A Marine’s Story of Faith, Love, and Motorsports

Episode 82

November 29, 2015

Amanda Trembly Eason at the finish of the Marine Corp Marathon. She had run the New York City Marathon the weekend before. Both were run as part of the  Photo by Ida Irby of the Quantico Sentry

Woodland’s Amanda Trombley Eason at the finish of the 40th Marine Corp Marathon October 25th which concluded at the Iwo Jima Marine Corps War Memorial. She ran the New York City Marathon the next weekend. Both marathons were run as part of the Team Hope for the Warriors. Photo by Ida Irby of the Quantico Sentry

Amanda’s Story

There never was a typical “normal” day for Aroostook County native Amanda Trombley when she was stationed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. She was a Marine Corp Motor Vehicle Operator and Female Engagement Team member. Then a corporal, Eason would communicate with women in Afghanistan without breaking cultural norms. She went on over 25 missions to gather information about Taliban forces in the area.

April 20, 2010 would change the young Marine’s life in many ways. In her words, “We left Camp Leatherneck with Combat Logistics Battalion 6.We left the wire with 13 VICKs heading north to Musa Qal’eh to find a safer route to get up to Musa Qal’eh for the convoys.”

A MATV similar to the one that Lance Corporal Trombley operated in Afghanistan. Photo courtesy Wikipedia

A MATV similar to the one that Lance Corporal Trombley operated in Afghanistan. Photo courtesy Wikipedia

According to military reports the convoy came across a vacant compound where a vehicle struck an improvised explosive device (IED). As assistant convoy commander, she was called up to assist the downed vehicle when her vehicle struck two IED’s.

“We rolled into one compound town that was in ‘Route Red’ which was a known targeted area. We ended up hitting 4 IED’s in seven and one half minutes. My vehicle set off two which equaled about 120 pounds of explosives”

“We medi-evaced out the guy I was driving for which was the staff sergeant. We waited all night for our QRF (Quick Reaction Force) team to show up the next morning”

” That night we took some small arms fire, nothing major. We could see them circling up around us but they still did not really attack us.”

“The next day our QRF team showed up. We loaded up all our downed VICKs. About the time we got loaded up we got ambushed so we started fighting back. We finished up loading the vehicles as fast as we could and boogied out of there. We were very fortunate not to lose anybody.”

“We had a couple people get injured on that deployment with several Purple Hearts. To me it was an award for the enemy. It showed the enemy had won. They didn’t kill but did what they intended to do which was to hurt Americans.”

“I ended up losing my right perifial vision. I’ve got nerve damage to the right side of my face and I am almost deaf in my right ear.”

On Memorial Day 2010 she, along with four other Marines, were awarded the purple heart. She was then sent to North Carolina to another duty station. In September 2010 while working a second job as a waitress at Mac Daddy’s, a bowling alley/sports bar in Cape Carteret, she met Geoffrey Eason.

In December of 2010 they were engaged and in February 2011 they were married in Jacksonville, North Carolina, Eason’s hometown.

Geoffrey’s Story

Geoffrey was a hometown boy who had graduated from Swanboxro High School in Jacksonville then attended Coastal Carolina Community College in the same town. While there he majored in welding and auto body.

Eason then went to Blue Ridge Tech in Asheville, North Carolina six hours west of Jacksonville. During the year and one-half he was there he took Auto Restoration taught by Stan Ducker who he remains in contact to this day.

After returning from Asheville, which was many miles from home and family, he took a part-time job at Advance Auto Parts. He met a guy while working there that was the parts man in a speed shop owned by Johnny Stevenson. He took a job working in Stevenson’s speed shop.

“I started working for him doing installs, lift kits, wheels and tires, intakes, and little stuff like that,” said Eason. “Mr. Stevenson had a couple cars he liked that were in his personal collection that he wanted to do a few different things to.”

“He brought them to us and I ended up working on them doing some fab stuff.”

The next season Stevenson restructured the speed shop business and Eason was offered a position on the race team. Eason needed a job and figured he could look for a job while maintaining a position on the team.

“I didn’t know a lot about motorsports before that. I never really followed racing. I was interested in by it but I was not interested enough to keep up with results and drivers and all that stuff. Once I got working on this race team and saw what it was all about I just fell in love with it! It was probably the best career I’ve ever had.”

The Stevenson Motorsports' Grand Am GS Mark Donohue look alike Camaro driven by the sons of the original Trans Am driven by legends Mark Donohue (David) and Ronnie Bucknum (Jeff).  Photo courtesy Geoffrey Eason

The Stevenson Motorsports’ 2009 Grand Am GS Mark Donohue look-alike Camaro driven by the sons of the original Trans Am driven by legends Mark Donohue (David) and Ronnie Bucknum (Jeff). Photo courtesy Geoffrey Eason

Season one for Eason the team went from one car to four in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Grand AM GT and GS classes. He worked for the GS team which purchased a complete car from Riley Technology and another that was a shell with a bunch of boxes which they built in the off-season.

In addition to shop responsibilities of part-time fabricator and full-time mechanic Eason travelled with the team to all their events. While at the track he served as the mechanic and rear tire changer during pit stops.

