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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Tony Stewart, #14 NASCAR racecar driver, is surrounded by fans during his visit to talk to wounded Marines at Wounded Warrior Battalion - East, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Oct. 21. Stewart took the opportunity to say thank you to the service members for their sacrifices, and was very grateful for the opportunity to thank them in person.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Victor Barrera

NASCAR driver “Smoke” visits wounded warriors

21 Oct 2010 | Lance Cpl. Victor A. Barrera

NASCAR driver Tony Stewart paid a visit to wounded Marines and sailors of Wounded Warrior Battalion - East while visiting Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Oct. 21.

The visit was part of the customer appreciation day at the Lejeune ServMart, during which Stewart took time to say thank you and talk to the wounded warriors.

"It's very humbling for me to visit Camp Lejeune and to spend some time with the men and women who serve our country," said Stewart.  "They make it possible for people like me to do what I love and for NASCAR fans to enjoy being at the race track every weekend. Service members and their families sacrifice a lot, and I'm very grateful for the opportunity to thank them in person."

As soon as Stewart entered the WW Bn.- East dayroom, Marines crowded around hoping to get a glimpse of the legend and, if lucky, a picture with him.

Stewart signed caps and photographs for the service members and also handed out baseball caps with his Office Depot race car number 14. Throughout the meeting, Stewart talked to the Marines not only about racing but about hunting and many other subjects as well.

“This is awesome, he’s really down-to-earth and a great guy,” said Sgt. James Tucker, a wounded warrior with WW Bn.-East, MCB Camp Lejeune. “I follow his races as does my wife.”

Capt. William Wallach,  the commanding officer for Company B, WWB-East, also had a chance to speak with the famous racecar driver.

“I think this is great that he came here to talk to these Marines,” said Wallach. “He’s not one of those famous celebrities that think they’re too good to talk to these guys.”

However, not all the compliments were one-sided. Stewart also took time to speak about the respect he had for not only Marines but all service members who took the oath to defend this country.

“I think if the nation took one day out of their life and spent it with these Marines and saw the sacrifices they have made for this country, our nation would have a different outlook on our service members,” said Stewart. “Being able to spend time with them and see them smile was truly enjoyable.”

Stewart is the driver of the number 14 Office Depot/Old Spice car and has won the Sprint Cup Series twice.