News Item: Bikers thunder into Bedford
(Category: Biker News)
Posted by MJF
Thursday 01 June 2006 - 11:19:39

Bedford Bulletin

Bikers thunder into Bedford
By John Barnhart

Approximately 380 motorcycles rolled into Bedford, Thursday, stopping at Montvale Elementary School for lunch before laying a wreath at the National D-Day Memorial.

The bikers are members of Rolling Thunder, a veterans organization consisting of motorcycle enthusiasts. Every year, they stop by Bedford on their annual "Run for the Wall." The Wall is the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D. C.

The bikers aren't all Vietnam veterans. The oldest veteran was Wallace Woodyard, a D-Day veteran. Woodyard, a Navy veteran, was part of the crew of an LCVP in the first wave. An LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) was a small landing craft which carried 36 men, and their equipment, and was designed to run aground on the beach and discharge the men through a bow ramp.

Rolling Thunder picked up Woodyard in Pulaski.

The youngest members are veterans of the current fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rolling Thunder starts out in California and rides across the continent. The group divides into two routes, which merge in northern Virginia. The merged routes, with 1,000 bikes, then roll into Washington.

The southern route comes through Bedford.

According to Don "9 Ball" Morris, who led the southern route from California, elementary schools are important to them and they frequently stop at schools all along their route. One of their goals is to help educate youth, pointing out to them that it's veterans who, through their military service, bought them their freedoms. Morris is an Army veteran who served in Vietnam.

As they rode up the driveway into Montvale Elementary, the motorcyclists were greeted by an enthusiastic group of children, cheering and waving American flags. According to Janet Brouhard, the school's principal, the students' families donated $1,100 to buy the vets lunch. During lunch, the veterans sit with the children.

"They kind of adopted us as one of their schools," she said.

Last year, according to Brouhard, the vets gave the school $5,000, which was used to buy an automatic screen which rolls up out of the way, and a projector for the cafeteria, which is also used for student assemblies. This year, the veterans got to see what their money bought.

According to Laurie Clay, the Virginia coordinator for Run for the Wall, they donated $6,000 this year. May is an Army veteran, an Airborne vet, who served in the Army from 1985 until 1991.

It was a long day for the riders, who got on the road, that day in Wytheville. It was an especially long day for the organizers.

"I was up at 4 a.m., " she said.

Organizing the ride is a big job. Morris said that a month after each year's ride, they start organizing for the next year. And, it isn't a one-man show, either.

"I have 115 people on the leadership team," Morris said.

Morris is going to take on another volunteer job this summer. He's joining the Patriot Guard.

The Patriot Guard's mission is to show up at the funerals of servicemen, at the invitation of the family, and shield the mourning family and friends from interruptions created by any protester or group of protesters. The organization got started last August when a group of Legionnaires, appalled by the tactics of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church members, decided that something had to be done to prevent intrusions on military funerals.

This news item is from White Trash Networks
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