Fallen Middleville soldier to be honored during NASCAR race

Posted at 10:03 PM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 22:18:27-04

MIDDLEVILLE, Mich. -- A fallen soldier from West Michigan is going to be honored by NASCAR this weekend.

Nicholas Roush was killed in Afghanistan in 2009, and on Sunday he'll be remembered at the Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte, N.C.

NASCAR does this every year as part of their 600 Miles of Remembrance, where each driver will have the name of a fallen service member displayed on their windshield.  Roush's will be on the car of another Michigan native: driver Erik Jones.

Roush's parents sya Nick loved cars and he would absolutely love this.

"He had a smile that his team leader called 'patented,'" his dad Bob Roush said.

It's how his family will always remember him: a big, bright smile and shaggy red hair, with a desire to do something bigger than himself.

"He wanted to be at the tip of the spear," Bob Roush said.

Nick was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 with Army Special Forces. Four months later, on Aug. 16, 2009, the 22-year-old was killed when an IED detonated near his vehicle while he was on a mission.

"It was just a Sunday night, getting ready for church and two guys pulled in the driveway and….both had their uniforms on and I knew what it meant," Nick's mom Donna Roush said. "Hear those words being muttered, 'On behalf of a grateful nation...' that’s what Memorial Day is about. Remembering those guys and thankful that NASCAR is honoring Nick in this way."

Nearly nine years later, Donna still visits her son's grave once a week. Both of his parents carry pieces of him everywhere they go.

"It will always be, it will always be a hurt," Donna said.

Bob and Donna are heading to Charlotte, N.C., this weekend for the race, where Erik Jones will display their son's name on his windshield.

"We’re really excited," Bob said. "I’m a big car guy, Nick and I were always going to start a hot rod shop together. That was sort of our dream."

Nick's parents say he loved cars, and was working on an old Eagle Talon that still sits in their garage today.

"He would think this is crazy cool, so we're going to have a lot of fun for him," Bob said about this weekend's race.

Bob and Donna will be visiting the shop where they build the cars, seeing a bunch of familiar faces and watching the race.  They say they know Nick will be with them the whole time.

"We believe God parts the clouds every once in a while, and [lets him peek through] and this is definitely going to be one of those times," Bob said.

The Coca Cola 600 will air this Sunday at 6 p.m. on FOX.