Military heroes honored by replacing driver names on cars for Coca-Cola 600
As a tribute to U.S. military personnel, every car in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway will carry the name of a soldier on its windshield to honor their courage and sacrifice. See the photos and stories behind those being honored.
NASCAR via Getty ImagesRainier Ehrhardt
Marine Lance Cpl. Brandon Webb and Army Spc. Trevor B. Adkins/Coca-Cola 600 pace car
Webb, a native of Tempe, Ariz., died on June 20, 2006 in Iraq, less than two months after he was scheduled to return home. Adkins, of Spring Lake, N.C., died July 8, 2012 in MaidanShahr, Afghanistan of wounds suffered by an improvised explosive device (IED). Webb and Adkins were both only 20 years old at the times of their deaths.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Russ Freeland/No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet of Jamie McMurray
Freeland served his country during the Korean War. He excelled in basketball, football and baseball at DePauw University and went on be named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches Silver Anniversary All-Star Team in 1976 and later to the state of Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
Army Cpl. Michael J. Anaya/No. 2 Team Penske Ford of Brad Keselowski
Anaya died on April 12, 2009, while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He perished in the same explosion that resulted in Sgt. Brendan Marrocco, who is an honoree of Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation, losing all four of his limbs.
Navy Seal Chief Adam Brown/No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Austin Dillon
Brown was killed in action in Komar Province, Afghanistan, on March 17, 2010, when he placed himself in the line of fire to protect other members of his unit.
Army Sgt. Cory R. Mracek/No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick
Mracek died on January 27 of 2004 while serving in Iraq. The paratrooper's nickname with the famed 82nd Airborne Divison in the short time he was able to serve with them was 'Sgt. Morale Check.'
Army Sgt. First Class Riley Gene Stephens/No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Kasey Kahne
Stephens was 39 and assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Alpha Company as a Speical Forces Medical Sergeant when he died of wounds received from small-arms fire in Wardak Province, Afghanistan.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Casey Crate/No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Trevor Bayne
Crate perished on a Memorial Day mission in May of 2005 when the transport plane he was flying in crashed in the Diyala Province of Iraq. His awards for service include the Bronze Star with Valor Device, the Purple Heart, and several others.
Army 1st Lt. Todd Weaver/No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet of Alex Bowman
Weaver was an Airborne Ranger who made his last deployment to Iraq when his daughter, Kiley, was just nine months old. A recipient of both the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, he died on Sept. 9, 2010, in Afgahnistan.
Air Force Capt. Jeremy Fresques/No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford of Sam Hornish Jr.
Fresques, a recipient of the Bronze Star with Valor, died while participating in a mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom when the aircraft he was in crashed in the Divala Provice of Iraq on Memorial Day in 2005. He was Special Tactics Officer assigned to the 23td Speical Tactices Squadron out of Hurlburt Field, Fla.
Army Cpl. Steven R. Koch/No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet of Danica Patrick
Koch, of Milltown, N.J., was killed in Afghanistan on March 3, 2008, near the end of a 15-month tour. He was only 23 years old.
Marine 1st Lt. Michael E. Johnson/No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Denny Hamlin
Johnson, of Virginia Beach, Va., was 25 when he was killed on Sept. 8, 2009 while serving during Operation Enduring Freedom in Kunar Province, Afghanistan.
Army Sgt. Joshua J. Rimer/No. 13 Germain Racing Chevrolet of Casey Mears
Rimer died July 22, 2009 while serving during Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq. He was a recipient of the Purple Heart.
Marine Master Sgt. Aaron C. Torian/No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet of Tony Stewart
A highly-decorated Marine and bona-fide war hero, Torian died at age 36 just last February from injuries sustained during combat training operations while serving in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Air Corps Lt. Dale Bowyer/No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Clint Bowyer
Bowyer won the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in World War II. While leading his platoon under heavy fire in an attack near Sinz, Germany, on Jan. 25, 1945, Bowyer was severely wounded by an enemy mine, yet refused evacuation even though both feet were shattered -- until his men were clear of the mine field and able to advance without further injury to any others.
Army Private 1st Class Deane S. Van Dyke/No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Greg Biffle
Van Dyke, a native of Delmont, Pa., died of gunshot wounds suffered in battle only six weeks after arriving for a tour in Vietnam. Only 21 at the time, he was awarded the Bronze Star for bravery in action after disregarding his own wounds to crawl forward to aid others under withering fire that ultimately cost him his life.
