Daimler Trucks North America employees transform 2011 Cascadia® into traveling tribute to veterans
CLEVELAND, N.C. – Employees at Daimler Trucks North America’s Freightliner Truck manufacturing plant in Cleveland, N.C have customized a Cascadia® model truck with a Detroit Diesel DD15® engine, creating an eye-popping, super-sized symbol of the company’s respect for veterans. This is the ninth year plant employees have volunteered their time to help coordinate the truck design, local outreach and a 400-mile ride from the plant to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. for the Ride of Pride project.
This year’s Ride of Pride artwork is designed to show support for active duty personnel, retirees and families who have lost someone in service to the country, as well as for prisoners of war and those still missing in action.
The one-of-a-kind Freightliner Ride of Pride truck will be escorted by hundreds of motorcyclists as part of an annual Memorial Day ceremony honoring veterans, POWs and MIAs. Before its Memorial Day weekend trip to join Rolling Thunder, a national motorcyclist group that honors veterans, the truck toured North Carolina, making stops to pay tribute in several communities.
Ed Keeter, formerly a shift manager at Freightliner’s Cleveland truck manufacturing plant and a veteran of the Vietnam War, proposed the project in 2001 when he and other employees were looking for a way to honor veterans as Memorial Day approached. “It is exciting to be affiliated with a company that is so dedicated to its employees, the community, and vets past and present,” Keeter said. Initially the idea was to decorate a Freightliner truck and drive it to the local veterans’ hospital for a visit. “With the support of our plant manager, parent company, vendor partners and the community, the idea just blossomed,” he said. Keeter, who retired from the company in 2009, continues to serve as project lead, assisted by George Drexel, who is a Freightliner employee and also is a Vietnam veteran.
The truck, which is owned by Schneider National, Inc., of Green Bay, Wis., will be added to the company’s nationwide fleet of more than 10,000 trucks. “It’s very gratifying to have our organization selected to commandeer the Ride of Pride truck for a third time in its history,” said Schneider National vice president Mike Hinz. “The 2011 truck joins the 2007 and 2008 trucks, which have become rolling tributes to the U.S. military, conveying how both of our organizations feel about those who make the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country's freedoms. We are indeed honored to have these trucks in our fleet and we pledge to showcase them – both at events and on our nation's highways – to make our great service men and women proud."
Jeff Edwards, a London, Ky.-based driver for Schneider National, has been chosen as the driver for this year’s Ride of Pride. Edwards, who has worked at Schneider since 2006, served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 12 years, and was called to active duty in Iraq in 2003. “It is a special honor to be able to drive this truck and to support those in the Armed Forces,” said Edwards, “and to work for a company that is so supportive of the men and women who serve their country through military service.”
The journey to Washington D.C. began with a send-off ceremony at the plant at 7:00 a.m. Friday, May 27, and included guest speakers and local dignitaries.
On Sunday, May 29, the group will join a procession through the capital with nearly a million motorcyclists participating in the Ride for Freedom, which is sponsored by Rolling Thunder, a national non-profit with 80 chapters dedicated to publicizing POW-MIA issues.
About Daimler Trucks North America
Freightliner Trucks is a division of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, and is the leading heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America. Daimler Trucks North America produces and markets Class 4-8 trucks and is a Daimler company, the world's leading commercial vehicle manufacturer.
About Schneider National, Inc.
Schneider National offers exceptional career paths for professional drivers and truck school graduates. Solo and team opportunities exist for company drivers and owner-operators in Schneider’s regional, over the road, dedicated, tanker and expedited lines of business. Local and regional solo opportunities also exist for company drivers in Schneider’s intermodal division.
A $3.1 billion company and one of the largest truckload carriers in North America, Schneider has been a top choice for drivers for 75 years. Schneider provides drivers great weekly miles, steady freight and the comfort of knowing that “safety first and always” is the cornerstone of the company’s philosophy. Schneider is ranked a top-paying carrier by the National Transportation Institute and has been nationally recognized for its support of veterans, Reservists and National Guard members. For more information about Schneider National career opportunities, visit www.schneiderjobs.com. You can also connect with Schneider on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jobsatschneider and Twitter at www.twitter.com/schneiderjobs.