both serving in the military and married him in 2005. They have 3 children. Marcia was hired by Knight Transportation in December of 2019 and, by February, had her own truck. She joined the trucking industry primarily to support her family, but also loves traveling, driving, and being challenged.
Served 4 years in the Army as a network specialist.
How the military prepared her for a career:
- Discipline. You have to get up in the morning even if you don’t want to, be professional, work well with others.
- Mission attitude. You are always thinking about your mission, or your goal, and you work until that mission is accomplished.
- Adaptability. That carries over to any job, especially with truck driving.
Top trucking industry issues she's passionate about:
- Truckers against Trafficking. As a trucking industry, we can really be on the front lines and bring awareness to this issue, which is a huge global problem.
- Recycling availability. There needs to be recycling containers at truck stops.
Favorite part of working with Knight: I like adventure, I like to be in motion, I like challenges, I like travelling, I like driving. There are a lot of good benefits. I enjoy being behind the scenes of all the retailers. I like to see how all the commerce happens and everything going into it. You get to see how everyone is involved and recognize that everyone is important.
I see myself staying with it for a long time. I am going to keep working until I can’t work anymore. I have a goal to be in the million miles club.
Navy - Communications Specialist - Knight Driver since 2016.
"The military protects [our] nation and way of life, while trucks supply the goods so we can enjoy our way of life."
- Chris McCarroll
In October 2016, McCarroll started his career at Knight as a trainee. He worked as an experienced driver, a classroom instructor, a recruiter, and a driver development manager. Currently, he drives OTR.
Served 4 years in Jacksonville, FL.
Favorite piece of Navy equipment: Blue Angels - FA - 18, #7, the only Blue Angel that is a two-seater.
Favorite parts of serving:
- Having a uniform every day so you never have to pick out an outfit.
- A unique camaraderie with brothers and sisters that haven’t ever been found in a different civilian job.
- Sharing a special bond with who you’re serving with.
Favorite part of working with Knight: The people. Every department from dispatch to break down. From the mechanics to payroll. Knight hires the best talent to support the drivers and the company.
Join a veteran friendly trucking company
Finding employment can sometimes be a challenge when you return home after serving in the armed forces — but it doesn’t have to be. Start your trucking career with Knight and enjoy rewarding, mission-focused work, flexible schedules, and competitive pay. Learn more about careers for veterans at Knight by talking to a recruiter.