Stenhouse car will honor James Woolard, killed in Vietnam
By Mark Carpenter –
One of Adams County’s finest will be honored in a very special and unique way this weekend as part of NASCAR’s second annual 600 Miles of Remembrance, part of the sport’s military appreciation platform, “NASCAR: An American Salute.” All 40 Spring Cup drivers in this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 race will have special names placed on their car windshields to honor fallen service members. The No. 17 car driven by Ricky Stenhouse and owned by Jack Roush will be honoring SP James H. Woolard of Manchester, who was killed in action in Vietnam in 1969.
“Charlotte always does a great job with remembering the veterans and military that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” said Stenhouse. “I think our sponsor Fastenal does a great job with it as well and it’s something that its very important to them too, whether it be hiring the heroes or remembering the ones that gave everything.”
“This week we are going to have Jim Woolard on our car, who was one of Jack Roush’s childhood friends,” continued Stenhouse. “He grew up two doors down from Jack and died in the Vietnam War when he was only 20 years old. It will be a special weekend for us, especially with Jack being our owner. He will want to watch that car run really well and we’re going to give it everything we’ve got.”
James (Jim) Woolard was born on April 23, 1949, growing up like many other young men on the streets of Manchester. His parents ran the local newspaper, The Signal, and the Roushes and Woolards were family friends. Jimmy graduated from Manchester High School in 1967 and was inducted into the Unites States Army in February of 1969. He was shipped to Fort Knox, Ky. for eight weeks of basic training and then on to Fort Sill, Oklahoma where he was assigned to eight more weeks of training with an artillery unit.
After his graduation at Fort Sill, Woolard was able to come home on a much-deserved 30 day leave, where he renewed old acquaintances, spent time with his family and friends, fished in the Ohio River, and just enjoyed home, a place that he dearly loved. No one knew that this was to be his last visit.
Within four days after leaving Manchester to return to duty, Woolard was on a plane bound for Bien Hoa Airport in Vietnam. Five days after that, with a total of four months and five days of training time, he went on his first active patrol in Vietnam. He began his time as a member of A Battery, Sixth Battalion, 29th Artillery, Fourth Infantry Division, but soon was assigned to B Battery. h was part of a crew that constructed 12 army fire bases in Vietnam and after spending a few days at each of those sites, his unit would move on to another site.
His letters home revealed to his family and friends that by mid-November 1969, he had been transferred to somewhere in the vicinity of Pleiku in the Central Highland of Vietnam. The news that no family of a military member ever wants to get came to Manchester on Nov. 1, informing them that Jimmy had been hit in the left side of his neck by mortar fragments and been taken to the 71st Evacuation Hospital in Vietnam, where he passed away sometime on Nov. 3, 1969 at the age of 20.
The November 6, 1969 issues of The People’s Defender reported that “Mr. and Mrs. William G. Woolard were notified Tuesday morning that their son died in the 71st Evacuation Hospital without regaining consciousness after being hit on the left side of the next by mortar shrapnel.” The Defender also reported that family members were told that Woolard’s body was to arrive at the Greater Cincinnati Airport in seven to 10 days. He was laid to rest in the Manchester IOOF Cemetery and today, his name can be found among those on the Vietnam Wall in Washington DC, plot coordinates 16W 025.
This year’s Coca-Cola 600 will be broadcast live from the Charlotte Motor Speedway on FOX beginning at 6 p.m. on Sunday, may 29.