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Ride for Freedom 2006 Huge Success
Posted on June 07, 2006

Ride for Freedom 2006 great success.

Wednesday, May 24th at Frankfort, KY, I met folks that had rode from Louisville, KY. and other areas at a BP station in Frankfort, KY. Vearl Pennington was there with his video equipment. He was going to film the entire ride and program from Kentucky to LZ Rainelle. TFO of KY is taking orders for the Ride for Freedom DVD’s. If you want one, send payment of $15.00 to TFO of KY Inc. at 1206 Planck Rd., Flemingsburg, KY 41041 and we will send to you. We rode from the BP station with a police escort with Mayor Bill May in the front. Our route took us past the Elementary and High Schools where the staff and students were waving and cheering. The High School had a POW/MIA flag raising before we arrived. We rode around the State Capitol and on to the KY Vietnam Veterans Memorial. We arrived at the Memorial at about 1:30. Run for the Wall had left there at around 12:30. We had gotten too large to ride together, just getting fuel for over 500 motorcycles and the safety concerns caused us to separate several years ago. We would see Run for the Wall at the Rainelle, WV School on Thursday. Frankfort Postmaster and TFO of KY member, Tom Adkins, had a special cancellation in the mobile Post Office at the Memorial. We had a great ceremony there with Dona Schicker leading us in prayer and the history of the memorial by Vietnam Veteran Col. (ret) Larry Arnett. Monica, aka “Lil Sis”, was with us and gave all the veterans a present, with a very special message.

We left there and rode to the Lions Club Park in Owingsville, KY, where we met many friends and the Short Arm Gang, who has been feeding us for many years. Chris Pfeffer and son Scott had the “break down” vehicle ready. Our break down trailer has a guard tower on the front and the sides are lined with barbed wire with eyes looking out. The back doors open to load bikes in case of a break down. Thank you Chris and Scott so much. John “Gunny” Costigan escorted us from Frankfort to Owingsville where he had Jim Beam bottles that were printed with “Task Force Omega of KY Ride for Freedom 2006”, which he gave to everyone. John also has DVDs of last year’s pictures and will soon have 2006 pictures on DVD. His web sight is www.jcostiganphotography.com. At 6:00 PM, the Rev. John Steer sang and entertained the crowd. At 7:00 PM, we had our program, which included some awards to individuals and organizations that had helped on the POW/MIA issue. Chris Paul played the bagpipes and Vearl Pennington played TAPS on the bugle during the program. Gerald McCullar was in the POW cage. Bath Co. VFW Honor Guard posted colors. Children released a black balloon for each Kentucky POW/MIA from the Vietnam War. We also recognized an Iraq Veteran and POWs Scott Speicher and Matt Maupin. WWII, Korea, and Vietnam infantry Veteran John “Top” Holland spoke about each war and what law had left our POW/MIAs abandoned. Rev. Lowell Rice, Rev. John Steer and Pastor Paul Shorpa married Tamara “Tiny” Gilkerson and I. Yes, It was a surprise to everyone, including my mother, who was in the crowd. We even had to tell one preacher 5 minutes before. Tamara, myself and less than 10 other people knew about the wedding beforehand. The town of Rainelle knew, as we were going there for our reception.

Thursday May 25th , we ate breakfast, thanks to the Short Are Gang. We had a Bike Blessing at 7:30 AM with Catholic Clergy Bill Grimes. At 8:00 AM, we rode with police escort through Owingsville, KY and on towards Rainelle, WV.

At our first gas stop at Cannonsburg, KY, we were met by a reporter from the local radio station. (He had been alerted by a phone call from Kathy Ford.) Red Bull also had people there to give everyone a Red Bull energy drink. The reporter asked what the hundreds of motorcycles and vehicles were about. I said it is not about the motorcycles and leather or Task Force Omega of KY, it was about American POW/MIAs being abandoned after all of our wars. We want the information about them declassified and every effort made to bring them home.

