Ride Prelude - Julie Manner Introduction:

Hello everyone! I am so excited to be joining the 2013 ride as your sit/rep contributor. I was born in Grosetto, Italy right before the end of WWII. My GI dad and Italian mom's amazing stories have defined who I am and the military has impacted my life enormously. This year's ride is especially important to me as my dad's ashes are making the trip with us. He would be so proud of my and Bruce's participation in this wonderful organization. This is Bruce's 6th and my 2nd ride. I am a retired teacher and hospital executive, married to Bruce for 47 years. He has done the sit/reps in the past and will help me get it right! You'll see his smiling face mostly selling merchandise. I hope you will share your experiences with me so that I can post them for all to see what an amazing mission this is. Here's to goin' ALL THE WAY!!

Countdown to 2013 NVAR ride! (Sunday May 12, 2013)
Hello from Julie (First Lady) Manner!! Eleven bikes and the chase vehicle are together enjoying a little down time in Virginia City. "Chicago Bob" and our many friends here gave us a warm welcome.
Our riders are already spreading respect to vets that we meet by pinning them with with the 2013 ride pin. Dan (Lugnut) Kuepker Had a gentleman, a Viet Nam vet, approach him in the parking lot of our hotel asking who we were. Dan told him about our mission, thanked him for his service and and asked if he could pin him with our ride pin. The guy was very appreciative and asked if Dan had any more pins. Checking his pocket, Lugnut found one more. The vet had his 91 year old mother in the car, who met and married her husband in the Navy many years ago. Lugnut pinned her, thanked her for her service, and received tears of gratitde.
Sandy (Fancy) and Ed (Silver Top) Kintele met by chance a man who recognized our group and said that he attends the reunion in Kokomo every year. What a small world.
The stories are already beginning. Be safe and we'll see you in Auburn!

Pre-Ride update (Monday May 13, 2013) - We arrived safely in Auburn, CA after a spectacular run through beautiful country in amazing weather. Riders are beginning to trickle in. It's great connecting with old friends. Looking forward to our first visit with vets tomorrow. Stay tuned!! - Julie

Day One - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 (by: Julie Manner)

The ride has begun... but first a look back. Yesterday we received a warm welcome from Maria Almes, the volunteer director of the Mather VMAC in Rancho Cordova, CA. A tour of the facility provided many opportunities to interact with vets in every area of the hospital. The center is undergoing an extensive renovation to better serve our vets, which included much needed mental health and rehab clinics. Our riders made many veterans happy that day with presentations of pins, taking an interest in their stories and, in some instances, just holding their hand. The mission has definitely begun.

Unfortunatey, Head Dog, Mongo, Botlegger and Psyche spent the whole day at the Harley shop having their bikes serviced. Psyche decided to stay with the others even though his bike was finished since it was better than getting lost finding his way home.

The day ended with a marvelous meal at the Sweet Pea. We were privileged to welcome our special guests, a 91 year old Navy vet, Isabel Robinson, her son, Viet Nam vet Harry Robinson, and his wife Lynn. We recognized our youngest rider, 10 year old William "Billy the Kid" Zachry and our oldest rider, Jug Bentley, 77 yrs old. The two who traveled the longest distance were our old friend Svein Lerbrekk coming from Norway, and new friend Paul Jorgenson from Denmark. Jerry Connor presented certificates of appreciation to the staff of Sweet Peas for opening their restaurant exclusively for us. We retired to our motel to rest up for the long awaited ride!

Wednesday, May 15 dawned beautiful and warm. Our first order of the day was a group picture of the All The Way Gang! Almost 40 riders will be in for the whole trip. Wheels up at 6:30 for a delicious breakfast hosted by the Auburn Jeep Club at the Auburn, CA Veterans Hall. Certificates of appreciation were distributed and many happy, well fed riders gave them a standing ovation! Thanks were also given to Fred Corcoran and Robert Strong for fine tuning our visit. Fox 40 Auburn came to interview Jerry Connor, our Ride Coordinator, and Svein Lerbrekk and to film our departure. We left with 47 bikes. This year we have 9 FNG's: Sam "Goofy" Pierce, Xenia OH; Ross Williams, Groveland CA; Hank Medina, Groveland CA; William "Billy the Kid" Zachry, Placerville CA; Adam Harrison, Longview WA; Mike "Slick" Berg, Rainier OR; Frank "Flipper" Wait, Coosbay OR; Terry "Pappaw" Christopher, New Carlisle OH; Jim Owen, Rainier OR. Welcome FNG's!

As we left Auburn, we detoured to Bowman Elementary School for a drive by. The whole school turned out to wave flags and give us a mighty send off. We hope to add a longer visit to Bowman Elementary next year.

110 miles later, we were met by an amazing police escort that gave us an impressive entrance to the VMAC in Reno, NV. This is one of our favorite stops on the ride. We were met by John Howard, Cary Fritz and Dr. Kurt Schlegelmilch. Certificates of appreciation were awarded. We also were pleased to award a policeman with our War on Terror Medal for his service in Desert Storm. He was proud and touched to be remembered for his service. Everyone was very gracious and the vets loved seeing the bikes. Riders mingled with vets inside and out. Of course, everyone has a special story. Rick "The Lion" Dyer visited with only one vet today. He was a three tour Viet Nam vet (66-69), in the First 9th-Army, shipped over in a WWII troop carrier. He kept reenlisting, he said, because he just didn't want to come home. Rick said that the gentleman is very proud of his service in Nam, and of the service of his two sons. One son was KIA in Afghanistan; one son fought there and returned. The Lion looked drained after his visit with this vet, but was gratified because his being there was most appreciated. We were treated to a great boxed lunch.

It was great to be met by our old friends from Virginia City Chicago Bob, who is employed at the center, and Marilyn Newton, who covered our visit for her local paper. She took lots of photos and said that she will have them arranged in gallery form on her site at RGJ.com. With flags flying at half mast in honor of National Peace Officer's Day, we said goodbye to Reno.

One of the most beautiful memorial sites we visit on the ride is the Northern Nevada Veterans Cemetery An honor guard laid a wreath on the grave of Indiana Joe Leonard, a WWII Vet and survivor of Pearl Harbor and a special friend of our ride and Head Dog Moore. The Honor Guard was: Dan "Delta Mike" Kess; Jim Owen; Mike "Slick" Burg and Chuck "Sarge" Thompson. Head Dog Moore gave a eulogy.

Another unexpected opportunity arose to honor a young veteran. He saw our riders and followed us to the cemetery to find out who we were. His name is Patrick Brennan who was seriously wounded...

