Vietnam War Hero Scheduled to Speak During Team’s “Operation: Hire Our Guard” Program Sunday

BALTIMORE, Maryland (August 30, 2013) – Panther Racing is proud to be joined by Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Brian Thacker during the IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Baltimore weekend. Thacker is scheduled to speak during the team’s “Operation: Hire Our Guard” program in the team’s hospitality unit Sunday at noon and will also be recognized on the IndyCar pre-race stage prior to the start of the 75-lap event.
“It’s hard for all of us at Panther to express how humbled we are every time we’re fortunate enough to have a Medal of Honor recipient in our presence,” Panther team owner John Barnes said. “When we heard to story of how First Lieutenant Thacker earned the Medal of Honor, I’m not sure there was a dry eye in the room. He’s an amazing man who’s done remarkable things serving our country, and we’re happy he’s going to be part of our ‘Hire Our Guard’ program this weekend.”

First Lieutenant Thacker received the Medal of Honor in 1973 for ‘conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the rest of his life above and beyond the call of duty’. It was during the Vietnam War in 1971 that Thacker and his men came under heavy fire from the enemy, which caused several casualties within the group. Two helicopters that attempted to evacuate them were shot down before they could land, leaving Thacker and his men in a precarious situation.

While still under fire, he organized and directed the withdraw of the friendly forces, while volunteering to remain inside the perimeter alone to provide covering fire. Then, in an effort to give his comrades more time to escape, he called in artillery fire on his own position to help buy more time for friendly forces to escape. Thacker was wounded during the battle and unable to escape himself, but eluded enemy forces by hiding in a bamboo thicket. He was unable to come out of hiding until friendly forces regained control of the base eight days later.

First Lieutenant Thacker will speak during the “Operation: Hire Our Guard” program in Panther’s hospitality unit Sunday at noon. Media are invited to attend.

What is “Operation: Hire Our Guard”:
“Operation: Hire Our Guard” is a Panther Racing initiative to raise awareness and educate business leaders around the country about the increasing unemployment crisis facing our National Guard, with the ultimate goal of making the connections necessary between the military and business leaders to secure quality employment for National Guard Soldiers. Unemployment is the No. 1 issue facing returning and demobilizing National Guard members and their families. Overall unemployment is 13% - as high as 30% for Veterans between 18-30 – and, in total, there are currently 65,000 unemployed National Guard members.

Last year Panther’s events provided Veterans exposure to approximately 9,300 job opportunities, and based on a conservative approach, potentially over 4,300 Guardsmen have been employed as a result of our program. Earlier this year Panther owner John Barnes was asked to testify in front of a Congressional hearing on lowering the unemployment rate amongst the National Guard and Reserve about the success of the program.

Race Broadcast Info:
The IndyCar Series will travel directly to Baltimore for next Sunday’s Baltimore Grand Prix, which will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network on August 30th at 2 pm (EST) with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, XM/Sirius Channel 211. Practice, qualifying and race coverage is also available on the IndyCar Mobile app from Verizon. - -