Air Corps Capt. Jim Browning/No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
The decorated pilot of a P-51 Mustang in World War II, Browning was last seen near Wurges, Germany, before being listed Missing In Action in February of 1945 after a mid-air collision with an enemy airplane. His decorations include three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Purple Heart and eight Air Medals.
Marine Gunnery Sgt. Aaron M. Kenefick/No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Kyle Busch
In his 12-year military career, Kenefick was twice named Marine of the Year. Two days after being awarded the Purple Heart for being wounded by shrapnel, he was killed at the age of 30 in an ambush in Kunar Province, Afghanistan.
Navy Seaman Lynn A. Thrasher/No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Carl Edwards
Thrasher served aboard the LST827 in the South Pacific from 1944 until the end of WWII, and was injured by shrapnel during one of the battles near Okinawa. He was picking pieces of shrapnel from his forehead for years afterward, well into the early 1960s.
Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class James R. Layton/No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Matt Kenseth
Layton, of Riverbank, Calif., was only 22 when he died on Sept. 8, 2009 while supporting combat operations in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. He recieved the Bronze Star with Valor posthumously.
Marine Cpl. Jonathan Bowling/No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford of Ryan Blaney
Bowling was a native of Stuart, Va., long-time home of the Wood Brothers Racing shop. He was killed in action in Iraq in 2005 in an ambush.
Army Cpl. Travis L. Patriquin/No. 22 Team Penske Ford of Joey Logano
Patriquin and two others were killed when a roadside bomb exploded near their Humvee during combat operations in Ramadi, Iraq, in December of 2006. The native of St. Louis, Mo., earlier had received a Bronze Star for fighting behind enemy lines.
Marine Cpl. Jose A. Hernandez/No. 23 BK Racing Toyota of J.J. Yeley
Hernandez, of West Palm Beach, Fla., was only 19 when he was killed while serving with the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Divison out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. He died on Dec. 14, 2010, while conducting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stanley J. Harriman/No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon
Harriman became the first casualty from Fort Bragg, N.C., in Operation Enduring Freedom when he died on March 2, 2002. He was serving with the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Alpha Company, at the time of his death.
Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Stephen Duskin/No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Chase Elliott
Duskin was 42 when he died from wounds received from small-arms fire in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, during Operation Enduring Freedom. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Alpha Company as an assistant detachment commander upon his death on Oct. 23, 2012.
Army Sgt. Nicolas A. Mueller/No. 26 BK Racing Toyota of Jeb Burton
Mueller, of Little Chute, Wis., died on Oc. 26, 2009 of wounds suffered when the MH-47 helicopter he was aboard crashed in Darreh-ya Bumn, Afghanistan, during Operation Enduring Freedom. Six others perished in the crash.
Army Spc. David T. Proctor/No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Paul Menard
Proctor, of Greensboro, N.C., was the son-in-law of RCR employee Rickey Pierce. He was 26 and assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Ga., when he died on March 13, 2013 in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.
Navy Chief Petty Officer Jason Ray Workman/No. 30 car of Jeff Green
Workman, a Navy SEAL from Blanding, Utah, died in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter in which he was riding was shot down.
Marine Sgt. Mark A. Bradley/No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Ryan Newman
Bradley was killed in action while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom as a scout sniper in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on June 16, 2011.
Army Capt. Christopher Cash/No. 32 car of Mike Bliss
Cash, of Winterville, N.C. was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 120th Infantry, Army National Guard out of Jacksonville, N.C. when he was killed June 24, 2004 after his Bradley Fighting Vehicle came under attack by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades in Baqubah, Iraq. He was 36 years old.
Army Cpl. George A. Lutz/No. 33 car of Alex Kennedy
Lutz was killed by a sniper's bullet while he was on patrol in Fallujah, Iraq, on Dec. 29, 2005. His death led to his father, George, creating the Honor and Remember Flag to honor all service men and women who never made it home.
Army Sgt. Renald J. Bouthout/No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford of Brett Moffitt
A native of Biddeford, Maine, Bouthot served two years in Germany during World War II and later spent 23 years serving in the Air Force. He was the grandfather of Robert Nicoletos, a welder with Front Row Motorsports.
Air Force Capt. John Bartley/No. 35 Front Row Motorsports Ford of Cole Whitt
Bartley was a fighter pilot in Korea after serving with the Marines during World War II. He was the uncle of Kurt Bartley, Front Row Motorsports suspension assembly mechanic.