Day 1 - Continued: I'm sure you all have guessed by now that the abrupt end to yesterday's sit/reps was due to a computer glitch. Well, the only glitch was me. Jackwagon, you are my hero!! Thanks to you and Bruce for getting me back in business.

What I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, Another unexpected opportunity arose to honor a young veteran. He saw our riders and followed us to the cemetery to find out who we were. His name is Patrick Brennan. This young man is only 25 yrs. old, a husband and father of two, and completely disabled. Among his injuries was a broken back and neck. He witnessed our tribute to Indian Joe and was deeply moved. When Buzz presented him with a medal for his sacrifice in Iraq, he was really surprised that anyone cared enough to acknowledge him. We made a young man who has suffered greatly very happy that day.

Day Two - Thursday, May 16, 2013 (by: Julie Manner)

Had a little rain last night, but our day again dawned beautiful. Breakfast, a prayer, and welcoming new FNG Ty Chew from Las Vegas, NV and Groveland, CA, we're on the road again! Missing Man riders were very interesting. Svein Lerbrekk was Missing Man with a very special passenger. Our brave 10 year old rider, Billy the Kid, joined Svein for this honor and was commended and pinned at the dinner meeting. Way to go, Billy!

After travelling 212 miles, Head Dog, his passenger Lon, and silver Top, Fancy, Bruce and I left the formation for a very special presentation. Last Sept. former Utah Coordinator Randy Knight had a serious motorcycle accident. He is currently recovering slowly, but is very limited physically. We detoured to the lovely home he shares with his dedicated wife Marsha and presented him with a stunning plaque of appreciation for his contributions to the NVAR. It was a very emotional and heartwarming tribute. We have some great pictures that we'll share soon.

Back on the road for a visit to another of our favorite destinations, the Salt Lake City Veteran Home. This is one of the original visitation sites for the ride. Many of our riders know residents and staff well. It is truly a mutual admiration society. This year these wonderful folks treated us to a delicious barbecue. Of course, visiting the residents is the highlight of the visit. There is 99 year old Johnny Whitley, who was a Navy Corpsman in WWII and who is running for president of the Resident Council; Gene Johnson, present resident council president, who was a motorcycle racer and has an incredible gallery of photos to prove it. He is also an amazing artist, making burned etching pictures of collectible quality. My favorite visit was to the Alzheimer and dementia ward. To see the power of a touch, a hug, or a smile, such simple things, is an experience that is life changing. Residents love the bikes and the bikers and we love everyone at the Salt Lake City Veteran Home. "Crazy" Larry Mackay has a favorite lovely lady he's been visiting for years. Every year they forget one another's names and meet as new/old friends, over and over again! It's a great place.

Our final stop was with the generous folks of VFW 4280 in Evanston, WY. Not only did they feed us extremely well with home made stew in bread bowls and yummy desserts, but they unselfishly bought many raffel tickets for the beautiful quilt made and donated by Linda and Dennis Stucki. Robin, Gene, Kay and Bev, you're terrific! Two interesting points, among many, about Evanston: Our own Ron Patzer and his wife Mary spent eleven years teaching here. It's the place that welcomed them when they were down and out. Have him tell you the story of his time here. Secondly, Evanston sponsors the Jamaican bobsled team! Now how's that for kindness? On a sad note, a young woman, Faith Leaper, asked if the riders would help her to remember her baby that died of SIDS this past Mother's Day by allowing her to place a pink ribbon on the backs of their bikes. Not only did they say a resounding yes, but the NVAR purchased the ribbons. We will honor this young life and support this grieving mother as we ride tomorrow. Good Night all.
among many

Day Three - Friday, May 17, 2013 (by: Julie Manner)

I’m going to skip ahead to bring you up to date on our beloved Bootlegger’s accident. Today in Laramie, WY while trying to safely pass two trucks, the high Wyoming winds coupled with wind shear from the trucks caused his bike to become airborne. He landed hard. He wasn’t alone. Mongo and Tank were with him and help was quickly on the way. Head Dog and the chase vehicle were on the scene shortly after. We were able to take turns sitting in the ambulance with Rich while the EMTs worked on him. He was coherent and able to answer questions well. A Medivac was summoned and he was airlifted to the medical center in Cheyenne, WY. Head Dog is with him. All of the emergency personnel said that Rich was extremely lucky. It looks as if his ankle, leg, arm and shoulder on his left side are involved. At first glance, he doesn't seem to have any internal injuries. We don’t have the specifics on his injuries, but please know that he is in good hands and doing as well as can be expected. We will keep you up to date as information becomes available. Please keep Rich in your prayers.

The day started out well, but very Wyoming windy! Missing Man riders were: Mike and Kat Tipton, Rock Springs, WY; Dan Kress, Davenport, IA; and Tony Jackson, Rock Island, IL. It’s one of our longest days, 364 miles. A color guard honored us at the Rock Springs gas stop. Thanks to Kat and Mike Tipton and state coordinator Ron. Because I was on the chase vehicle, I had to miss the visit to the vets. Thanks to Jerry Connor for highlights of the tour. A police escort got riders through the city to the Cheyenne Veteran’s Hospital. Certificates of Appreciation were awarded. Nine warriors from the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan were invited to the front and were recognized with a medal. Ambulatory patients were able to get up close and personal with the riders and their bikes. It’s amazing how many vets were once motorcycle riders. Seeing the beautiful bikes is a real treat for them. Riders also visited vets in reception and in their private rooms.

One vet in particular had a story that really touches on something that so many soldiers have in common; namely being told to do incredible things at a very young age. Tom Evans was 19 and forward observer in the 30th division artillery. He went to the front lines and would radio back, in code, coordinates so that the artillery could point and shoot accurately. He fought across France, Germany and at the Battle of the Bulge…and was not more than a teenager. Tom was bright and said that he was never scared in battle, but shook most of the next day. He always carried a carbine and his buddy next to him had a Thompson sub-machine gun… and they were only kids. Amazing that no matter the war, the young soldier is the one that carries the huge responsibility of finding the bravery to do the impossible. We humbly thank Tom for his service.