” I was the first to work and the last to to leave. It evolved from being full time mechanic and part-time fabricator to full-time mechanic and fabricator. I said ‘Hey we’ve got to figure something out here. I can’t continue to do both of these the entire time.'”

Static Display of the Stevenson Motorsports # 57 and #9 Camaros at the Wilmington, North Carolina Convention Center at a team function. Photo courtesy Geoffrey Eason

Static display of the Stevenson Motorsports # 57 and #9 Camaros at the Wilmington, North Carolina Convention Center at a team function. Photo courtesy Geoffrey Eason

“That was when they made the decision to go from a four car team to a two car team, one GS and 1 GT. ‘We want you to be a full-time fabricator for both cars.'”

Geoffrey and Amanda Eason, newlyweds at Lime Rock, Connecticut in 2012. The team placed second in the Grand AM GS Championship. Photo courtesy Juha Lievonen

Geoffrey and Amanda Eason, newlyweds (well maybe relatively newlywed) at Lime Rock, Connecticut in 2012. The team placed second in the Grand AM GS Championship. Photo courtesy Juha Lievonen

Chevrolet became a major player in Stevenson Motorsports in 2010. Eason could see that they were working toward becoming a really good team. His idea came to fruition when the team took the 2015 IMSA Grand Am Championship which Eason, though no longer a member of the team, was pleased with.

“You could tell this was building up to be a rally good team. We were all learning to work together with each other and work as a team instead of just a bunch of guys. Ultimately anyone in racing knows that’s what wins races; teams not necessarily a car.”

End of Work at Stevenson Motorsports, Okinawa Bound

One thing about marriage and the Marines, deployment is inevitable. Amanda received orders for Okinawa. Geoffrey had to get done at Stevenson Motorsports to make the move. Both agreed, however, that the move was a gift from God looking back at it.

While at Okinawa they were able to get established in a local church, Maranantha Baptist Church where they became committed followers of Christ. They re-focused their lives and got rid of distractions that might have been toxic to their lives and relationship as husband and wife.

After three years of marriage their personal relationship with Jesus would get a test when they found that Amanda was pregnant. An ultrasound on August 19, 2014  revealed that their baby girl who they named Elizabeth had a birth defect called gastroshisis. The simplified explanation in my words was that her intestines were outside her body cavity.

Friends in the church wrapped their collective arms around the Easons and bathed them in prayer and did what the church is designed to do, providing meals and comfort to the worried Mom and Dad.

The Marines needed to transfer the family to Quantico, Virginia so that when Elizabeth was to be born she would be at Walter Reed Military Hospital which had some top-notch doctors ready to deal with gastroshisis.

After birth Elizabeth was slated to spend six weeks in the hospital, however, three weeks later the parents brought her home. “She is our miracle baby,” said the proud Mom.

Geoffrey noted that, “God does everything for a reason. You may not see the reason at the beginning, however in the end you see it is all a part of God’s master plan. You need to put your faith in him that whatever the plan is God is not going to give you something you can not handle.”

“God put her, Elizabeth, in our lives to draw us closer together and make us a stronger family. Everything has a silver lining. While in Okinawa one of our concerns was that Elizabeth would not get to see her grandparents very much. God took care of that and moved us back to the States.”

It turns out that while in Okinawa Geoffrey was unable to find a job which utilized his skills in the fabrication/motorsports area. Upon return to Virginia he landed a job working for a private MOPAR muscle car collector who has a large number of cars. Eason is doing everything needed to restore his cars.

“I do all the welding and fabricating. We send it off to a paint and body shop. When it comes back I will do all the assembly and final fitment.”

“We’ve done a 70 Duster and a 70 Dart (since Eason has worked there) that he (the collector) did for his daughter and son-in-law who have been through some pretty rough times. They had a baby who had some health problems. He did this to bring up their morale.”

” We just finished two of them. They are full-blown custom street rods. The Duster, which is the daughter’s car, is a very bright metallic pink with a pink and white interior.”

“We put a Generation III Hemi in both of them.. They are daily driver show cars, nothing crazy. Motor is pretty stock and they have automatic transmissions.”

“We put modern restraints systems in them so they can feel safe. They can put car seats in them and bring their kids to the show or do whatever they want to do.”

“Her car was finished in time to take it to the MOPAR Street Rod Nationals in Ohio. Her car actually won first place. That was kind of a big deal for him and for us. The son-in-law’s is twice as nice.”

I will continue to follow this story as the Eason family makes decisions next year whether to move to Jacksonville and work for Stevenson Motorsports who will be campaigning Audi Rs in 2016 or work in Asheville as an instructor at a new school.

“I would not change anything that happened,” said Amanda. ” If I had not been wounded I would not have met Geoffrey and not had Elizabeth. In the end it will work out the way God has planned it. I want to be obedient to Him.”

Amanda, Geoffrey, and Elizabeth Eason with friends in a recent Facebook photo

Amanda, Geoffrey, and Elizabeth Eason with friends in a recent Facebook photo

You can see WAGM TV 8’s interview of Eason tonight at 6 pm or go to their website to view the archived story.

Let’s go racing!

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria

 

 

 

Tom Hale

About Tom Hale

Tom wrote 14 years as freelancer for the Bangor Daily Sports covering motorsports in Maine. Now blogging and concentrating on human interest stories about people and places in racing.