For the fourth year in a row, Pilot Flying J is celebrating the unsung heroes of our nation’s roadways – the professional drivers that keep our country moving. Read more details on past winners.
Jacqueline Rocha is a dedicated advocate for professional driving with ambitious plans to start a nonprofit organization aimed at recruiting young women in the industry. Rocha’s love for keeping America moving forward and the camaraderie she's built with other drivers on the road inspired her goal to create an educational support system for millennials interested in pro driving. Since graduating with her commercial driver’s license at the age of 21, she’s been passionate about encouraging her generation and females alike to consider careers in trucking while also learning all she can from other veteran drivers.
Kevin Mailand, who was nominated by his wife, is a second-generation long-haul driver with 30+ years of professional driving experience. With more than two million miles of safe driving logged with his current company, Mailand has earned the nickname “Knight of the Highway” for his willingness to help fellow drivers across the country. Even after being diagnosed with stage three esophageal cancer and undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and major surgery, Mailand maintains his love for the industry and is still driving professionally.
Charles Johnson earned his Road Warrior stripes for his 43 years of professional driving experience. He has driven through all 50 states and all providences of Canada, at one point or another. His career highlights include driving through Glacier National Park into Canada during the winter, driving for the U.S. Army, holding his company’s record for highest on-time delivery at 98% and training more than 500 professional drivers.
Last year, Pilot Flying J named Oceanside, CA resident Erik Michaels as its 2015 Road Warrior grand prize winner. Michaels has been a long-haul professional driver for more than 46 years. Roughly three years ago, Michaels endured a major stroke while on the job, causing temporary paralysis and loss of motor skills. After months of hospital stays, he embarked on the long road to recovery, which was comprised of countless doctor visits and physical therapy sessions. Just recently, Michaels made a full recovery and is back to doing what he loves most – driving professionally.
Kyle Cones, a U.S. Army veteran and professional driver, was named the 2014 Road Warrior winner. Cones has been recognized for his commitment to safety, as well as to his fellow drivers, family and country. After Cones was injured in Afghanistan, his job choices were limited, until he realized that driving a truck was the perfect lifestyle and career opportunity for him.