KANSAS CITY, Kan. --The 1st Infantry Division participated in a joint service enlistment and reenlistment ceremony at the Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, Kansas, on May 7, 2023.
The division was invited to conduct a reenlistment and highlight the Big Red One Year of the Noncommissioned during the Advent Health 400 series race at the Kansas City Speedway.
Soldiers arrived at the Kansas Speedway track early Sunday morning in the lead up to one of NASCAR’s biggest races. Attendees were able to interact with static military displays such piloting bomb defusing robots and wearing protective vests.
Inside the race arena, just off the green field at its center, crowds of people gathered before a large stage where Soldiers would soon be appearing.
The crowd cheered as service members walked up to the stage for a mass reenlistment. Those who were about to take the oath and reaffirm their service did so before the tens of thousands gathered before them.
“I had never been to a NASCAR event before, so to not only get to watch such an amazing event but to reenlist on a stage before the entire crowd was a truly amazing and humbling experience,” said Sgt. Donovan Evans, a culinary specialist assigned to 511th Quartermaster Company, Special Troops Battalion, 1st Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade, 1st Inf. Div.
The Oath of Reenlistment was administered by U.S. Army Brigadier Gen. Dean Thompson, Deputy Commanding General – Support, 99th Readiness Division. Over a dozen 1st Inf. Div. Soldiers stood center stage for the reenlistment ceremony, reciting the oath in front of the entire NASCAR crowd, as the ceremony being broadcasted nationally across live television.
The president of the Kansas Speedway, Pat Warren who is a 1st Inf. Div. Distinguished Trooper, thanked the 1ID for their presence and continued relationship, opening the race shortly after the reenlistment ceremony and the national anthem, performed by Master Sgt. 1st Class, Jennifer Champagne, assigned to the 1st Infantry Division Band.
“Opportunities like this provide an incredible chance for U.S. Army Soldiers to redisplay their commitment to their country while connecting with the local Kansas City community,” Pat Warren, the president of Kansas Speedway and a Fort Riley Distinguished Trooper Award recipient, said in the release.
Sgt. 1st Class Trenton J. Williams a geospatial engineer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Infantry Division Artillery, 1st Inf. Div., said he felt honored and humbled to carry the guidon for the ceremony.
“Standing on that stage and seeing everyone in the grandstands was electric,” said Staff Sgt. Adam Waddel, an M1 Armor Crewman assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.
After the closing of the reenlistment ceremony and the start of the race, Soldiers took to the stands themselves and with family to watch the 400-lap race around the Kansas Speedway and enjoy what was for many, a first time NASCAR experience.