Retired Army Officer Realizes Lifelong Dream to Drive a Big Rig
After serving nearly 30 years in the U.S. military with a distinguished record, Lt. Col. Gregg Softy didn’t go to work for a military contractor or go into law enforcement when he retired. Instead, he chose to follow his lifelong dream of driving a big rig.
Ever since he was a kid, Gregg says he has been enamored with trucks, truck drivers and the industry. At the age of 6, he visited the Vince Lombardi Memorial truck stop in New Jersey and asked truck drivers for their autographs.
But that dream took a backseat to his career as a U.S. Army officer after he attended and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. For 28 years, Gregg served in the U.S. Army, became an Airborne Ranger and was deployed six times for overseas missions in Iraq and Kuwait, Haiti, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya. During his nearly three decades of service, he earned three bronze stars, a Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious service medal, and a number of other service and combat badges, decorations and medals.
As he approached retirement age, Softy considered some post-military second career options, but always came back to his lifelong dream of becoming a truck driver. After discussing it with his wife, Gregg chose to take advantage of Stevens Transport’s Operation Patriot apprenticeship program, which is approved by IMCOM (the U.S. Army’s Installation Management Command).
Program Allows Soldiers to Complete Driver Training While on Active Duty
The program allowed Gregg to complete his driver training in Ranger, Texas, and obtain his CDL, while still serving in the military. Available to active duty soldiers on several military installations, Stevens Transport covers the cost of training. Then, when the soldiers retire or complete their tour of duty, they can go to work for Stevens, which pays them up to $50,000 in the first year. A soldier-turned-driver can also earn an additional apprenticeship bonus of a little over $20,000. Here are links to some additional information about Stevens Transport’s program for veterans – visit http://www.becomeadriver.com/veterans/ or http://info.stevenstransport.com/stevens-military-vet-hiring-ub/
Last year after he started driving for Stevens Transport, Gregg first learned at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas that he was chosen as one of three finalists out of a field of more than 10,000 nominations for the 2017 Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award. The award is sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Program, FASTPORT and Kenworth.
Then in December, a little over a week before Christmas, Gregg learned he had been chosen for the top military veteran rookie driver honor during a special ceremony at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.
Nearly 50 Years Later, Santa’s Elves Make Bigger Truck for Retired Army Officer
At that ceremony, in a scene somewhat reminiscent of a Christmas nearly a half century earlier when Gregg’s parents gave him a big toy truck at the age of 4, Kenworth presented him the real thing. It was a new Kenworth T680 Advantage equipped with a fuel-efficient 455-hp PACCAR MX-13 engine and a 76-inch sleeper featuring the Kenworth Driver Studio Package.
Recently, Land Line Magazine, the official publication of the Owner-Operators and Independent Drivers Association, published a story about Gregg.
In that story, Land Line staff writer Mark Schremmer talked with Gregg and learned about Gregg’s transition from company driver to owner-operator and his plans to start a trucking company with an Army buddy. And when Gregg started talking about his stepson, and how his stepson fulfilled his own dream of being a part of a national college football championship team following his tour of duty, Mark says “it definitely caught my attention”.
“Before I started working at Land Line, I worked as a sports writer for a couple of different newspapers,” he says.
Before Pursuing His Dream, Gregg Watches as Stepson Realizes His Own Dream
And as a sportswriter, Mark immediately recognized the name of his stepson – Brennan Goodnature, a walk-on to the former national champion Clemson Tigers football team during his last year of athletic eligibility. To learn more about what role Gregg played in Brennan’s life, check out the story ESPN wrote about Brennan in December 2015.
Now talk about a story worthy of a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie.