A few hundred motorcycle riders rumbled into Kingman May 9 on their "iron horses," participating in the Run For The Wall XXVII that began in Ontario, Calif., and will end in Washington, D.C.
Although only about 200 motorcyclists departed Ontario, it is estimated that the run will "pick up" additional riders along the way across the United States and will ultimately include more than 2,000 when they arrive at their destination on the East Coast.
The ultimate destination of the riders will be at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, located at the 3-acre national memorial in the District of Columbia. The Wall honors U.S. service members who died in service in Vietnam/Southeast Asia, and those service members who are currently listed as missing in action during the war.
"We ride for those who can't," said Ken "Wish" Hargrove, the board president for Run For The Wall. "They are six simple words with a very deep and wide meaning. We ride to bring awareness of the POW/MIA issues and the thousands of our brethren who have yet to be brought back home, and to shine a light on the government's lack of attention to this solemn commitment to leave no one behind."
According to the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, there are still 1,627 U.S. servicemen still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.
The motorcycle enthusiasts from all walks of life, from RUBBI's (Rich Urban Bikers) to hard core riders ascended upon Mother Road Harley-Davidson in Kingman for a break in their 2,600-plus mile journey and received a free lunch hosted by the dealership and prepared by the Kingman Fraternal Order of Elks Lodge #468.
Along their journey, the riders will visit VA Medical Centers, veterans' memorials, veterans' outreach facilities, VFW Posts, American Legion Posts, and community centers, as well as schools along their routes.
All three routes - southern, central, and midway - began in Ontario on May 13. They will separate and rejoin in Arlington, Va., May 23. After departing California, stopping in Kingman and arriving in Flagstaff, the group split into three runs; one heading along the I-40 corridor, another heading through Kansas, and the third travels south through New Mexico.
Included in the mix of riders were members of various motorcycle clubs and individuals who wanted to take to part in the mission and enjoy the open road.
Much has been written about the Run For The Wall, and according to "run" officials, it is not a bucket list event, but rather a mission. The founder's original purpose of the run was to bring America's attention to the fate of our missing in action, our prisoners of war and our veterans.
"We have said over and over, this is a mission," said Charlie Mike, who goes by the nickname Stony and is the 2015 Southern Route Coordinator for the run. "Our purpose for 2015 is to continue the mission."
The mission statement for Run For The Wall is: "To promote healing among all veterans and their families and friends, to call for an accounting of all prisoners of war and those missing in action, to honor the memory of those killed in action from all wars, and to support our military personnel all over the world."