Furniture Row Racing will honor a fallen Colorado soldier from the Vietnam war during the Memorial Day weekend Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Sgt. Edwin Penn of Englewood, Colo., who was 20 years-old when he was killed in action on Sept. 6, 1968 in South Vietnam, was a Bronze Star Medal recipient for heroism in a combat zone. As part of NASCAR's 600 Miles of Remembrance, Sgt. Penn's name will be displayed on the windshield of Martin Truex Jr.'s No 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet at Sunday's (May 24th) Coca-Cola 600.
Sgt. Penn's wife Georgia Penn, son Damian Penn (who was 9 months-old when his father was killed), granddaughter Hunter Elizabeth, brother Randy, who is the mayor of Englewood, Colo., and sister Nancy Washnieski will be attending the Coca-Cola 600 as guests of Furniture Row team owner Barney Visser. Georgia, Damian, and his two children, reside in Chase, Kan. Sgt. Penn's mother Louise is a resident of Denver.
A 1965 Englewood High School graduate, Penn was drafted in the U.S. Army in September 1967. He chose not to receive a 2-S student deferment while attending Adams State University in Alamosa, Colo. on a football scholarship.
His first Army stop was basic training at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas where he served as a squad leader. He also spent time in Fort Benning, Ga. and Fort Polk, La., earning a Sergeant E5 rank.
Visser, who also served in Vietnam, first met Penn at their induction ceremony in Denver. They were also in the same basic training unit at Fort Bliss.
"You could tell right away that Ed was a natural leader," said Visser. "He was strong, fair and had a big heart in his role as our squad leader. He is a true hero and it will be an honor to have Ed's name on our race car at the Memorial Day weekend race in Charlotte. The last time I saw him was at our basic training graduation. We went on to serve in different units in Vietnam."
Penn served in the 101st Airborne Division while Visser was in the 173rd Airborne Brigade.
Penn started his Vietnam tour of duty on Aug. 7, 1968. He was killed 29 days later (Sept. 6) in Hau Nghia Province, South Vietnam.
Penn, who was the captain of his high school football and wrestling teams, was the oldest of four siblings.
"Ed was the consummate brother," said Randy Penn. "He was my teacher, my protector, and my sparring partner at home. He had a quiet tone, strong will, and led by example for all who surrounded him. It has been 47 years since his passing, he is still in my mind and heart, he will forever be missed, and has been an important part of my life in all that I have done."