Army, Navy veteran named a Trucking’s Top Rookie finalist

Brian College’s father was an owner-operator steel hauler all his life, prompting College to go into the military to learn mechanics largely so he could help him.

“I joined the Army to learn how to be a mechanic, so I could work on his truck,” College said.

Now College, who lives in Bedford, Pennsylvania, doesn’t just know how to work on trucks. These days, he drives one of his own as a company driver for Carbon Express. He was recently named a 2016 Trucking’s Top Rookie finalist. The winner will be named at the Great American Trucking Show Friday afternoon.

College hauls a tanker in a day cab for Carbon Express, driving as far west as eastern Illinois. The company puts him up in hotels at night for rest, and then he’s back on the road the next day. College says he wants to carry on his father’s legacy.

“My father was a great role model for me to follow and truly reflected a time when truck drivers were respected on the highways,” College said. “I will follow his example and do everything I can to make trucking a respected career again. I might be one person, but I can set an example for others to follow.” 

College served in the U.S. Army for four years and then the U.S. Navy for another 16 years. While in the army, he served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He also served a year in South Korea. Once in the Navy, he did four tours on four Navy aircraft carriers.

He played various roles during his time in the military, and was recognized for his efforts. College received: the U.S. Navy Good Conduct Medal, two National Defense Service Medals, the Global War on Terror Service Medal, the Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, three Southwest Asia Service Medals, the Kuwait Liberation Media and a Marksman Badge for Rifle M-16.

Brian CollegeBrian College

College thought he was done with awards after retiring from the military. He was pleasantly surprised when he learned his company had nominated him for the Trucking’s Top Rookie award, and then again when he learned he’d been named as a finalist for the award.

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“I’m very honored they thought of me in that way, to put me in,” College said.

John Bowlby, director of safety and human resources for Carbon Express, said College does such a great job with the company’s specialized work with liquid bulk tanks that it’s hard to believe he’s a new driver. Bowlby nominated College for the Trucking’s Top Rookie.

“We are proud to have Brian as a member of the Carbon family and we plan on Brian retiring from Carbon just as he did with the Navy,” Bowlby said. “Trucking has always been in Brian’s blood from his father. He has made his father proud of his military service and now his father is just as proud that he followed in his footsteps to drive a truck.”

When College isn’t trucking, he’s spending time with his father, who is now 79, helping him work on his collection of John Deere tractors. The earliest tractor College remembers is a model John Deere G his father purchased in 1974. Since then, his father has collected a few more. When College would come home on military leave, he’d swing by and help work on them. They fix them up and take them to shows.

College says he’d like to start collecting a few of his own.

“My goal is to have one or two or four of my own one day; we’ll see,” College said.

The winner of the Trucking’s Top Rookie award will be announced during ceremonies at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas this week, and will receive $10,000 and a package of prizes. 

The eight runners up will receive $1,000 and other prizes as well.

The Trucking’s Top Rookie contest is a partnership between “Truckers News” and the Truckload Carriers Association. Sponsors and supporters include the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, Rand McNally, Pilot Flying J, Progressive Commercial Insurance, National Association of Publicly Funded Driving Schools, Professional Truck Driver Institute, American Trucking Associations, Cobra and the Red Eye Radio Network.

The winner receives:

  • $10,000 cash
  • $1,000 cash and 100,000 Pilot Flying J MyReward points
  • A custom plaque from Award Company of America 
  • Interview on Red Eye Radio Network with Eric Harley
  • A feature in “Truckers News”
  • $1,000 worth of DAS Products merchandise featuring the RoadPro Getting Started Living On-The-Go Package
  • An American Trucking Associations prize package, which includes a polo shirt with logo, baseball cap, model truck and utility knife
  • A GPS unit and a Motor Carrier Road Atlas from Rand McNally
  • A dash cam and CB radio from Cobra

The eight other finalists receive:

  • $1,000 cash
  • 50,000 MyRewards points from Pilot Flying J
  • A custom plaque from Award Company of America
  • $100 worth of DAS Products Merchandise, featuring the RoadPro MobileSpec Portable Life Package
  • An American Trucking Associations prize package which includes a polo shirt with logo, baseball cap, model truck and utility knife
  • A GPS unit from Rand McNally
  • A CB radio from Cobra

The award is named for the late Mike O’Connell was formerly the executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, and originated the idea of honoring a top rookie driver to help show new drivers they are important to and appreciated by the trucking industry.