Even in a long line of American military heroes, Master Sgt. William “Spanky” Gibson stands out. He’s the first service member to return to the front lines after losing a leg above the knee.

Coca-Cola and racing fans around the country will pay tribute to Gibson’s unmatched heroism and the unending service of the entire U.S. military during the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway this Memorial Day weekend.

Gibson is delivering the command for the 52nd running of the Coca-Cola 600 (May 29, 6 p.m. on FOX) as a guest of Coca-Cola. Joining Gibson in delivering the most famous words in motorsports will be John Falkenbury, president of the North Carolina chapter of the USO, the organization that brings a touch of home to American service members around the globe.

Gibson’s military service is a story of strength, determination, and unwavering commitment to country and colleagues. In May 2006, while serving with the Marines in Iraq, Gibson and fellow service members on patrol in Ramadi came under sniper attack. Gibson was struck in the left knee. Despite a devastating injury, he continued to return fire.

Back in the United States, Gibson never lost focus of his goal to return to battle. Fitted with a prosthetic leg, he learned to walk, run, ski and swim. After competing in the grueling Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, his commanders offered him a return stint in Iraq – a deployment Gibson eagerly accepted.

Gibson, who now works at the Pentagon, will be joined at the track by his family, including his father, William Gibson, Sr., a Vietnam War veteran who will be celebrating his 71st birthday on race day.

“Paying tribute to America’s military has become part of the Memorial Day weekend tradition as thousands of fans gather for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway,” said Ben Reiling, Director, Sports Marketing, Coca-Cola North America. “By recognizing a true hero like Master Sgt. William “Spanky” Gibson, Coca-Cola is inviting racing fans everywhere to join together in celebrating all of America’s dedicated service members.”

In addition to honoring Gibson, Coca-Cola 600 festivities will pay tribute to all veterans and active U.S. military servicemen and women. The spectacular pre-race show will include a military assault demonstration by Special Operations soldiers from Ft. Bragg, N.C., on-stage recognition of Medal of Honor recipients, the unfurling of an 11,250 square-foot American flag by family members of active-duty soldiers, and an inspiring flyover by military aircraft.

Tickets for Troops

Coca-Cola and North Carolina-based Coca-Cola Consolidated are partnering to provide 600 tickets to troops stationed at area bases. The companies have purchased the tickets through a program called  Let the Troops Race, which gives individuals and companies the chance to purchase tickets for just $20 to send a member of the U.S. armed forces to the Memorial Day Weekend race.

In addition, Charlotte Motor Speedway offers specially priced race tickets to all members of the U.S. armed forces who wish to purchase tickets directly. Military personnel can contact the ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS and supply a military identification number for specific details.