American warplanes that saw service in Korea, Japan and Vietnam will participate in a pre-race flyover, and service members from Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery will get VIP treatment through the Armed Forces Foundation’s Troops to the Track program.
Three historic aircraft owned by the Hixson Museum of Flight in Hixson, Tenn., will soar over NASCAR’s most competitive track while the crowd stands in honor of America and its troops, the track announced.
“Talladega Superspeedway and our great fans both have a long and storied history of being fiercely patriotic, and we wanted to continue that patriotism this year with aircraft that have helped protect our nation,” said Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch. “We always use our pre-race ceremonies to display our proud support of America’s armed forces, and getting to do so this year with aircraft that fought in some of our country’s most historic wars will be an honor for us and our loyal fans.”
The planes are two T-28 Trojans (Alpha and Bravo) which served in Vietnam and a Beech C-45H Expeditor that saw service in Korea and Japan.
Lt. Col. Peyton “XMan” Dehart and Pete “Wheeler” O’Hare, who have both served in combat tours from Desert Storm to Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, will pilot the T-28 Trojans, which were used by the Air Force and Navy beginning in the 1950s. The C-45H Expeditor will be piloted by Gary “Mo” Franks.
The flyover will occur at the end of the singing of the national anthem prior to Sunday’s race, and shortly after, fans will see another of Talladega’s noted traditions: the presentation of the American flag flying behind a semi truck barreling around the track.
The Hixson Museum of Flight is a non-profit organization that relies solely on donations for support. The museum is dedicated to raising awareness of aviation and the role it has played in shaping America’s history. Since the museum’s inception on June 1, 2010, it has restored to flight four historically significant aircraft while raising $18,000 for a Tennessee children’s hospital. The museum plans to work on three other aircraft that have played a role in American history.
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces Foundation and NASCAR will continue the 2013 Troops to the Track program by bringing wounded service members, active duty troops, warriors in transition, veterans and military families from Maxwell to enjoy a special day of VIP activities at the racetrack.
The activities will include attendance and recognition at the drivers’ pre-race meeting, a private tour of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage, pit road access during driver introductions and the national anthem and special grandstand seating.
“Maxwell AFB has a reputation of excellence in the fields of logistics, communications, education and training,” according to an Armed Forces Foundation press release. “The goal of Maxwell AFB is to develop mission-ready airmen and operate a world-class installation.
“Members of this group have served overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Southwest Asia, Central America, Bahrain and Kyrgyzstan,” the release said.
The Armed Forces Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and advocating for active-duty military personnel, National Guardsmen, reservists, military families and veterans. Since 2001, the AFF has provided more than $75 million in assistance by covering travel, hotel rooms, home mortgages, car payments and everyday bills for families to be able to stay at their loved ones’ sides during treatment and recovery from wounds suffered during war.
Its Help Save Our Troops campaign seeks to raise awareness about the hidden wounds of war, including post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, and advocates for those troops and veterans who have suffered these hidden wounds.
The ultimate goal of Help Save Our Troops is to reduce military suicides. Through the campaign, the AFF provides counseling for military families including children, grants for therapy and addiction counseling, and a variety of recreation group therapy programs to boost morale among service members, veterans and their families