We finally caught up with our riders, but not until we had to take Chaplain Wayne Worden’s bike to the Harley dealership for repairs. Hopefully, nothing serious will keep Wayne from continuing the ride. We were treated to a pizza, salad and wonderful dessert given by the folks at the VFW Post 1818. It was very welcome after a hard ride. Jerry Connor’s father-in-law, Judge Hugh Arnold, shared some amazing memories of his three years of service as a pilot in WWII. He learned to fly at age 18 in 1942 and, by 19 he was flying solo. He lost a good friend who crashed and died on his first solo mission. Two weeks later, his bunk-mate and an instructor were killed. Hugh had interesting details about the planes he flew and how exciting he found his contribution to the war effort…and he did it as a teenager. There’s that theme of youth once again. Hugh just missed flying in the plane that hit the Empire State Building in 1945. He decided to take the train instead. We’re glad he did…and we thanked him for his service.

Some of our riders took advantage of the massage therapy students that came to give chair massages; very welcome therapies for a challenging ride

Here’s to a good ride tomorrow.

Day Four - Saturday, May 18, 2013 (by: Julie Manner)

After a much needed rest, we gathered at Post 6 in Cheyenne, WY for breakfast and the rider’s meeting. Everyone was very generous in purchasing 50/50 tickets and the winner, Jack Wagon, donated his winnings to Bootlegger. All of our 50/50 winners have been really kind and donated their winnings back to the chase truck. Our old friend George Duncan, past state coordinator for Wyoming, stopped by to wish us well. George will be moving to Kentucky soon. We wish him and his lovely wife all the best. We were able to award another War on Terror medal to Jared, an Iraq vet. He was blown up by an IED and was rehabilitated in Germany. It is a real joy to see the pride and appreciation in the faces of these young veterans. They are so surprised to be recognized. It is especially gratifying to our riders to know that we are impacting veterans of all ages. It also reminds us that it is on the backs of the young that our freedom was won and is maintained.

After breakfast, Head Dog, Baby Face, Sandy and Ed Kintzele, Bruce and I and George Duncan went to visit Bootlegger. He was able to give us instructions about what he needed. We were so happy to see him in good spirits. He felt good enough to “insist”, complete with hand gesture, that Steve “Head Dog” leave and rejoin the ride. He spent seven hours in surgery to repair various injuries, but nothing life threatening. He will remain in the hospital for 5 days to two weeks. George Duncan will look in on him often. Rich is in very good hands. Prayers and well wishes are appreciated. If you’d like to send a card, his address is: Richard Combs, C/O Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, East 24th Street, Cheyenne, WY. We secured all of his personal belongings and took his bike to the local Harley dealership and filed the proper paperwork, so all Bootlegger has to do is get well!!

Once we caught up with the ride, we were almost fifty vehicles strong. Riding Missing Man formation was: Terry Mooney, Frank Stefka,, and Linda and Dennis Stucki. Unfortunately, we were not able to make the visit to the Grand Island Veterans Home because of our chase vehicle responsibilities. I have been promised some good stories and will pass them along. Evidently, the vets were lined up outside in their wheelchairs waving flags and anticipating visits from our riders. For some of these vets, we are their only visitors. It is an honor to bring a little diversion and attention and to break the monotony of their lives for a little while. The staffs at the various places we visit tell us all the time how important our visits are to the vets. We let them know how important these visits are to US!

Our day ended with a very exuberant welcome from the folks at the American Legion Post 300 in Doniphan, NE. State coordinator Bill “Mongo” Luft had the support of so many, among them Bill “Q Tip” and members of The Purple Fish who provided a wonderful dinner. Perch never tasted so good! Mongo’s mom managed the post for 16 years and Mongo has been a member for 23 years, so it was a bit of a family affair. We were warmly welcomed, generously fed, accepted donations and had many folks purchase items from our merchandise trailer. We extend heartfelt thanks to the members of Post 300 for their warm hospitality.
Well, today was a little strange, but very satisfying. To take care of a friend in need is always time well spent. It is storming hard now…lots of wind, lightening, thunder and rain. Here’s hoping it’s clear tomorrow for good riding. As we head east, the momentum of the mission grows. Thanks for your interest in the ride and kind comments. Until tomorrow… Julie

Day Five - Sunday, May 19, 2013 (by: Julie Manner)

Happy Birthday to Silvertop and Bill “Mongo” Luft’s son! We awoke to weather forecasts of storms all around us, but the ride had a lovely crescent of good weather that got us through our travels with just a few sprinkles. We had 42 bikes, 2 trikes, three vehicles and the chase truck. Riding the Missing Man formation were: Wayne Worden, Auburn, CA; Chuck Thompson, Adel, IA, and Gold Star Father James Kearney, Emerson, IA, whose son James Jr. was KIA in Afghanistan in 2004. Thanks to Ron Immesoete for the Missing Man updates. The distance was relatively short, 239 miles, but the stops were emotional, sad, happy and humbling.

First, an update on Bootlegger: They had him out of bed today! He is doing well and appreciates everyone’s kind wishes. He will almost certainly be there for two weeks, so keep those cards and prayers coming! We are so happy that his prognosis is good. Thanks to Dan “Lugnut” for donating his 50/50 winnings to Bootlegger.

Another little glitch…Ron “Psych” Patzer had a little altercation with a curb and sprained his foot. With ice and elevation, he is hoping to be on his bike again very soon.

Our first stop was at the beautiful and inspiring Bayless Park in Council Bluffs, IA. A police escort guided us in safely. This is the tenth anniversary of the park. Very well done sculptures adorn the memorial wall. In a place of pride is the statue of Phillip H Greco, a Viet Nam KIA. Commissioned by his father from an original photo taken in Nam, the statue is eerily lifelike, down to the glasses and ammo clips taped to his rifle. Norma Faris, who served on the steering committee for the memorial park, and is a great friend of the NVAR, greeted us. The Abraham Lincoln High School Color Guard did an impressive job. A wreath was placed beneath at the statue. Wreath layers were: Hank “Hawk” Medina, Army; Ross Williams, Army; Terry “Pappaw” Christopher, Air Force; Sam Pierce, Navy. We were served one of the best meals on the ride. A highlight was Wayne Schuler’s pulled pork. This is truly one of the most generous stops on the ride. We gladly accepted many donations and awarded certificates of appreciation to some really wonderful folks.

Now for that story from yesterday’s visit to the Grand Island, NE Veterans Home that I promised. Frank “Flipper” Wait was in BUD/S (basic underwater demolition/Seal). On his first day, his instructor said, “You’re never going to make it through this course. You’re too tall and too ugly.” Naturally, this statement made Flipper determined to excel…and he did. He placed 7th in a class of 150 and one of only 9 that graduated. As Flipper was approaching the vets at the home, someone bumped him from behind and said, “This is a Seal”. Flipper looked down and spoke to the vet in the wheelchair. He asked him, “What UDT were you in?” “Eleven”, replied the vet. “So was I!” said Flipper. “What Seal Team were you in?” asked Flipper. “Two” said the vet. “So was I!” Flipper exclaimed. “Yeah, and you’re still too tall and too ugly.” replied the vet. It was the instructor from all those years ago. They hugged and cried. I got goose bumps.

