Lieutenant Colonel (Lt. Col.) John Tuepker’s savvy leadership and expertise has helped keep soldiers safe at Pope Army Airfield in North Carolina during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a segment that aired during NBC’s coverage of the NASCAR Cup Series Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Dillon chatted with Tuepker about how the pandemic has impacted the base.
"It certainly has redefined normal as we knew it," said Tuepker, who has served in the military for the past 26 years. "I think that’s true for most of the country. It’s definitely forced us to come up with creative ways to achieve the mission. I’m certainly honored to be here today to represent an entire team that’s taken care of our members regardless of the risk. I’m certainly thankful for the folks that are deployed currently and more so for the folks that have given the ultimate sacrifice."
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Pope Army Airfield is home to the 724th Special Tactics Group, which is one of the special operations ground components that is assigned to the Air Force Special Operations Command. Tuepker, the Chief Medical Officer, directed safety protocols at the base to more than 2,000 airmen under his care. His efforts also were instrumental in overseeing 500 in-person and virtual appointments, while setting up a 24/7 monitoring platform for those in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns.
Dillon informed Tuepker that the NASCAR Salutes program is making a $25,000 donation to USO Family programming, with that donation being split evenly between the USO Indianapolis (location of Sunday’s race) and USO North Carolina Programming supporting Pope Airfield Families.
"Thank you for all you do and hope to have you at a NASCAR race soon," Dillon told Tuepker, who sent the driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet an item to have for Sunday’s race.
For the first time ever, NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola kicked off with the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as the platform shifts to a mid-summer window due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola, which runs through July 31, will see the NASCAR industry honor United States Armed Forces and frontline healthcare heroes as part of this year’s expanded program – an industry-wide opportunity to recognize and thank those who have gone above and beyond to keep society safe and healthy.