Martin/DEI honor Texas soldier

Texas Soldier Honored for Heroism Will be Guest of U.S. Army NASCAR Team FORT WORTH, Texas (April 1, 2008) -- Mark Martin and the United States Army NASCAR team will have an added incentive at this weekend's Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor ...

Texas Soldier Honored for Heroism Will be Guest of U.S. Army NASCAR Team

FORT WORTH, Texas (April 1, 2008) -- Mark Martin and the United States Army NASCAR team will have an added incentive at this weekend's Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Along with the Army's prerace pageantry for Sunday's Samsung 500, the No. 8 team will be introduced to a special guest - Staff Sergeant Kenneth Thomas -- a hometown hero from Utopia, Texas, located approximately 85 miles northwest of San Antonio.

Thomas, 23, a member of the Army's 1st Cavalry Division out of Ft. Hood, Texas, was awarded the Silver Star, a decoration for gallantry in combat.

Thomas' heroic action on Feb. 16, 2007 resulted in a number of his comrades' lives being saved while his boat patrol platoon was under attack by heavy enemy fire on the Tigris River -- 20 miles north of Baghdad.

"I got so excited when I was told that I would be going to a NASCAR race," said Thomas, who joined the Army following his 2002 graduation from Utopia High School. "This is really an honor for me. I've seen races on television and they look like a lot of fun. I just can't wait to get there."

Thomas will be accompanied to Sunday's race by his platoon sergeant in Iraq -- Sgt. 1st Class Allen Johns.

"When I hear stories about our soldiers like Mr. Thomas, I do sit back and reflect about what an awesome honor it is to wear the Army uniform," said Martin, a 35-time NASCAR Cup winner. "I am so proud to represent our soldiers and drive their car."

The Army will also have a visible presence during Sunday's national anthem. The 36th Infantry Division Band out of Austin, Texas will play The Star Spangled Banner while 50 Army Reserve and Army National Guard soldiers from Ft. Worth will hold the 30-by-60-foot flags of the United States and Texas.

The 1st Cavalry Division from Ft. Hood will provide the color guard for the national anthem along with 56 soldiers, who will hold the state and territory flags.

-credit: dei

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers John Allen , Mark Martin