Honoring a Soldier by Helping Him Bring Home Man’s Best Friend
For Ryan Newman, carrying the colors of the U.S. Army on his No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet is something he considers to be a great honor.
Newman doesn’t take lightly his responsibility of representing a million Soldiers worldwide each time he puts on the Army uniform and slides behind the wheel of his black-and-camouflage No. 39 Chevy Impala. He knows he is able to do the job he loves thanks to the Soldiers who protect our freedom and our country, and throughout the season he thanks the Army Strong men and women he meets at each stop on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit.
But saying thanks isn’t enough for Newman. That’s why he and his Ryan Newman Foundation jumped at the opportunity to help reunite one Soldier with a dog he rescued in Afghanistan. For Newman, it was the perfect chance to blend his pride in being associated with the U.S. Army with his love for animals and his foundation’s work.
The Ryan Newman Foundation was contacted by several groups, including Guardians of Rescue and Pilots N Paws, to help get Trigger, a 70-pound dog, to the state of Washington and back with his owner Matt, a U.S. Army Soldier, Special Forces.
The story goes that Matt rescued Trigger, a stray, from the streets of Afghanistan. He brought the dog back to camp, where the Soldiers provided him with food, water, shelter and, most importantly, love and companionship.
After five months, it was time for Matt’s deployment to come to an end. While thrilled to be coming home, Matt was devastated at the thought of leaving Trigger behind, where the dog’s life would be in danger.
Multiple friends and organizations worked together to get Trigger to a safehouse in Kabul, where he stayed in quarantine for 30 days before being flown to New York in February. Upon arrival, Trigger needed to spend time in animal rehabilitation, where he was house-trained, adapting to walking on a leash, and learned to follow such simple commands as “sit” and “stay”.
Once Trigger was ready to go home, the Ryan Newman Foundation helped pay the costs to get the dog to his new home. On March 10, Trigger was finally reunited with Matt.
While Newman was able to help one Soldier by reuniting him with his best friend, he hopes to make the U.S. Army proud this weekend with a solid run in the Soldier’s car – the No. 39 U.S. Army ROTC Chevrolet – at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. This weekend, the U.S. Army honors the Army ROTC program, which has been providing young Americans with the opportunity to become an Officer and a leader – a counselor, a strategist and a motivator – since 1916. More than 20,000 cadets are enrolled in the Army ROTC program.
In 17 career Sprint Cup starts at the 2-mile oval located approximately 50 miles east of Los Angeles, Newman has one pole, four top-fives and six top-10s. In each of his last two races at Fontana, Newman and the No. 39 Chevy have finished fifth.
After five races this season, Newman sits 13th in points, 39 behind leader Greg Biffle, with one top-five finish to his credit.
Having already scored a huge victory earlier this month by reuniting Trigger and Matt, Newman plans to improve on his recent finishes at Fontana and secure a victory for all Soldiers in Sunday’s Auto Club 400.