Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark gave thousands of commands every day of his 38 years of military service.
He gave the most important command of any auto race when he served as the grand marshal of the Coke Zero 400. Clark, the former commander of NATO, ordered drivers to start their engines to complete one of the strongest military involvements in the history of NASCAR’s July race.
“I really appreciate NASCAR honoring our men and women who served,” he said during a news conference before the race. “It’s a tremendous thing they’re doing in honoring our veterans. They’re a volunteer force and they serve because they love this country and want to be a part of something larger than themselves. It’s wonderful that NASCAR honors then, especially on this weekend.”
In addition to Clark’s participation, Navy Band Southeast, based at NAS Jacksonville, performed the National Anthem. The grand marshal for the Xfinity race is chairman of the board for Greater Jacksonville USO, retired U.S. Navy Capt. Bob Buehn.
Sailors from the Navy Littoral Combat Ship crews 114 and 115, based at Naval Station Mayport, received special recognition.
NASCAR also honored three Medal of Honor winners and Vietnam veterans, Capt. Thomas Kelley (Navy), Sgt. Major Gary Littrell (Army) and Col. Walter Marm (Army).
“I don’t think you’ll find a sport more patriotic than NASCAR,” said car owner Richard Childress, who appeared at the news conference with Gen. Clark and his grandson and driver Austin Dillon. “We love our country and we love honoring those who had sacrificed greatly for this country.”
The flyover was conducted by two Navy F-5 CFC-111 Sundowner jets, based at NAS Key West.
Ragan hosts Shriners patient
For the second consecutive year, race driver David Ragan played host to a patient from Shriners Hospital for the entire weekend.
Riley Desin of Winter Garden has been through “dozens” of surgeries to repair bone spurs. But on Friday and Saturday, he was given complete access to the garage area and pit road.
“The best thing was meeting David and seeing these cars up front,” Desin said. “This has been incredible. I’ve been everywhere with David.”
Ragan took his guest to the drivers meeting, and Desin joined the driver during introductions.
Desin then watched the race from Ragan’s pit stall.
“I’m a Shriner, so this is important to me,” Ragan said. “I also have two children. It makes you appreciate the fact they’re healthy. And it makes me want to help other children feel that way, too.”
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Karl Munson pilots a 26-foot boat while Petty Officer 2nd Class Gabriel Diaz keeps an eye on a boarding team who is inspecting a 79-foot shrimp boat in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of New Orleans, La., on April 27, 2005
Radio transmissions to the U.S. Coast Guard are usually calls for help from boaters, but one captain got on the radio recently just to say thanks to the men and women who are currently working without pay.
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Saturday to receive the remains of four Americans killed in a suicide bombing in northern Syria.
Trump, locked in a battle with congressional Democrats that has led to a nearly month-long partial government shutdown, announced his trip via a pre-dawn tweet, saying he was going "to be with the families of 4 very special people who lost their lives in service to our Country!"
Former President George W. Bush is calling for an end to the partial government shutdown, which is about to hit the one-month mark and is currently the longest shutdown in US history.
In an appeal made on Instagram, the 43rd president called on "leaders on both sides to put politics aside, come together, and end this shutdown." The caption was posted with an image of him and former First Lady Laura Bush giving pizza to their Secret Service detail.