NASCAR recognizes hometown Marine
By SSgt. Jay W. Lamborn
| | March 16, 2002
6TH MARINE CORPS DISTRICT, PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
When Bobby Hamilton Jr., rolled the number 25 Ford Taurus onto the track at Darlington International Raceway March 16 he began a new tradition in the Marine Corps-NASCAR relationship.
The red, Busch Grand National Series car bore the name of Irmo, S.C., native Cpl. Brad House, a CH-53E crew chief with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS Bataan.
House, a 1998 graduate of Irmo High School, took part in raids around Camp Rhino and Kandahar International Airport while in Afghanistan and was chosen by Team Rensi Motorsports to be represented on the car. The decal read: Corporal William "Brad" House, Irmo High School, 26th MEU. Team Rensi owns the Marine Corps car.
Ed and Sam Rensi invited House's mother Phyllis and sister Leah, along with one of his favorite teachers Phil Tanner to attend the race. The trio got to enjoy the team's hospitality and got to see behind-the-scenes work in the garage and pit areas on race day.
For Phyllis nothing could have made the day better - except having her son home.
"Joining the Marine Corps wasn't what I had in mind for him," she said, "but it's worked well for him. I, like a lot of others in this country, didn't truly appreciate what our military does until after I saw Brad graduate boot camp."
Tanner said that House was set on the Marine Corps during his sophomore year and by his junior year no one could have dissuaded him. Tanner teaches automobile repair at Irmo High School and leads the school's SKILLS USA team. The team competes in a number of events involving skills learned in classes ranging from shop to home economics. House was state president of the program his senior year in high school.
Tanner and House's family updated each other on their lives and on what they knew of House's Marine Corps career throughout the trip to Darlington and back, but mostly they reminisced about his high school years.
"Brad was an outstanding young man," Tanner said. He cited numerous examples of House's leadership with SKILLS team members. Many stories served to highlight the quality of House's character. Again and again Tanner's stories painted House as a man of integrity, courage and daring.
One story told of how students from another school who served with House as SKILLS state leaders got in trouble at a convention. Tanner said the representative from that school approached him, asking that House be punished along with his students. According to Tanner, he questioned House about the event and asked if he had been involved. House's negative answer satisfied Tanner. "I had no reason to believe he lied," he said.
The House family and Tanner sat atop "war wagon" tool boxes with team owners and dodged tires that pit crew team members tossed over the wall while watching the race. House's story was shared with national media as the group joined Marines from 6th Marine Corps District alongside the car just prior to the start.
Bobby Hamilton joined his son and members of Team Rensi, along with the Marines, for a brief prayer before Hamilton Jr., climbed inside the car. The Marines saluted as the National Anthem was sung by the White Knoll Middle School choir and then quickly moved off pit road as the call came to "start your engines."
Tanner, along with Phyllis and Leah House, was hoping for a Top 10 finish, but a bad tire change near the end of the race left Hamilton Jr. 12th when the race ended. Tanner was happy just being able to come along and said he felt honored to have been invited by the family and the Marines. The Houses, too, said they were honored and happy to know Brad is both safe and doing well.