At exit 86 off of 80, make a right at the end of the ramp and go one mile south, you’ll find the Freedom Rock. It has become a regular stop on our ride. Please Google Freedom Rock to learn the amazing story of this shrine. The appreciation medal for the War on Terror was awarded to Gold Star dad Jim Kearney in honor of his Son who died in Afghanistan in 2004. Terry “Pappaw” Christopher, at the request of their families, honored two vets by leaving their ashes at the base of the Rock. I left a little of my Dad’s ashes at the base of this work of art. It was a wonderful way to revere his memory in the company of people I respect and whom I’m certain he would have loved to know. Thanks for the kind support, riders. We also picked up our old friend Tony “Squirt” Cunningham in the shining Snyder Tribute Truck. Welcome aboard, Tony!

Another police escort lead us to the magnificent Iowa Veterans Cemetery. We went here to take part in a tribute to Master Sgt. Keith M. Griggs, to whom our ride is dedicated. The Five Star Freedom Riders presented it. What an elegant and touching presentation. Many friends and family attended, including his daughter and four grandchildren. Steve Mulcahy, a friend of Keith, had the honor of laying the symbolic barbed wire as part of the dedication. This was the first of these honors I have observed; truly a special experience. At the end of the ceremony, the following guard laid a wreath at Keith’s grave: Dennis Stuki; Mike “Hammerhead” Burke; Bob McNeal; Wayne Worden. Riders then passed his grave, placing coins on this tombstone in an ancient warrior tradition to honor the fallen.

Our last stop for the day was for a delicious chicken breast dinner at VFW Post 9662. Certificates of appreciation and kudos were enthusiastically delivered to Dave and his staff. After an exhausting day, the Comfort Inn looked very inviting. Unfortunately, those who arrived a little late had to run through hail and rain. The tornado sirens were screaming, but everyone was safe.

It was another great day on the ride. We are thankful to be together. Good night all. - Julie

Day Six - Monday, May 20, 2013 (by: Julie Manner)

The surprises keep on coming. Yesterday while at Council Bluffs, one of the young men who received the War on Terrorism Medal was Ed Osilca. He is a veteran of Afghanistan, Iraq and Kazakhstan. But most impressive is that he survived working in Norway for three years with Svein as his boss! No wonder we gave him a medal! Svein couldn’t say enough about what a good man Ed is. Glad to have met you, Ed!

Steve tells us that Bootlegger is doing really well. He is moving very slowly and would love to have a beer, but he is in good spirits and improving slowly. He appreciates everyone’s good wishes. Thanks to Svein for donating his 50/50 winnings to Bootlegger.

After a night of terrible storming, dawn broke warm and sunny. Now if we can only get rid of the wind, we’ll have it made. We left Des Moines with 49 bikes, one trike, 4 cars and the chase vehicle. The missing Man formation was ridden by:
Today’s ride wasn’t long in miles (209), but was chock full of visits. First there was a wonderful breakfast at AMVETS Post 2818. Heartfelt thanks to them for one of the best breakfasts on the ride.

A police escort picked us up and delivered us to the Des Moines VMAC. This place is so very special. We visited the hospice and physical therapy floors, plus any vet we may have encountered in the halls or outside. Joining us were three gorgeous therapy dogs. Patrick “Jackwagon” and his wife Lori brought Aerow and their friend Rhonda brought Champ and Cooper, who were dressed up in motorcycle goggles. These wonderful dogs bring so much cheer to the Center. It’s hard not to pet them. You could practically hear the blood pressure dropping. Another treat for the vets was Terry Christopher’s beautiful grandchild Daisy and her mom Sheila who came along for the visits today. Daisy really made the vets smile Thanks to Bart Quick and Dwayne Rider and everyone at the Des Moines VMAC for a great visit.

Next stop was the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. Once again, the therapy dogs came along. However, this time they had a little competition. Millie, a 12 year rescue dog that has lived at the home for 8 years, took great exception to other dogs on her turf. This tiny dog caused a real fuss, so the visitors just backed off and all was well. The surprises keep on happening. Bruce and I spoke to John Robinson (Ghost), a Viet Nam Army vet. He served in the Mekong Delta and Ku Chi. Out of the 500 men who were deployed with him, he was one of 24 who returned. As we were leaving, he saw the Michigan City patch on Bruce’s vest. It seems that he was born in Michigan City and still remembered landmarks and bad weather. 92-year-old Dean Prough still lives with his wife of 67 years at the home. After he landed successfully at Omaha Beach, he encountered a little 12-year-old girl with pigtails. He gave her candy bars several times and made a huge impression her with his generosity. Little did he know that 70 years later she would find him here in the states and remind him of this brief encounter. There was a guy named Billy who has no family, but lived with Aston Kutcher’s mother. Billy said that if it weren’t for him, Kutcher wouldn’t have graduated from high school. Billy was kind of a father figure to the celebrity, he said. The kind folks served us a great lunch and wished us well. Our third visit was to visit patients at the Iowa City VA Health Care System. We had a police escort help us navigate through the traffic. We were greeted by not only boxes of fresh fruit and water, but the daughters and grandchildren of Linda and Dennis Stucki brought home made cookies and gave a bag to each of us, saying thank you for our visit. The five kids range in age from 10 to 3. I guess Dennis was one of the first to pull into the parking lot and his little granddaughter asked her mom, “Did grandpa win the race?” Yes, Maya…he did! The additions of the children on this year’s run have added so much to the quality of our visit. We thank these parents for educating the children in their lives of the importance of recognizing and appreciating our veterans. It was also good to see Top’s daughter Amy and her guy Andy. There were some really great characters at this stop. Comments from 90-year-old Virginia: When she saw Jackwagon; “Now that’s a good lookin’ man! ”When she saw Mongo: “Now that’s a lot of man!” Thanks for noticing, Virginia.

