KINGMAN – Get ready for more motorcycle rumbling this week, and don’t be afraid to show support.
The Nation of Patriots Arizona will be cruising through Kingman Thursday, escorting an American flag for the 2017 Patriot Tour, a 100-day, 48-state trip to pay tribute and honor all of America’s Armed Forces past, present and fallen.
NOPA is part of Nation of Patriots, a non-profit group formed in 2008 with the goal to promote awareness of and financially support the physical, emotional and economic misfortune that wounded veterans and their families live with every day.
NOPA Regional Commander Dan Smith, a U.S. Air Force and Vietnam War Veteran, has been involved since 2010 when he was contacted by NOP founder Bill Sherer.
“He asked if there was anyone willing to carry the flag (through Arizona),” Smith said. “I said, ‘Hell yeah! I’ll carry the flag for anyone.’”
The Patriot Tour started on Memorial Day in Madison, Wisconsin. State NOP groups will escort one American Flag on the back of a motorcycle through numerous destinations, ending back where it started in Madison on Labor Day.
The Arizona escort will arrive 11:30 a.m. at the Elks Lodge at 900 Gates Ave., for an arrival celebration, flag exchange and lunch. The flag will be arriving from the Nevada NOP Flag riders and escorted by Combat Veteran Motorcycle Association riders. It will then travel to Williams, Arizona via Route 66 with a stop in Seligman for rehydration.
Smith expects up to 100 riders at the Elks Lodge.
“What we’re looking for is people to show up and support us, our veterans and even ride with us,” Smith said. “Donations are definitely appreciated.”
According to their website www.nationofpatriots.com, NOP is a non-profit organization working to unite Americans beneath the banner or Flag and behind the men and women serving in the Armed Forces. They raise money through a national network and distribute it directly to the families they strive to support. The families are selected mostly through the VA Hospital network.
The stress of returning wounded war vets can often be overwhelming. Every day responsibilities from buying groceries, affording car and home repairs, transportation to hospitals and child care are just a few things that may seem simple to a civilian, but can be difficult to service members carrying the mental and physical wounds of war.
“If something happens with their family, it can be overwhelming,” Smith said. “This program can help them re-assimilate,”
NOP is a 100 percent volunteer driven, with 100 percent of all donations received given directly to the veterans they strive to help. NOP works with VA facilities and many other veteran organizations to help locate and select the veteran families based on specific criteria.
“We go out and interview the veterans to get a feel for their needs,” Smith said. To help prevent fraud, NOP doesn’t hand donations directly to the veterans or their families, but rather to creditors who help with financial assistance.
NOPA has raised nearly $4,000 from donors throughout Arizona. Their trek continues July 14 when the flag will leave Williams, Arizona for a Grand Canyon flyover, courtesy of Papillion Helicopter Tours. It’ll then head to Flagstaff and cross the Arizona/New Mexico border July 15.
“People are welcome to join us anywhere this route,” Smith said. “They don’t even have be on a motorcycle.”
For more information on both the Arizona and national NOP organizations, go to www.arizonanationofpatriots.com and www.nationofpatriots.com.