Thursday, May 25, 2017

Army Spc. James "Jimmy" Beckstrand : Remembering Their Names

Army Spc. James "Jimmy" Beckstrand : Remembering Their Names

NASCAR Salutes Service Members With Windshield Tributes

Jimmy Lee Beckstrand - #NASCAR
Jimmy Lee Beckstrand
As we prepare in these wee hours of the morning for our exciting trip to the Charlotte Motor Speedway (thanks to all my friends’ votes #HisenseDualThreat) my gleeful thoughts drifted to my memories of my hometown fallen hero.

For the third consecutive year, windshield headers on all forty Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars will be replaced with the names of fallen military service members during Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.

“There is no prouder moment for our sport than when the entire NASCAR family rallies to honor and pay tribute to the United States Armed Forces,” said Brent Dewar, NASCAR chief operating officer. “NASCAR Salutes continues to grow thanks to the support of our industry and partners who believe just as strongly in recognizing those who’ve served and continue to serve today.” 

Army Spc. James "Jimmy" Beckstrand : Remembering Their Names

Many of the service members whose names will be displayed on the race cars Sunday were chosen by the race teams, including some with unique connections to the fallen. U.S. Army sergeant Gregory Allen Belanger, who was killed in Hallia, Iraq in 2003, was a friend of Team Penske employee Darin Russell, engine tuner for Ryan Blaney’s No. 21 Ford Fusion.

Harold Tussey, whose name will be proudly displayed on Paul Menard’s No. 27 Chevrolet SS, lost his life in the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The third-class petty officer’s great nephew, Troy Tussey, is a mechanic with Richard Childress Racing. 

Here is my personal story:

Jimmy Lee Beckstrand was an audacious preteen in the late eighties, a year younger than my oldest son Moses and a year older than my youngest Zachariah. I remember the laughter as the three bounded through the doors looking for a drink of water after playing outside in the cul-de-sac for as long as they could under the warm California sun.

I have to laugh as I recall the night Jimmy and Zack spent the night in a makeshift tent they had pitched in our backyard grass. My husband Paul, waited till after midnight and after their giggly noise faded to creep outside and pretend to be a bear to scare them.

After high school, the three childhood chums set out to make their mark in the world in their own unique way. A few years later, I spotted Jimmy walking uphill towards his father’s house, dressed in his uniform. As I ran outside to say “hi,” I could not contain my awe and surprise. Jimmy Lee looked great and held himself with extreme confidence. I joked that his beloved roller blades would not be an acceptable fashion accessory for his current look.

That was the last time I spoke to Army Spc. James "Jimmy" Beckstrand. On April 29, 2004, during a four-month extension of duty, Jimmy and seven other soldiers from his unit, the 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Division out of Baumholder, Germany, were killed when their convoy was attacked and a car bomb exploded near them. Jimmy Lee was just twenty-seven years old and a newlywed. He earned a Purple Heart medal for wounds received in action, and a Bronze Star medal for meritorious service and for his ultimate sacrifice.

NASCAR Race Mom is extremely grateful to all American citizens and businesses for remembering and honoring the true expense our military families pay to protect our rights and freedoms.

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