Our last stop was to the Davenport All Veterans Memorial. Made of granite mined from the same place as the Wall, this impressive monument honors all branches of the service. Rather than place names on the wall, lifelike carvings in the granite of real people make this memorial very personal and special to the community, Gary White and Andy Anderson and members of VVA 299 and VVA 776 and Military Explorers Post 9444 held a poignant tribute to fallen vets. We had an honor guard from the ride participate in this ceremony, but I didn’t get the names in time for this writing. I’ll include them tomorrow, along with a listing of the Missing Man formation from today. A special plaque was awarded to Larry “The Flagman” Eckhardt from the National Veterans Awareness Ride. Larry puts up American flags, lining the streets of towns where funerals of fallen military take place. He owns in excess of 2,200 flags and performs this service in seven states. Our gift also included a monetary donation to help off set the cost of the over 70,000 miles that he travels each year. Truly a special man with a thoughtful and appreciated mission. Due to the high winds, we proceeded to the American Legion Post 26 for a presentation of the Table Ceremony. What an appropriate way to end our day of service and remembrance. The rose from the Table Ceremony was presented to Ron Patzer in memory of his son Chris. This was a touching and lovely gesture. American Legion Post #26 provided an amazing pork roast meal. The deserts were especially memorable. This was so appreciated after a long, emotional day.

Our friend Jackwagon gave us a tutorial on downloading photos from several locations. We hope that there will be enough time tomorrow to include these in the blog. Tired. Until tomorrow… Julie

Day Seven - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 (by: Julie Manner)

Catching up: I hate it when I miss something important on the ride. At every stop there are so many special moments that missing them almost hurts! One such moment is when we awarded a War on Terrorism medal to our beloved Tony “Squirt” Cunningham at the Freedom Rock. Tony is such a wonderful person and an important member of our ride. Thank you for your service, Tony! It really is amazing how the bonding that takes place after riding together for a while makes our group family. We picked up the following FNG’s: Mike Rinowski, Minneapolis, MN; Mike Swinson, Sierra, Arizona; Sue Tardif, Cheyenne, WY. Those who rode the Missing Man formation on 5/20 were: Mike Burke, Milwaukee, WI; Chuck Thompson, Adel, IA. Welcome to the family! The Honor Guards at the Davenport All Veterans Memorial yesterday were: Ty Chou; Ron Immesoete and Doc Tardif. Thanks, Top Desherow, for keeping me updated!

The weather continues to be incredible. There was wind, but the terrible weather all around us has avoided ruining our ride. Please God that our luck will continue. We were wheels up at 7:30 with 40 bikes, 2 trikes, 4 vehicles, the chase truck and the Bobber (Crazy Larry says that’s what to call the Snyder Tribute Truck!) Missing Man Formation riders today were: Frank Stefka, Comstock, NE; Dan Kress, Davenport, IA; Dan “Lugnut” Kuepker, Rolling Prairie, IN.

Marseilles, IL is always a special stop. Mayor Patty Smith saw to it that we had access to restroom facilities and coffee and donuts hosted by American Legion Post 235, to see us on our way. We then held a Wreath Laying at a beautiful memorial for our fallen warriors whose names are listed on the Middle East Conflict Wall. Wreathe Layers were: Steve “Head Dog” Moore; Tony “ Squirt” Cunningham; Ray “ Professor” Hutchinson; Kieth St. Onge. We were privileged to have vets representing WWII and the Korean Conflict in attendance. Unfortunately, the recent floods caused the Illinois River to do damage to this beautiful memorial. It was said that the spirits of the 7,444 warriors kept the wall from falling. The wall was the inspiration of two motorcyclists. All private funds made it happen. Cyclists worked especially hard to see the wall to fruition by raising enormous funds. Mayor Patty Smith and the residents and business of Marseilles are repairing the memorial to its original beauty. Last year our sit/rep and Golden Father Ghost Titus was blown away after finding the name of his beloved son Brandon on this magnificent monument. Our rider Mongo had lots of trouble last year when viewing the wall. Bill was an E9 in for seven years and lost many of the men under his command. This year Bill stayed behind until he was able to find all of the names of the men he knew. We hope that he finally has begun to find some peace. What a healing event for this brave soldier. We know that the ones left behind suffer every bit as much as those who have endured the pains of mortal wounds. Two War on Terror Medals were awarded to Sharon Perog West Chester, IL; Don Tardif, Cheyenne, WY. We thank them for their service. So many names on the Middle East Conflict Wall…too many names. God bless them one and all. Thanks to Jenny Ori, Mayor smith, Patty Sullivan for her stirring rendition of the National Anthem, and all of the folks in Marseilles for an inspiring visit.

We’ve had the dedicated services from the police in many of the towns we have visited, but the efforts of the Illinois, Indiana and Portage Police departments did a stellar job of seeing us safely though the intimidating traffic of the Chicago area. Steve Mulcahy, Larry Mackay, Buzz Neeb and our road guards did an exemplary job of leading us through potential dangerous riding. Ed Kintzele’s maneuvering of the chase vehicle was masterful, if a little scary. The man is fearless, but I am not, even in the back seat! Thanks, Ed.

The visit to the Portage High School JROTC was excellent. The kids did an impressive demonstration of precision Marine drill and exhibition team maneuvers Portage High School does an amazing job of organizing and supporting their students in the JROTC Program. They started with 300 students and ended the year with 235. The school offers credits toward graduation to kids whom enroll. Major Johnston and Master Sgt. Ed Bowers proudly recited the remarkable scholastic achievements of the kids along with their agility in the drill team exhibition. We were allowed to hold one of the drill rifles. They are really heavy! The kids twirl them effortlessly and make it look so easy. To see the kids so serious with their stoic expressions, unsmiling and intense, looking straight ahead with focused concentration is inspiring. Among the seniors, fourteen have enlisted and will report immediately after graduation, and fifteen are college bound. Portage High School has a lot to be proud of in their dedicated JROTC students. They are all required to do community service and have raised $20,000 to donate to various charities. Dan Davis, Indiana Coordinator distributed certificates of appreciation and presented the school with a new POW/MIA flag. This is a stop I hope we will continue to make. These kids are an inspiration and give us hope for the future.

After the school visit, our police escort once again saw us safely on the road. We organized on the Michigan City Harley Davidson Parking lot and were picked up by the Michigan City Police Department. The procession led us to Washington Park and the Danny Bruce Memorial. Wreath Layers were: Alan Harrison, Longview, WA; Mike Rinowski, Minneapolis, MN; Mike Sinscoe, Sierra, AZ; Rick “Captain Hook” Davis, Michigan City, IN; Essay Winner Gary Brown, LaPorte, IN. Jerry Connor recognized Charley Babcock from the Viet Nam Veterans of America Chapter 154 out of Roseville, MI. Charley and his lovely wife Ruth came to Michigan City to greet us at the Danny Bruce Memorial. Charley had a vision about recognizing our young veterans who have fought in the wars on terror. As an advocate for these young vets, he brought attention to their issues and developed the medal as a tribute to be awarded on the ride last year. His vision was well placed. Our young vets all over the country are extremely proud and pleased to receive this award. Thank you, Charley, for finding yet another way to respect and reward our military for their sacrifice.

