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Angels In Our Midst

Angels In Our Midst

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Updated: Monday, April 7 2014, 07:36 PM CDT
For 65 years, it has provided the ultimate test for man and machine.
It is where world land speed are made - and - broken.
A number of wounded warriors have dreams of going there.
And one man wants to take them there; to the Salt Flats of Utah.

Buddy James, Racing for Wounded Warriors;  Every since I was in the 10th grade, my brother was a street rod guy, and he knew all of these guys who were building the fast cars.  And so where do you go with a fast car?  You go to the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Several years after his Navy Career as an aircraft mechanic, Buddy James made his way back to the Salt Flats in Utah.  He became such a regular that course officials made him an offer 16 years ago. 

Buddy;  Why don't you help us on the starting line.  You're pretty good at staging and getting things  And I'd done that on the carrier; bringing the planes up and getting them staged.  It's the same thing.

Two years ago he met a man in a wheelchair whose hands were burned and maimed.  Adam Watkins had been critically injured in Iraq but he was pulled to the Flats with one desire.

Buddy;  He said, I'd give anything to go down the Salt Flats in a car.  I said, it's gonna happen.

That has become Buddy's mission.  He started the group, Black Belt Wounded Warrior Association in hopes of getting wounded servicemembers on the track at Salt Flats. 

He's spurred on by his father's words.  He was also a sailor, and a survivor on the Lexington when it was lost in the battle of the Coral Sea.

Buddy;  He said, Never forget those that served and came back injured.  He said, They'll always need help.

Initially, Buddy was able to get 11 Wounded Warriors assigned to various racing teams at the Flats; with just the excitement of being there.  The next step is to get them "on" the track.  His goal is to build two cars; one for the men and one for the women veterans.  He's got the name for the guys' car already picked out.

Buddy;  It's going to be named Commander Donald Hubbs..
Buddy served with LT. Hubbs on the USS Yorktown.  Ironically, he met Hubbs' daughter in Pensacola a few years ago.  The naming of the car has a special meaning for Jill Hubbs. Her dad never came home from Vietnam; MIA.

Jill Hubbs, Dad is MIA-Vietnam;  My dad was lost March 17, 1968.
I'm thrilled that he's doing this to honor my father is such a way.  But, also, that it's connected to that project to help those who have served and who've come home with scars from war.

Buddy would love to have the community's help to honor those who came home bearing those scars and those who didn't come home.  It might just seem like a thrill to some  but it's so much more to those who have given and sacrificed so much.

Buddy;  Hey, I've got a timing slip that comes from the Salt Flats.  I can put this in and show it to my kids and grandkids and say, Hey, Pop was out there at the Salt Flats and did 200 miles an hour.  This is a huge thing for these guys.

Jill;  I am so proud of you.  I know my dad would be proud of you. And  I love you, Mr. Buddy.

Angels in our Midst is brought to you by the Children's Hospital at Sacred Heart.


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