Over a decade and a half ago, Freightliner shift manager and Vietnam War veteran Ed Keeter proposed a special project as a way to honor current and prior members of the U.S. military: custom-build a unique highway tractor every year decorated with one-of-a-kind graphics highlighting the history and heroism of America’s fighting forces.

In the last 15 years, a goodly number of those “tribute trucks,” which became widely known as ‘Ride of Pride’ tractors, ended up at Green Bay, WI-based truckload carrier Schneider—nine U.S. Ride of Pride trucks in 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and now 2017 as well as two Canadian Ride of Pride trucks in 2011 and 2015, which honor the military men and women who served under the Maple Leaf flag.

But Schneider doesn’t deploy its one-of-kind Ride of Pride tractors into regular freight service straightaway. First, those trucks spend 12 months traveling all around the United States to a wide variety of military-themed events—everything from parades to funerals—as well as hauling freight. Following that year of service, those trucks will often be called upon for special service, such as delivering wreaths to military graveyards.

The truckload carrier also doesn’t assign its Ride of Pride tractors to just any driver within its ranks; rather, the more than 28% of Schneider drivers who are military veterans or actively serving in the Armed Forces get a chance to apply for the opportunity to helm a Ride of Pride  tractor.

American Trucker has had a chance to spend some time with a few of Schneider’s Ride of Pride drivers, a select group of veterans who were all in agreement that the emotional impact of driving these very special trucks exceeded anything they ever expected, with a “huge responsibility” attached to operating them.