After a delicious meal at the St. Joe Club, we all retired for a much needed rest. I can’t believe that I don’t have time to download those pictures I promised. Our day on the chase vehicle will start at 5:45 am tomorrow, so I have to get to bed. I’ll get them on here eventually and we’ll have a feast for the eyes! One sad development, our excellent partner and dear friend Sandy “Fancy” Kintzele had to leave the ride due to illness. We’ll miss you, Fancy. Get well soon! Here’s to a safe and satisfying ride tomorrow. Julie

P.S. Please forgive misspellings of names. No matter how hard I try, I have misspelled some names recently. I will try to do better!

Day Eight - Wednesday, May 22, 2013 (by: Julie Manner)

Well, it only took me eight days to figure out how to post photos! I'll add more as the days wind down. Yesterday there were 52 bikes clocked through the toll booth through chicago! Heartfelt thanks to Mike “Hammerhead” Burke for donating the tolls.

It surely felt good to sleep in our own beds in Michigan City last night. However, we ran around like chickens trying to do laundry and other chores. Bruce even got the front grass cut! The late night didn’t keep us from reporting for an excellent breakfast at the John Franklin Miller Post 37 in Michigan City. So many friends and supporters of the NVAO came to see us off and celebrate our mission.. Senator Jim Arnold and his lovely wife Lauren, Mayor Ron Meer, Michigan City Police Chief Mark Swistek, LaPorte County Sheriff Mike Moldenauer and Deputy Sheriff Jim Sosinski were there to deliver their good wishes and support in person. We were very fortunate to welcome and thank several veterans from the Life Care Center next door to Post 37. The wonderful staff also delivered boxes of delicious fruit for our riders to enjoy during the trip. There were many other very generous donations that are greatly appreciated. Kim “Sugar Cane” Davis donated her 50/50 winnings to the chase truck. Thank you, Kim! Indiana State Coordinator Danny Davis did a great job of acknowledging all of the many kindnesses with certificates of appreciation. Karla “Clutch” Lloyd received special recognition from Jerry Connor for her hard work all year for the NVAR.

The Michigan City Wall Gang has dedicated their 2013 ride to fallen warrior PFC Lawrence Free. He died in Viet Nam just 10 days after entering the country. His brother Leland and his sister were there to acknowledge this honor. It is amazing how all these years later, the hurt and sadness are still with loved ones. Leland said it feels like it happened yesterday. If we can alleviate just a bit of their suffering with a little recognition, we have accomplished our mission. A handsome poster portrait of Lawrence was signed by our riders and will be left at the wall. Rest in Peace PFC Free.

Bootlegger update! He has been moved to a rehab Center. It looks like his recovery is moving along well. Let’s keep those prayers and good wishes coming!

We are happy to welcome on the ride Wall Gang Essay winner Gary Brown, LaPorte, IN. Also, welcome to FNG Joe Braunschneider, Adrian, MI. Missing Man Formation riders were: Steve “Head Dog” Moore, Michigan City, IN; Terry Hoops, Brookville, OH; and Dan Tardif, Cheyenne, WY.

She and the rest of the family were presented with the professional posters that the Wall Gang had created advertising and informing the public that the Ride was dedicated to local Veteran Michael Kelly.   The ad also invited riders to join the NVAR to the Wall and I bet we picked up about 40 or 50 more while we were there.

We left in a light rain at 8:00 AM. 256 miles was our goal today. The farther east we went, the better the weather got. It was really great to see so many folks out along 421 waving flags. School children were out in force excitedly cheering as we passed. Through La Cross, San Pierre, Francesville and Monon, sometimes crowds, sometimes single families, and sometimes just one person, shouted and whistled as we passed. We did a quick stop to replace the POW/MIA Flag at West Central School as we do every year. The kids absolutely love seeing all of the bikes and high-fiving riders and Ed Kintzele! We are planting seeds all across the country. Mike Burke told the Story of Jasmine, an 8TH grader that he; Top and Chaplin Wayne spoke to. She is from a very military family and just lost her grandpa, a WWII vet. She said that she is very proud to be an American…then cried with our guys over the loss of her beloved relative. That’s what it’s all about… sharing our humanity.

Especially gratifying is our stop at the Indiana Veterans Home. This is a great facility on beautiful grounds that offer all services on varying levels for our veterans and their spouses. It even has a lovely cemetery for our vets when they are laid to rest. This is the first visit in many years without our friend WWII veteran Charley Hovey. Charley died a few months ago at age 92. He used to make our wreathes for the Tomb of the Unknown. Rest in peace, Charley, and thanks for everything. The folks at the home served us lunch that we were able to share with many ambulatory vets. One of our favorites is Ruby Tam. Recently widowed, Ruby loves her assisted living apartment at the home. She kept Bruce and me entertained with her many stories. We think that we’ll be visiting Ruby throughout the year. Many of our riders also visited those who are not able to get out. Psych Patzer spent his whole visit with Amos, an 88-year-old WWII Vet who served in the Philippines. He is a very small man, but brandished a Browning auto, no easy task. Amazingly, Amos’ mother is still with us at age 112, a brother at age 94 and his wife at age 86. Ron said that Amos doesn’t like to talk about combat. When Ron asked him if he had been back to the Philippines, Amos said that he was just there last night. He still has nightmares. He and Ron cried together. To draw out the demons is really satisfying.

On the way to Brookville, the chase vehicle assisted Larry and Theresa Patzer when their bike broke down, so we missed all of the introductions and appreciation awards. We were late to the feast, but there was more than enough left. This has to be the most amazing buffet ever offered on the NVAR. Everything was home made and absolutely delicious. I can’t imagine how many people it took to prepare this awesome dinner. We thank John Childers and his many assistants for an excellent celebration. This is always a favorite stop… almost like coming home. Everyone is so kind and helpful. We hope to keep coming back every year.

Well, tomorrow will be here in the blink of an eye. Good night all. Julie

Day Nine - Thursday, May 23, 2013 (by: Julie Manner)

6:30 AM and another delicious breakfast, this time served by the kind folks of VFW Post 3288. Steve Moore gave an update on Bootlegger: He is doing well in rehab. His address is: Richard Combs, C/O Cheyenne Regional Medical Center ARU , East 24th St., Cheyenne WY 82001.

