• KILLEEN, Texas - Retired Chief Warrant Officer Vernon 'Buck' Owens, a native of Cedar Park, Texas, gears up for his feature race during opening night at Texas Thunder Speedway, March12. Owens drives his stock car in support of Racing Against Drugs, and has the First Strike crest painted on the trunk as a thank you for the support from the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade, that helped him prepare his car for the race.

    KILLEEN, Texas - Retired Chief Warrant Officer...

    KILLEEN, Texas - Retired Chief Warrant Officer Vernon 'Buck' Owens, a native of Cedar Park, Texas, gears up for his feature race during opening night at Texas Thunder Speedway, March12. Owens drives his stock car in support of Racing Against Drugs, and...

  • KILLEEN, Texas- Retired Chief Warrant Officer Vernon 'Buck' Owens, from Cedar Park, Texas, waits in line for the debris on the speedway to clear during his feature stock car race at the opening night during the Texas Thunder Speedway, March12. Owens drives his car in support of Racing Against Drugs, and has the First Strike crest painted on the trunk as a thank you to the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade.

    KILLEEN, Texas- Retired Chief Warrant Officer...

    KILLEEN, Texas- Retired Chief Warrant Officer Vernon 'Buck' Owens, from Cedar Park, Texas, waits in line for the debris on the speedway to clear during his feature stock car race at the opening night during the Texas Thunder Speedway, March12. Owens...

  • KILLEEN, Texas- Vernon 'Buck' Owens, a native of Cedar Park, Texas, and a retired Chief Warrant Officer, speeds past car number 29 during his feature stock car race opening night at Texas Thunder Speedway, March12. Owens placed 10 out of 18 drivers in his category and drives his car in support of Racing Against Drugs. Owens painted the First Strike on the trunk to show support for the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade.

    KILLEEN, Texas- Vernon 'Buck' Owens, a native...

    KILLEEN, Texas- Vernon 'Buck' Owens, a native of Cedar Park, Texas, and a retired Chief Warrant Officer, speeds past car number 29 during his feature stock car race opening night at Texas Thunder Speedway, March12. Owens placed 10 out of 18 drivers in...

  • KILLEEN, Texas - Retired Chief Warrant Officer Vernon 'Buck' Owens, from Cedar Park, Texas, drives his stock car supporting Racing Against Drugs during opening night at Texas Thunder Speedway, March12.  Eight Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade, helped Owens get the car ready for the race and Owens painted the First Strike crest on the trunk to show his support for the battalion.

    KILLEEN, Texas - Retired Chief Warrant Officer...

    KILLEEN, Texas - Retired Chief Warrant Officer Vernon 'Buck' Owens, from Cedar Park, Texas, drives his stock car supporting Racing Against Drugs during opening night at Texas Thunder Speedway, March12. Eight Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 21st Field...

KILLEEN, Texas - The roars of the engines and the cheers from the audience could be heard for miles as the patrons of the Texas Thunder Speedway celebrated its opening night, and driver of stock car number eight, Buck Owens, circled the track avoiding crashes and debris, March 12.

The number eight car is special to the 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment because painted on its trunk is the First Strike logo and the names of the First Strike Soldiers who helped get the car together and race ready.

Vernon 'Buck' Owens, a native of Cedar Park, Texas, and a retired Chief Warrant Officer, has been racing for 46 years, and chose First Strike because his son-in-law is in Battery C, 1st Bat., 21st FA Regt., and his daughter is the family readiness group leader. Owens gives a lot of credit to the eight Soldiers who helped him get his car ready for racing and immortalized their names by painting them on the car.

"I enjoyed the Soldiers coming out to help me," said Owens. "I had a lot of good help from them and if it wasn't for them, we would not be out here right now and I would still be working on the car."

Owens raced against 18 other stock cars and came in 10th place at the feature race. Owens drives for a not-for-profit group called Racing Against Drugs, which helps teach kids to stay on the track away from drugs, and First Strike wanted to volunteer for the organization and help Owens spread the message.

Lt. Col. James Davel, originally from Shawano, Wis., and commander of 1st Bat., 21st FA Regt., 41st Fires Brigade, said that he is proud of the Soldiers for supporting the group, and says that volunteering shows a lot about the Soldiers character.

"Racing Against Drugs is a great program that not only benefits our Soldiers but the community, and we appreciate being asked to help support this outstanding cause," said Davel. "Our soldiers were able to help this race team accomplish what they wanted to accomplish and a lot of good came out of it. They got to be a part of the process in building and supporting the car and Racing Against Drugs. These are good soldiers that helped support the car and they understand the message the organization is trying to get across to the community."

Sgt. Jody Wheeler, from Syracuse, N.Y., and Multiple Launch Rocket System launcher chief for Btry. C, 1st Battalion, 21st FA Regt., is the son-in-law of Owens and said he enjoys working on the car with his father-in law.

"I volunteered because I wanted to help support my father-in-law and Racing Against Drugs. I helped with the shocks, some body work, and helped maintain the car after the races," said Wheeler. "I put the information about the car out throughout the brigade and received a great response from everyone about helping. We plan on racing every weekend and enjoy the support."

The Soldiers that volunteered were able to support a great cause and have fun in the process. Volunteering and organizational support by battalions shows a lot about Soldiers and about the brigade as a whole. First Strike Soldiers continue to support the community through various organizations and understand the importance of taking the time out to help others.

Page last updated Wed March 16th, 2011 at 11:46