As part of the annual NASCAR Salutes Together at the Coca Cola 600 event on May 30, members of the U.S. military who have died in service will be honored, including Sgt. Michael Uvanni of Rome, who was a fan of auto racing.
“Michael was a big fan of NASCAR,” said his mother Janet. She said he and his cousin would watch on television and at several tracks.
“I’ll be home watching it,” she said of the race where he’ll be honored. “I was really excited,” she said of the plan to honor him this way. “It was an honor for my son.”
The Greater Rome-Utica Chapter of Military Officers’ Association of America was asked by NASCAR to nominate a Rome area military service member to be memorialized at the race.
Sgt. Uvanni’s name, and possibly his picture, will appear on the Daugherty Racing Chevrolet Camaro No. 47 driven by Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
During the Coca-Cola 600 race weekend, NASCAR and Coca-Cola will host Gold Star Families. All 40 NASCAR Cup Series cars will feature the name of a fallen service member on the windshield during the race. During the broadcast of the Coca-Cola 600, FOX will display the name of every U.S. Armed Forces member who lost their life since last year’s Memorial Day weekend race as part of a tribute. FOX’s scroll will begin during its pre-race show at 5:30 p.m.
Sgt. Uvanni was born March 13, 1977. He was killed on Oct. 1, 2004, in Samarra, Iraq. He was a member of the New York Army National Guard. He was the only child of Kevin and Janet Uvanni. He graduated from Rome Free Academy where as a football player earning All-League defensive end honors as a senior. Six months after graduation, he joined the Marine Corps in December 1996, and served in various infantry assignments until leaving the Marines in December of 2003. In January 2004, he joined the New York Army National Guard. On Oct. 1, 2004, during combat operations near the town of Samarra, his unit came under attack from an insurgent force and he was killed while helping soldiers respond to the ambush.
Patrol Base Uvanni in Samarra was named in his memory and Uvanni Park is a block away from the family home on Lynch Street in Rome.