About 15 miles west of Rainelle is Lookout, WV and the Nutall Middle School. Lookout Postmaster Debbie Martin had asked us to stop at the school before we went on to Rainelle. The school would have patients from the Beckley VA Hospital there that would visit with the school before we arrived. A local church would be feeding them. We arrived and the school band was playing and students and staff were waving. As we pulled into their football field, the emotions were very intense. When the children presented Tamara and I with a shirt they had signed, I was sure glad it was long sleeved. I needed something to wipe my eyes on. Thank God for schools like this. We greeted as many as we could and several of us spoke on the radio about our POW/MIAs and why we do this. We had to leave at 1:15 in order to be at the Rainelle School by our usual time of 1:50 PM. I cannot thank Debbie Martin and the Nutall Middle School enough. What a “Welcome Home”. A little farther west of the Nutall Middle School, The Brothers of the Wheel, led by Precious, visited the Divide Elementary School, where they received cards and tokens from the students. They then met us at the middle school. Who says big, tough bikers don’t have a heart?

At 1:50 we arrived in Rainelle and were greeted by many friends from the “Run for the Wall” who had arrived earlier. It was good to see Dragon and so many old friends. We went into the Rainelle School football field and were greeted by the school children there. Run for the Wall has helped the school so much. We left there and went to our camp sights or our hotels. After cleaning up, we went to the Rainelle Moose Lodge. The Moose has been feeding us on Thursday night and Friday morning for many years. These are some great people. We greeted everyone and ate some wonderful food that the Moose Ladies Auxiliary had prepared. They had some cakes for desert. One was decorated like an American flag, one had the Task Force Omega logo, one was a beautiful bike cake, and that was our wedding cake. It was a two-tier cake and on the top was a bride riding a very nice motorcycle and beside her there was another motorcycle that a man was pushing. Yes, they have seen me being pushed on the old Panhead Harley a few times over the years. The Moose gave us cake knives for a present and later on brought out champagne so that everyone could toast us. We will never forget these people and their kindness. Later on, the Rev. John Steer entertained us. After John and Donna retired to their room, Vearl Penning entertained us.

Friday, May 26, the Rainelle VFW provided breakfast. They served us some delicious food and we are very thankful. At 9:00 AM we spoke to school children and staff about the POW/MIA issue. These children were smart. They knew that this event was not about motorcycles, leathers, or TFO. They asked some great questions. Some of these children had talked to us before about the POW/MIA issue. Some asked questions about the Moving Wall, which was in one of the most beautiful settings in Rainelle. The Wall, which came from Combat Veterans Limited (John Devitt), was set up in a valley with the hills and trees of WV in the background. It was an awesome sight to behold. We sure hope it will be back. Over the weekend, the Moving Wall was guarded by many people, including members of Task Force Omega districts 3 and 5, members of the VFW and local individuals. Despite occasional rain showers and thunderstorms, these individuals considered guarding the Wall an honor and a privilege. Those that were not talking to the school children were invited to ride on a Memorial Ride through some of the most beautiful country anywhere. Brothers of the Wheel led them. This club numbers in the hundreds in the U.S. and Canada. They are well directed by the President, Precious, who had brought in some of his members and sat up their large tent for LZ Rainelle to use for the weekend. The town of Rainelle provided a box supper for everyone Friday evening. After the food and fellowship there, several of us traveled to the Nursing Home in Rainelle to visit with the residents. It was a very rewarding experience for us and we hope they enjoyed it half as much as we did. While there, we found out one of the gentlemen was a Korean ex-POW. This has got to be one of the nicest nursing homes in the county, all the residents are treated with love and respect by the employees there.

There was a candle light ceremony at the Wall at 8:00PM. It was a huge crowd and we about ran out of candles. Tamara did a great job on this. Special “thank you” to Dona Schicker, Vearl Pennington, JW Puckett and everyone that helped make this candle light ceremony one we will not forget soon. During the memorial service, black balloons were released for the 22 WV POW/MIAs. It was a very emotional event for everyone.

