News: NHRA driver visits JBLM
Story by Staff Sgt. David Chapman
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - A National Hot Rod Association seven-time world champion came to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 1 to visit with soldiers and try out some new training systems.
Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher, a Top Fuel dragster champion and driver for the U.S. Army car, usually spends his day going more than 300 miles an hour, but took the opportunity between races to slow down and visit JBLM soldiers while they train.
For Schumacher, being a representative for the Army is more than just a job, it is about dedication.
“No one knows commitment like soldiers.” Schumacher said. “Many people have never had to think about the people to the right and left of them like a soldier.”
While at JBLM, Schumacher visited the Mission Command Training Center and operated CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk simulators, before viewing cavalry scout training.
After a short Stryker ride to a live-fire range, Schumacher conducted hands-on training with Soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment. The scouts gave Schumacher a crash course on operating the M4 rifle before hitting the range to fire at targets.
“We travel to as many bases as we can during the race season just to say hi and to learn,” said Schumacher. “My job is driving the Army car, but what better way to talk about the Army than by coming out and seeing what these soldiers do everyday and shaking some hands. It makes this job all worth it.”
Many soldiers felt it was a privilege to have Schumacher visit them during their training.
“It surprises me when people want to come out and see what we do,” said Spc. Nicholas Neely, a cavalry scout and native of Hermitage, Ark. “But having someone famous come out here shows me that even people who have a lot are thankful and supportive of what we do.”
Schumacher’s message to the soldiers was readiness.
“I would tell soldiers that the result of the day will almost always be related to the preparation that goes into it,” he said. “There was a reason you were in basic training. There was a reason you thought you couldn’t do something, but you trained and trained and you survived. Preparation and your training is going to carry you through the toughest moments.”