Marine Gunnery Sgt. Floyd E. Holley/No. 40 Hillman Racing Chevrolet of Landon Cassill
Born in Winter Park, Florida on Aug. 16, 1974, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Floyd E. Holley enlisted in the Marine Corps and attended recruit training at Paris Island, South Carolina in November 1997. His personal awards and decorations include the Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Bronze Star with Valor and the Purple Heart, awarded posthumously. Holley is survived by his wife Christen, son Andrew, daughter Alyssa & daughter Sienna who was born shortly after his death.
Navy Petty Office 1st Class David M. Tapper/No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet of Kurt Busch
Tapper served his country as a Navy SEAL for 13 years and was a member of SEAL Team 6. He died when his team was ambushed from three different directions near the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan on Aug. 20, 2003.
Army Staff Sgt. Mark A Stets Jr./No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet of Kyle Larson
Stets, from Virginia Beach, Va., was killed in action while serving in Pakistan on Feb. 3, 2010. He also served with the Navy during Desert Storm.
Air Force Capt. Derek M. Argel/No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford of Aric Almirola
Argel, a Special Tactics Officer assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, perished at age 28 in a Memorial Day crash of a transport plane in May of 2005. His awards included the Bronze Star with Valor Device, the Air Force Achievement Mdeal, the National Defense Serivce Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Medal.
Marine Lance Cpl. Nathan Elrod/No. 39 car of Travis Kvapil
Elrod, of Salisbury, N.C. was assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., when he was killed on Oct. 21, 2006 while conducting combat operations in Ramadi, Iraq. He was only 20 at the time. (Although Kvapil is shown driving the No. 44 here, he will be driving the No. 39 car with Elrod's name on it in the Coke 600).
Army Cpl. Michael E. Thompson/No. 46 HScott Motorsports Chevrolet of Michael Annett
Thompson died Sept. 17, 2008, during Operation Iraqi Freedom when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter he was in went down in the vicinity of Tallil, Iraq. Six others who were aboard also perished.
Army Cpl. Darrell L. Smith/No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet of AJ Allmendinger
A very close personal friend of Brian Burns, the crew chief on the No. 47 car, Smith died on Nov. 23, 2003, while serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
National Guard 1st Lt. Robert L. Henderson II/No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson
While deployed in Iraq in April of 2004, Henderson was leading part of a convoy when his vehicle was ambushed. Despite being wounded, he drove his vehicle into a postion where he could return fire and alert the rest of the convoy not to drive into the ambush, likely saving hundreds of lives even though he lost his own. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart posthmously.
Air Force Technical Sgt. Adam K. Ginett/No. 51 HScott Motorsports Chevrolet of Justin Allgaier
Ginett, of Knightdale, N.C., was killed in action in Afghanistan in January of 2010 by an IED. He was 29.
Army Sgt. Bryan Brewster/No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of David Ragan
Brewster, the son of long-time motorsports reporter Louis Brewster from the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in California, was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on May 5, 2006 at the age of 24.
Air Force Technial Sgt. John Chapman/No. 62 car of Brendan Gaughan
Chapman, of the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, was awarded the Air Force Cross for heroic actions in Afghanistan on March 4, 2002, when he saved the lives of several others at the cost of his own after the helicopter he had been traveling in was downed by rocket fire.
Army Sgt. Edwin Penn/No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet of Martin Truex Jr.
Furniture Row Racing team owner Barney Visser served with Penn in Vietnam, where Penn was a casualty in 1968. Visser is flying Penn's family to Charlotte to see the Coca-Cola 600.
Army 1st Lt. Daniel B. Hyde/No. 83 BK Racing Toyota of Matt DiBenedetto
Hyde served oversas with BK Racing over-the-wall crew member Chris Clayton, and was killed when the helicopter he was traveling in crashed during Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 7, 2009.
Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller/No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Miller, of Oviedo, Fla., was only 24 when he died on Jan. 25, 2008, after encountering small-arms fire during combat operations in Afghanistan. At the time of his death, he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) out of Fort Bragg, N.C.
Army Cpl. Ryan D. Russell/No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Ford of Michael McDowell
Russell was killed in action by a roadside bomb in Kia, Iraq, on March 5, 2007. A combat medic who hailed from Ayden, N.C., Russell was commended by his commanding officer for the job he did while serving.
Army 1st Lt. Nainoa K. Hoe/No. 98 Phil Parsons Racing Ford of Josh Wise
A native of Kailua, Hawaii, Hoe was killed in action while leading his platoon on a patrol in the city of Mosul, Iraq on Jan. 22, 2005. He was the recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
The Unknown Solider/No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford of David Gilliland
A guard pauses at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier inside Arlington National Cemetery recently. The Unknown Soldier will be honored on the car driven by Gilliland in the Coke 600.