This year’s Ride of Pride truck is a 2017 Freightliner Cascadia Evolution equipped with a Detroit DD15 engine. (PHOTO: DTNA)

This year’s Ride of Pride truck is a 2017 Freightliner Cascadia Evolution equipped with a Detroit DD15 engine. (PHOTO: DTNA)

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) presented the 2016 Ride of Pride truck to Schneider during a special ceremony commemorating military veterans.

The Ride of Pride program was founded in 2002 by Ed Keeter, a Vietnam War veteran and former shift manager at DTNA’s manufacturing plant in Cleveland, N.C., as a way to recognize military veterans.

This year’s truck is a 2017 Freightliner Cascadia Evolution equipped with a Detroit DD15 engine. The truck features a patriotic design with vivid graphics that depict epic war battle scenes, as well as badges honoring Gold Star Survivors, POW/MIA, and the Wounded Warrior Project. A special memorial plaque on each side of the cab honors deceased veterans.

“The Ride of Pride truck is something that our team is proud to build and be associated with,” said Henning O. Bruns, plant manager of DTNA’s Cleveland Truck Manufacturing Plant. “This year’s truck truly showcases that pride, and the amount of respect we all have for our service men and women, and their families. All Ride of Pride trucks in the past 14 years have been proudly built by the Cleveland team, which is completely assembled today here at our handover ceremony.”

The truck, which was designed by HPG Hyperformance Graphics in Hickory, N.C., and built at the Cleveland Truck Manufacturing plant, will serve as a rolling memorial in Schneider’s fleet of more than 10,000 vehicles.

Schneider driver Jon Ritscher of Crown City, Ohio, has been selected to drive this year’s Ride of Pride. Ritscher has driven with Schneider since July 2013 in the Van Truckload NE Regional division. He previously spent eight years in the U.S. Army as a petroleum supply specialist and used his GI Bill to obtain his Commercial Driver’s License. Because Schneider has been accepted into the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ exclusive Apprenticeship Program, Ritscher was also able to earn a monthly educational benefit check during his first full year as a driver.

Ritscher, who completed two tours in Iraq, has a sense of nostalgia when he looks at his new tractor as he has manned the convoys depicted on the passenger side of the truck while he was in Iraq.

“I can’t believe I get the privilege of driving this beautiful truck for a year,” Ritscher shared. “Yet the truck doesn’t really belong to Schneider or to me; it really belongs to everyone who has served or has family who served. I look forward to the new experiences I will have with this truck and particularly all the interactions I’ll have with the people who come to spend time with it.”

“We at Schneider are so grateful that Freightliner Trucks once again chose us to receive the Ride of Pride,” said Rob Reich, Schneider senior vice president of equipment, maintenance, and driver recruiting and U.S. Army veteran. “This year’s truck is yet another way we can express our military support and commitment to hiring those with military experience into our ranks. We couldn’t be more proud and excited to showcase it across the U.S. in the coming year.”

This is the seventh Ride of Pride truck in the Schneider fleet. Schneider also has two Canadian military-themed tractors in operation.