Fallen local soldier to be honored at weekend NASCAR race
CHOCOWINITY, Beaufort County - If you watch NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 this weekend, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for car No. 34.
That's the car that will honor a Beaufort County soldier who was killed fighting in Afghanistan on Sept. 11, 2008.
Even though Michael Murdock was born with several health issues, including a growth hormone deficiency, "Lil' Mikey" as he was known, had big dreams.
"I think he's one of the bravest people I know and not just because I'm his mom," Murdock's mother, Jennifer Tripp, said. "But because he went."
She'll never forget the last time she dropped him off at the airport.
"He waited till we got to the parking lot, the parking area and said 'I'm not gonna make it back. I'm gonna die over there.'"
This, he said, despite not being in a high-action area. However, on Sept. 11, 2008, the base where he was stationed came under attack.
"My son had the night shift so he was sleeping," she said. "But they did a code red and he was getting up and getting his gear on and went he went to put the vest on on the right arm... (and the) shot came through the door and hit him in the side."
She says she has been comforted knowing Murdock died surrounded by people who loved him, many of whom have told Tripp they wish they had died instead of him.
Now, more than nine years later, NASCAR is honoring Murdock's memory. Landon Cassil, driving the No. 34 CSX car, will have a decal for Murdock on his race car while churning out laps at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
For her son, she loves the way he is being remembered.
"He's like, 'I just want to do something big. I want to be remembered for doing something good,'" she said. "And he is. He did. I say mission accomplished."
It's the third year in a row NASCAR has paid tribute to a fallen soldier via these windshield decals.