By Spc. Nathanial Johnson
7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
FORT WORTH, Texas— Soldiers from the III Armored Corps spent the weekend showing off weapon systems and equipment to fans Sept. 23 and 24 at Texas Motor Speedway as part of the Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 and Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 NASCAR races.
Moving military vehicles, equipment and Soldiers to a speedway nearly 200 miles from Fort Cavazos required coordination and planning efforts that took several months. Soldiers from III Armored Corps brought an M1 Abrams tank, M2A3 Bradley fighting vehicle, Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and M109A6 Paladin to the speedway, and they educated thousands of race fans on the equipment throughout the weekend.
“A lot of coordination, engagement and patience goes into a job like this,” said Col. Rachel Sullivan, III Armored Corps assistant chief of staff. Sullivan led the planning and coordination for this event. “I think there was a lot that went into working with the Texas Motor Speedway to make sure that we understood what their expectations were, as well as what some of our limitations were with what we could do here.”
Soldiers from several Fort Cavazos units stood ready to interact with fans all weekend. Whether showing a young fan how to climb into a tank or answering questions about what it is like to serve, the Soldiers were able to build connections with the local community.
“The outreach from the units involved and the locals at the race were the main reason for the effort put in by the planning team,” said Staff Sgt. Cody Law, Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. Cody provided tours of the vehicles to civilians while giving information about their purpose and ability. “Soldiers interacting with civilians and encouraging those who can serve to do so was a big message. NASCAR is a big event and has fans from all around the world bringing a lot of people to see who and what the military is.”
As drivers lined up on pit row for the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400, III Armored Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Sean Bernabe presided over the oath of enlistment for a group of 50 current and future Soldiers, which was meant to inspire others to consider military service. Bernabe considered this ceremony the highlight of the weekend.
“For me personally, I always get a little bit emotional when I issue the oath. It’s a powerful event because it’s in front of a big crowd here at the Texas Motor Speedway,” said Bernabe. “I think it’s a very significant event for these people. They will look back on this day, as the day they changed their life for the good and say, ‘You know, that was the day that I joined the United States Army that set me off on a certain path that allowed me to be successful in life,’ and that’s pretty exciting to me.”
By the time the checkered flag was waved inside the speedway, Soldiers were already packing up and preparing for the journey back to Fort Cavazos. Through temperatures soaring over 100 F all weekend, dedicated III Armored Corps Soldiers were able to create an opportunity for the American people to see Soldiers and understand their dedication to service.