As a courtesy, Top was kind enough to “rearrange” the flags for this post, as he did for many others across the country. Mayor Dave Seagraves had kind words and wishes for a safe ride and Commander Paul Griffin did the same, as well as add a generous donation to the chase truck. Certificates of appreciation were distributed. Terry “Pappaw” passed out pens that he had made with the NVAR logo to everyone in the building! Thanks, Terry! We left Brookeville with 66 bikes, 3 trikes, 5 vehicles, the chase truck and the Ride of Pride. What an impressive sight it made, especially as the terrain got more mountainous. Riding Missing Man Formation was: Alan “Lumberjack” Harrison, Long View, WA; Terry and Leeann Christopher, Dayton Ohio. Later, Ron explained the reason for the Missing Man Formation is to honor all whom we have lost and can’t ride with us ever again.

Our first stop was at the Chillicothe VA Medical Center. Since we had little time, we dropped off fifteen riders to visit the vets and join us later. The rest of us proceeded to Southeastern School in Chillicothe, OH. Police and Sheriff’s officers stood at the entrance at attention and saluted as we passed. I know I keep saying this, but this is one of the best stops on the ride. You will never find a more patriotic school than Southeastern. Today they honored four fallen heroes, all former students who have memorials on the school grounds. Today having a highway dedication in their name as per the House Bill 325 further honored them. These young men were intelligent and had so much promise. They were: Pvt. 1st Class Gavin Colburn (State Rt. 138); Marine Lance Cpl Aaron Reed (US Rt. 50); Air Force Master Sgt. Brad Clemmons (Stet. Rt. 104); and Army Sgt. Joshua Gire (St. Rt. 772). Many family members and many dignitaries were present to witness and bestow these honors. This school is a wonderful family. Among them were Principal Leonard Steyer, Rev. Joe Barker, Friend of Aaron Reed, Mr. James Barker, former student, State Reps. Gary Scherer and Jason Dominguez, Asst. Dir of Dept. of Veterans Services, State NVAO Coordinator John Childers and National Coordinator Jerry Conner. Buzz Neeb presented our War on Terror Medals to family members of the fallen. I wish I could take the time to tell every aspect if this amazing program. It was an honor to be a part of it. The heartbreaking sight of a small boy having a medal placed around his was heartbreaking. He and his sister will never see their father again. Our heartfelt condolences go out to these families for their terrible loss. The luncheon that followed was huge! Delicious home made dishes got us on our way in style. We look forward to seeing these wonderful people next year.

We arrived at the school with 65 bikes. We left with 85! Once again, officers saluted as we passed. Thank you, Chillicothe, for an inspiring visit!

Clarksburg-Louis Johnson VMAC was our next opportunity to bring a little joy to vets. Ray “Professor” Hutchinson delivered a lovely quilt that was the gift of a nurse in the VA hospital in Des Moines. On the back of the quilt is written: “To honor the Men and Women in the Military - 0108-13-WI “. We displayed the quilt in the hospital and had riders sign it. A veteran in the hospital will receive it as a gift. Many thanks to Director Beth Brown and Judy Finley and all of the staff for making us feel very welcome.

What a wonderful sight all of those bikes made snaking around the mountains to Clarksburg, WV. Our welcome was warm at VFW Post 573. Commander of the State VFW Jim Talerico and Grace Max, President of the State VFW Aux. Thanked us for honoring vets and for visiting them again this year. A fine dinner was provided.

We have just come from the “family meeting”. It is the last time that we will be formally together on the ride. Where have the days gone? My heart is heavy that we’ll be parting soon…but full to brimming with fond memories. Being with my NVAO family is something that Bruce and I will always cherish. Tomorrow we’re off to the Wall. It will be an emotional and wonderful day. - Julie

Day Ten - Friday, May 24, 2013 (by: Julie Manner)

Our day was another early one and, unfortunately, dawned gray, wet and cold. The morning meeting was a bit somber too, since it was our last of the 2013 ride. The brave riders really had a challenge to keep warm and functioning in the wet and miserable wind. There were 91 bikes, 2 trikes, five vehicles; the chase truck and the Ride for Pride. Everyone was amazing. They rode so well together, keeping formation rather well in spite of conditions. Riding Missing Man Formation was: Sam Pierce and his fiancé Sarah Welsh, Xenia, OH; Jim Owens, Portland, OR.

Our first stop was Rocky Gap Maryland Veterans cemetery. This memorial is placed in a lovely valley with breathtaking scenery all around. A representative from the Maryland Department of Veteran affairs, who applauded our mission and thanked us for coming, welcomed us. Students from an Allegheny High School Government class spent hours placing American flags on the graves of vets, making an impressive display. Head Dog Moore, Maryland coordinator, distributed certificates of appreciation to all who helped put the service together. The American Legion Post 13 provided the color guard. This conscientious post services 190 to 195 veteran funerals a year. Top Desherow appointed the following men as Wreath Layers: Terry Mooney, “Bruce Almighty” Manner, Frank “Tank” Stefke, and Frank “Flipper” Wait. Thanks, Top, for arranging another fine schedule for laying wreaths of honor on the graves of vets across the country.

We were so proud of how our group managed the horrendous traffic and patterns into Washington, DC. This was by far the best ride into the capital in many years. Our riders stayed together and arrived at Arlington Cemetery as if they knew what they were doing! Great job, Steve, Buzz, Larry and road guards. It was painless!

“Here rests in Honored Glory an American Soldier Known But to God” - Written on the Tomb of the Unknown. Last night, in my tired stupor, I said that we were going to the wall. I was wrong! Today’s emotional and proud moment came when four of our riders laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown. Chosen for this honor were: “Mongo” Bill Luft, Chaplain Wayne Worden, Dennis Stuki, and Terry Mooney. Our guys cut a fine figure in their patriotic uniforms. They did us proud by their efficient and respectful presentation. First we were treated to the changing of the guard… always impressive. After the ceremony, Head Dog provided a guide that explained the duties of the Tomb Guards. Our guide also answered many questions that clarified the myths attributed to this very special duty. The tram driver who took us to and from the tomb gave us a brief and informative tour of this most beloved American memorial. As always, it was inspiring. It was cold and windy, but we left with warm hearts.

