Sacramento VA Medical Center – Mather, California
Tuesday May 17th, Auburn, CA (Day One) Displays in Right Frame

From across the land 
they rode with intent, 
it’s been two seasons, 
you know they rode hell-bent.

Double-D left his ranch in Ohio, for the shore of a great lake, Headdog and his brothers, knew he wouldn’t be late. Westward the pack grew, while Buzz had his crew, with sons and a nephew, and Jerry, too! Late in the eve, in an old west saloon, Quacker and Speedbump strolled in, and they were not aloone! At ground zero for the ride, we met a Dean from Weed, a Wayne, an Ed, and a Fred, and  a Whatabout, indeed.

Virginia City welcomed the westward pack for a long awaited reunion; and most of what happens in Virginia City, doesn’t stay there! The Buzz crew arrived in Auburn (Ground Zero) with time to tour: a few miles below Auburn, the fourth highest bridge in America crossed a gorge. The bridge is infamous for jumpers to hurl themselves off, to meet their end; despite a sign that notes an ordinance which prohibits jumping. The Buzz crew went on to visit a peace garden at the home office for The Forgotten Soldier Program (FSP). The FSP, a non-profit organization, was founded in 2005, by Donna Arz, PhD, with Robert Hipwell, Major General USV-A, Brigadier General USAR (Ret.) as president. The FSP offers unlimited services to veterans and their families, with over 22,000 assisted at no cost to the veteran or family. Please refer to their .com website for the extent of their services and support. 

Board members, state coordinators, and countless volunteers across the country have totaled an excess of 1,001 hours in preparation for our ride, and with that behind us, the mission of the NVAR is rocking! 

This year’s ride is dedicated to our Dearly Departed Brother, Patrick Gordon, aka Trick, whose slogan has become a battlecry for the Ukrainians: GFY, or Golf Foxtrot Yankee, or frankly speaking — Go F++k Yourself! The spirit of Trick rides with us.

Tuesday began as each day will, with a riders meeting led by our Ride Coordinator, Jerry Conner, who briefs us with particulars on the days events, the Ride Guard Captain, Patrick Martindale, will have words for our safe passage, and our Chaplin, Wayne Worden, will have words for our blessed guidance. Wayne, also the state coordinator, along with Kristin Wells, Principal of Bowman Elementary School, arranged for the first visit of our ride. In a packed gymnasium, Headdog, our Ride Leader, led all in the Pledge of Allegiance. It was great to hear the young echos in the gym. Then, Jerry narrated a slide presentation to explain the purpose of our mission, with time for some very good questions afterward.   A flag raising followed in the warm California sunshine with the Star Spangled Banner sung by a member form the VFW. Our visit was not lengthy, but our message remained strong; to remember those who sacrificed for us, and to Never Forget.

Back at the hotel, Crazy Larry and Svien had shown up, a surprise to me! Larry was the past Road Guard Captain, and Svein, retired from the Norwegian Military, has been a regular on many NVAR’s, usually barefoot in sandals, but with socks this year. Go figure!

We rode through the heat of California sunshine and traffic without an escort to the Mather VMAC in Sacramento. Thirty five bikes stretched across a center lane looked more like a hundred, and traffic was considerate to our formation. John Larson, the director at Mather, welcomed us and gave us the low-down on Covid restrictions. Sadly, we would not visit veterans in hospital rooms. Masks were required on the property and the extent of our contact was limited to a common waiting area. Yet, we met with veterans, wives of veterans, and those who care for them. The veterans have a great appreciation for the cards from kids that we’ve collected from our support around the country. They write their thanks and get well the way a first grader does, and it just thrills the vets.

A Medal of Freedom was given to an Iraqi Veteran. These medals were give to us by the Vietnam Veterans of America for a presentation to all veterans we meet who served in the War on Terror. As the Vietnam Vets were not given a proper welcome home and thanks for their service, they want to insure that never happens to another veteran from any service to their country.

We lucked out with no delay on our ride back to Auburn, and found Rick Dyer, aka The Lion, who rode down from Livingston, as in Montana. Glad to have him as far as Cheyenne.

As usual, Sweet Pea’s Restaurant hosts our last evening meal, and a fine feast it is with selections of our choice. While we dined, Jerry had a long list of information to share for the ride we’re about to make, with Patrick taking charge to lay down the law for our safe passage across America.

And to that end, riders full from the feast, fill their tanks for an early ride to a hearty breakfast.

I hope you will enjoy the photos and follow the NVAR to Washington D.C. 

Thank You & Never Forget – Mike (Track) Rinowski

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