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Chase Elliott, NAPA Auto Parts to Honor TEC5 Clifford Strickland at Charlotte

Chase Elliott Coca-Cola 600 paint scheme Patriotic NAPA Auto Parts

Render Courtesy of Hendrick Motorsports

When the NASCAR Cup Series celebrates Memorial Day Weekend in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Chase Elliott and Hendrick Motorsports, in coordination with long-time sponsor NAPA Auto Parts, will be honoring a fallen soldier.

Elliott, a seven-time winner of NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver Award, will be honoring TEC5 Clifford Strickland, who was captured and died as a prisoner of war during World War II.

To honor Strickland, Elliott’s No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will be dressed in a dark digital camo pattern, with the branding of primary sponsor NAPA being displayed via white logos on the hood and sides of the racecar.

Strickland’s remains were accounted for on December 20, 2023.

In the Summer of 1942, Strickland was a member of Company C, 803rd Engineer Battalion (Aviation), U.S. Army, when Japanese forces invaded the Phillippine Islands in December. Intense fighting continued until the surrender of the Bataan peninsula on April 9, 1942, and of Corregidor Island on May 6, 1942.

Thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members were captured and interned at POW camps. Strickland was among those reported captured when U.S. forces in Bataan surrendered to the Japanese. They were subjected to the 65-mile Bataan Death March and then held at the Cabanatuan POW camp. More than 2,500 POWs perished in this camp during the war.

According to prison camp and other historical records, Strickland died July 29, 1942, and was buried along with other deceased prisoners in the local Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery in Common Grave 215.

In 1947, the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) examined the remains in an attempt to identify them. Five sets of remains from Common Grave 215 were identified, but the remaining seven were declared unidentifiable, including those of TEC5 Strickland.

More than 70 years later, the remains associated with Common Grave 215 were disinterred and sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis, which through dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence, scientists used mitochondrial DNA analysis to identify Stickland’s remains.

Strickland will be buried in Florence, Colorado on June 29th, 2024.

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