You know, I think that road names are one of the most interesting and fun idiosyncrasies of biking. Even though it doesn’t help me to remember folks’ names very well, (many I only know by their road name and have to keep asking who they are!) Some road names are given to people because of their occupation (We know an electrician named Sparky…and then there’s Lugnut, and our dear Professor and Psych); or a mental condition (There’s Crazy Larry); or an overachiever (I’m married to Bruce Almighty!); or reflecting their leadership qualities (as in Head Dog and Watch Dog); or a personality distinction (Hammerhead, you know who you are!); or obvious physical characteristics (As in Tank and Squirt, and Silvertop); there is the purveyor of fine spirits (Hey Bootlegger!); and there are names given to them because of their military service (as in Top); or for their sense of style (as in Fancy). Other names need explanation, sometimes LOTS of explanation (Wouldn’t you love to know how Mongo and Flash, Loopy, Clutch, Taco, and Puppies got their names?) As a person who does not have a history of biking, I am proud to death to have my own road name. Thanks, Wall Gang for bestowing First Lady on me! Do yourself a favor. Ask some of your biking friends how they got their road names. I guarantee you will be enlightened and entertained!

Please keep tuned to the NVAO site. We have decided to make an album of photos of this year’s ride and put it on the page. So many people have taken some wonderful photos. I’m going to take a little break to catch up on some sleep, but will continue to post as information and photos warrant.

I can’t believe that this year’s ride is ending. So many sweet and a few bittersweet memories are written in my brain and heart. If there is one thing that has struck me more than anything as I continue to ride across our great country, it’s that we are a nation of patriots. I don’t mean the politicians or the moguls, the rich or the famous. I mean the middle class of America… the ones that are keeping this great country afloat. It has been an honor to be a part of this incredible ride and to know all whom are part of it. The honor extends to all of the heroes, living and past. that have given us a legacy to cherish. And, it extends to all of the wonderful people who line the streets to cheer us on, the truck drivers and motorists who give us a toot on their horn or a thumbs up, and the students and teachers who are carrying the torch for future generations. One motorist today held a small American Flag in his hand, got our attention, waved it and touched it to his heart. Believe me, Patriotism is alive and well in America. From my heart, thanks to all of the people we have met for restoring hope and making the future seem brighter.

Tomorrow we’ll be at the wall. It will be another memorable day.

Thanks so much for all of your kind comments. Doing this has been a joy for me. - Julie

At The Wall - Saturday, May 25, 2013 (by: Julie Manner)

I'm afraid I don't have much to say about the trip to The Wall today because I missed going with our group. There was a personal journey Bruce and I had to make, which was to the WWII Memorial. I brought some of my dad's ashes with us this year and left some at the Freedom Rock, The Tomb of the Unknown and last, in the Maryland section of the WWII Memorial. It was so sad that this memorial took so long to complete. Problems and politics delayed it's opening for too many years. Even our neglected Viet Nam Soldiers had their memorial before the WWII vets. For my dad to see this shrine in his honor was my fondest wish. Bringing his ashes here today is HUGE for my family and me. Next year it is our hope to bring his remaining ashes to Arlington to be put to rest.

As we walked through the WWII Memorial, we encountered more WWII vets than we have ever seen in one place. As we pinned them and thanked them for their service, we found out about an excellent program that helps to get WWII vets to visit this magnificent memorial in their honor. It is called the Honor Flight Network, an organization that takes WWII vets to D.C. for free. They’ve flown 110,000 vets, now mostly in their 80s and 90s, to the memorial since it opened in 2004. The film Honor Flight, about one such trip, is available on video on demand via Snag Films. If you are lucky enough to have a WWII vet for a parent still alive, Google honorflight.org for more information. We are losing our WWII vets at an alarming rate. It is great to see so many able to take advantage of this super program.

As we made our way closer to the wall, we encountered many of our folks paying tribute at the other beautiful memorials dotted along the way. We found Lon and Marybea Varvel, their son, daughter-in-law and Billy the kid at the nurses memorial paying respects in honor of Marybea’s deeased mom, a wartime nurse. We learned that there was a contingent of South Vietnamese vets paying tribute at The Wall. Troy Hulse and Mike Shafer said that they played the United States and South Vietnam anthems as part of the ceremony. Dr. Hai C. Ta, MS, JD, who is the chairman of The Coalition of the Republic of Viet Nam Veterans Associations of Washington DC and Vicinities, met us on the path, introduced himself, gave us his card, and thanked our guys for their service. Heartwarming, to say the least! If you are interested in further information, this coalition has a website at: http://lhccshtd.org/. Mike and Troy said that there were South Koreans paying tribute at the Korean War Memorial. Memorial Day is a wonderful time to visit DC!

Our beloved Top Desherow stuck with two FNG’s as they went to the wall for the first time. This is one of Top’s most important kindnesses. He is so supportive and knows just how to get the guys through the many times unexpected emotional onslaught. We were so surprised to learn that in this year’s Vietnam Magazine Official Guide, May 24-27, Top’s picture is on the second page! He has become quite the celebrity. Many of us got a copy and had him autograph it for us. Thanks so much to Mike Shafer for my copy. If you’d like a magazine, you can find it at the Harley Davidson Dealership.

After we returned to the hotel, we regrouped for the Accokeek Volunteer Fire Department Activity Center where our brothers and sisters of the DC Ramblers Motorcycle Club provided a wonderful lunch for us. As we walked in to the center, two ten year old boys dressed in firefighter’s uniforms stood at attention saluting until all of us were inside. Steve “Head Dog” Moore has developed a real friendship with this organization over the years that extend to all of us. One of their members is Jack Sands, the founder of the Yellow Ribbon Ride. We thank President of the DCR, Mike Martin, Club members and all of their members and spouses for their gracious hospitality. Thanks to our old friend Sparky who passed out a case of delicious home made fruit cakes, a gift to us from a vet who bakes hundreds of them each year. We had our ten-year-old saluting fireman choose the winner of the quilt. Amazingly, it was Jerry Connor! Jerry donated the quilt to the DCR with the stipulation that they exhibit it when we come to visit. It is always a pleasure to visit our DCR brothers and sisters.

Finally, the following folks would appreciate anyone who has photos of the wreath laying at the tomb to please email them:

Wayne Worden – wworden@wavecable.com
Dennis Stucki – dadstuke@aol.com
Terry Mooney – linda.mooney@earthlink.net
Bill Luft – livinglegendwll@yahoo.com

Well, I think that will do it for this year’s sit reps, unless something really cool happens. Thanks for your many encouraging comments. You’ll never know how much I have appreciated this opportunity.

Fondly, Julie