With the August temperature in the 90s and the heat index closing in on 100 degrees, the command of “drink water” was heartily accepted by the formation of Soldiers standing at the Watkins Glen International Speedway. Of course, the 21 Soldiers who stood side by side preparing to reelist at the New York NASCAR racetrack had likely heard that command hundreds of times in their Army careers. However, for the 30 recruits who were preparing to take their first Oath of Enlistment, this was their first command of many to come.
Reelistments only happen a few times in a Soldier’s career, and the first Oath of Enlistment is special in itself. Both milestones represent commitment and sacrifice, making them a perfect reason to celebrate with friends and family.
This is exactly reason why Sgt. 1st Class George Farley Sr., from Horseheads, New York, helped organize the military ceremony during the Go Bowling at the Glen event on August 5. “The decision to serve, or to continue to serve, is something these future Soldiers, and current Soldiers, need to celebrate with their friends and families,”said Farley.
So before the green flag was dropped and the NASCAR drivers sped off, the Soldiers and family members were able to walk down Pit Lane to see the cars and crews up close—an experience the average fan does not get at every race.
The enlistment ceremony itself took place before, but on the same stage, as the NASCAR driver introductions. The Soldiers and recruits stood together, side by side, as they prepared to make their oaths.
The order to “raise your right hand and repeat after me,” was given by Lt. Col. David Jenkins, battalion commander, 1st Battalion, Army Reserve Careers Division, Fort Devens Massachusetts. And as those 51 voices repeated the oath, Family, friends and NASCAR fans gathered to show their support on the track’s Finish Line. As the last words of the oath finished, the gathered crowd cheered and took pictures of the special event.
|A Soldier walking down pit lane.|
As the commander of Delta ‘Dynamite’ Company, 2-389 Basic Combat Training Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 98th Training Division, I was lucky enough to witness two of my Soldiers take part in this great event. Both reenlisting, one for the last time.
Staff Sgt. Mathew Wilson, a drill sergeant of mine from Mansfield, Pennsylvania, will now pass his 20-year mark in the Army and will not raise his right hand again in a ceremony such as this.
|LTC Jenkins reads the Oath of Enlistment.|
Sgt. Christopher Anthony, another drill sergeant of mine from Afton, New York, reelisted as well with his family close by.
Neither, had ever reelisted at a racetrack before. So that was an exciting first.
The race itself was also a one of firsts. The victor, driver Chase Elliott, crossed the finish line and won a NASCAR Monster Energy Series Race for the first time in his young career.
The decision to reenlist is an awesome undertaking, one that should not be overlooked. To the 51 people who stood on that stage, and specifically to the two Soldiers in Delta Company 2-389, I say thank you to your years of service and thank you for taking on the honor of continued service to our nation.