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    Fallen Paratrooper Honored by NASCAR Driver

    FORT BRAGG, NC, UNITED STATES

    04.17.2019

    Story by Spc. Justin Stafford 

    49th Public Affairs Detachment

    NASCAR driver Ryan Newman visited Fort Bragg on April 17, 2019 to unveil the car he will drive during the Coca-Cola 600 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway slated for Memorial Day weekend.

    The visit was part of Mission 600, a cooperative effort with the U.S. Department of Defense to bring NASCAR drivers to military bases before the race in Charlotte.

    Drivers honor fallen servicemen and servicewomen by putting their names across the windshield of the racecar, which is a part of the 600 Miles of Remembrance program at the race.

    Newman revealed the paint scheme of his car and dedicated it to Sgt. James Nolen, a Paratrooper killed in action on Nov. 22, 2009 while serving in Afghanistan with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.

    Newman fought back tears after receiving a handmade card from Nolen’s young daughter and another gift from his wife on Pike Field. He said it made him think of his own children.

    Nolen’s wife was 4 months pregnant when her husband was killed.

    “It will be an honor to drive for Sgt. Nolen from the 82nd Airborne,” said Newman. “I’m proud to represent all fallen soldiers.”

    After the emotional gift exchange, Paratroopers provided hands- on experiences demonstrating their capabilities, responsiveness and readiness to employ their forces anywhere in the world.

    Newman tried on infantry gear and engaged an offer to lay in the prone position and change the barrel of an M240.

    Paratroopers demonstrated how they employ an M777 howitzer, as well as gave the Gold Star Family and Newman a ride in a tactical all-terrain vehicle around Pike Field.

    After engaging with Paratroopers, Newman and others gathered around a cloaked stock car for the welcoming brief and presentations.

    Greg Walter, the executive vice president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway, thanked Lt. Col. Terry Hilderbrand, from the 82nd Abn. Div. for hosting the event.

    Walter said he was humbled that he and his team could get a glimpse into the life of a Paratrooper.

    “The 600 is a special moment for us,” said Walter. “This is the only sport that I know that takes the time to honor the fallen and it’s particularly poignant on Memorial Day weekend.”

    The wife and daughter of Nolen assisted Newman in pulling back the black car cover to reveal a bright orange Ford Mustang with the fallen Paratroopers name across its windshield.

    Hilderbrand said Nolen was part of what he calls the 9/11 generation; a generation of people who saw their country attacked and volunteered to do something.

    “Nolen became part of the less than one percent that volunteered to stand in the gap between the evil that’s out there and our American values,” said Hilderbrand. “Nolen will forever be remembered in the legacy and the history of the 82nd Abn. Div.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 04.17.2019
    Date Posted: 04.18.2019 12:40
    Story ID: 318677
    Location: FORT BRAGG, NC, US 

    Web Views: 84
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    Fallen Paratrooper Honored by NASCAR Driver