Indy Motor Speedway Salutes New Recruits
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
INDIANAPOLIS, May 18, 2008 While race car drivers sped around the track trying to bump slower competitors out of next week’s 92nd Indianapolis 500 lineup, 55 military recruits took a step to shift their lives into high gear.
Mindy Andrews, right hand raised, takes the oath of enlistment from U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana during a ceremony at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Andrews was one of 55 Hoosiers to take part in the annual "Bump Day" tradition. Defense Dept. photo by Samantha L. Quigley
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Coinciding with “Bump Day,” the last day of timed driver qualifications, the track hosted its Armed Forces Day celebration. The day included a military band, an F-16 flyover by the 122nd Fighter Wing of the Indiana Air National Guard and the annual trackside enlistment ceremony.
“Our armed forces have the … ability to make a supreme difference,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, who administered the oath of enlistment. “I thank these young people for their service every day.”
Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communication and public liaison, offered her thanks and encouragement as well.
“At no time in our nation’s history have we seen more support for our men and women in the military than we do today,” she told the recruits and their families and friends. “That’s a good news story for all of us.”
Barber went on to tell the recruits about a friend who originally enlisted in the Army with thoughts of serving for just a few years. Just last week that friend was promoted to the rank of general.
“She’s an example of what Abraham Lincoln meant when he said, ‘Whatever you are, be a good one,’” Barber said. “Whether you’re joining for a few years or if you’re going to stay to be a general, I ask you to be a good one.”
Mindy Andrews said she’s joining the Navy to be a better mom to her 17-month-old daughter.
“I’m a single mom,” the 26-year-old from Shelbyville, Ind., said. “I have a little girl [and] I want her to have a real positive, strong, female role model.”
Other recruits said they realized the military was the right choice for them and now was the right time to enlist.
“Things at home were kind of slowing down,” said Jerad Maxwell, who chose to join the Coast Guard. “I’m not really getting anywhere with school or my job, so I figured I better go in the military.”
The Fort Wayne, Ind., volunteer firefighter enjoys responding to emergency situations and staying in the country was important to him. “So I kind of figured the Coast Guard was for me,” he said.
One recruit in particular said had always known he wanted to enlist in the Army. He just had to wait until he was old enough.
“I’ve always wanted to be in the Army, ever since I was in first grade with my friend … We’d play Army in the backyard,” said Devon Pollard, an Army National Guard enlistee from Indianapolis. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Pollard, who enlisted through the Delayed Entry Program, will spend the summer before his high school senior year in basic training at Fort Benning, Ga.
He’s not bemoaning the fact, though. In fact, Pollard was so enthusiastic about the enlistment ceremony that he had trouble finding words to express himself. “I’m honored. I’m actually speechless,” he said. “I don’t know what else to say.”
Nickolas Stafford of Martinsville, Ind., who enlisted in the Marine Corps today, didn’t have that problem.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I couldn’t pass it up,” he said, adding that the ceremony was his first trip to the Indianapolis track. “It’s really quite awesome.”
Today’s ceremony concluded with a medley of the service anthems before cars reemerged on the track to continue their dizzying laps.