Saturday, May 27th we ate breakfast at the Moose Lodge. Thank you Moose for treating us so kindly. At 10:00AM, we were ready for the parade through town. The Fire Dept. led the motorcycles first. We left a few minutes before everyone else. This way, the bikes would not get hot and we could park and watch and cheer for everyone in the parade. The town was filled with people waving and cheering us. We stopped in front of their Veterans Memorial. Everyone shut off the bikes and walked to the front of the memorial. After a prayer by Jeff “Mario” Smith and the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Gary Whitt, Bopsters President, Billy Adams and I placed a wreath. We saluted and returned to our bikes. We fired up the bikes to roars of applause from people there. We parked and watched the parade. It was great to see so many people there. About 70 of our Cambodian friends from the Unified Khom International Foundation were even in the parade. People had traveled from all across America and Canada for this patriotic event. At 1:00 PM we had our ceremony. After state and local dignitaries spoke, our MC Col. Ted Bitner introduced Joe Douglass, author of “Betrayed”. Joe spoke about American POWs going through Czechoslovakia to Russia during the Korean and Vietnam wars. They were going to be used as research animals. Joe Douglass sure enlightened everyone on why we do the Ride for Freedom. After he spoke, others spoke on issues involving our Veterans.

Sunday, May 28th at 9:00 AM, Rev John Steer led us in a Community Worship service. Our Cambodian friends from CHENLA, the Great Cambodian Alliance had arrived earlier and were with us. It was great to see such a crowd there for the services. Rev. Steer spoke about our POW/MIAs and what God and Jesus means to us. After the service, we left to travel to Kentucky at 11:00. On the way we had a blown out tire, young squirrels and groundhogs playing in the road, deer, and dangerous drivers to deal with. Everyone made it home safely. We were honored to have friends from the Christian Motorcycle Association set up across from the event center all weekend. They provided first-aid, cold water, bike blessings, kind words, smiles and prayers for all who stopped to see them. They were a blessing to many people, especially those who needed comfort after visiting the Wall.

What did we really do to help account for our POW/MIAs? After all, this is what the “Ride for Freedom” is about.
1- We had many people sign and also take copies so that others could sign the petition asking that U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee have hearings on POW/MIAs.

2- Joe Douglass, author of “Betrayed” spoke about live American POW/MIAs being abandoned. After he spoke, he sold all of the copies of “Betrayed” that he had brought to LZ Rainelle.

3- Jeff “Mario” Smith had a viewing of Bill Dumas’ film “Captured, Presumed Dead”. Almost all of the copies of the DVD were sold.

4- We had information about the FOIA lawsuit that Roger Hall has filed to have the POW/MIA documents declassified.

It was a wonderful event about our POW/MIAs and our Veterans. Thank you to everyone that made this possible. Below is just one of the many emails I have received about our Ride for Freedom. Remember that if you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything. Stand up for the USA and our Veterans and our POW/MIAs.

----- Original Message -----
From: Paul Scoles
To: greasy@kywirelesscollc.com

Sent: Thursday, June 01, 2006 10:14 PM
Subject: lz rainelle
Hello:
Just wanted to drop you a line to let you know how much the weekend in Rainelle, WV meant to me and my wife. We where there as guests of the Christian Motorcycle Association of North Carolina. My wife and I are both Veterans of the the USN Neither one of us where in any of the wars, and truthfully I was unaware of how the government is treating the situation of our fellow American soldiers. I personally want to thank you for opening my eyes and heart to this.
I want to do all I can to try and open the eyes for many more if I am able. Please let me know what I can do to help you and Task Force Omega to make other people stand up for soldiers past and present. If there is anything I can do to help in your crusade please let me know.
We have already made arrangements for next year and already have more people to attend and have already reserved our camping facilities. Once again thank you for one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. God Bless and keep up all that you do.
Thank You
Samuel P. Scoles
Address deleted by Greasy
Leasburg, NC 27291

Danny "Greasy" Belcher, Executive Director
Task Force Omega of KY Inc.
Vietnam Infantry Sgt. 68-69
"D" Troop 7th Sqdn. 1st Air Cav

 
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