BY LEANN DILBECK –
A top trending story over the last couple of weeks has been about two local Vietnam Veterans who are participating in the American Legion Legacy Run. Click HERE to read original story.
Retired U.S. Army COL Billy Woods and Retired U.S. Navy CAPT Bob Young left out early Friday morning, August 16, and as promised, we are chronicling their adventure.
They traveled a total of 419 miles to Sikeston, Missouri, and their goal of eating at Lambert’s Café.
Their email read: “RON is pilot talk for Remain Overnight. God made days like this just for motorcycle riders. Other than being cold for a couple of hours this morning, the weather was perfect. No rain, no wind, temps stayed cool all day. Not your typical mid-August Arkansas day. A few hours on bikes in northeast Arkansas makes you appreciate our beautiful western Arkansas scenery. The area up here is so flat that a parking lot speed bump is considered a significant topographical feature. On to Indianoplis tomorrow. The adventure continues.”
On Saturday, the two traveled another 335 miles and arrived at Indianapolis by 2:30 pm ET. “Only light rain this morning and cool temps, thank Jesus!”
We will continue to follow their journey on this same page and add the photos as we receive them so be sure to bookmark it and we can all be a part of the Legacy Run vicariously through them!
DAY 1 OF OFFICIAL LEGACY RUN – Received Monday from Bob Young, August 19, 5:49 a.m.
Another beautiful day provided just for motorcyclists. A little heat later in the day as we moved south but a caravan of over 500 motorcycles traveling in close formation generates enough heat – and noise – without the Creator’s help.
A truly moving day. As we progressed through Illinois and Missouri, nearly every interstate overpass had groups cheering us on our route. There was everything from Sunday School classes to veteran’s groups to volunteer fire departments. We saw more waving American flags today than the normal 4th of July or Memorial Day.
It’s too bad the East and Left Coasts can’t see this sincere and spontaneous display of pure patriotism out here in flyover country. It would help them understand why we believe so strongly that it is right and proper to teach our children that they live in the greatest country in the world and they have the duty to ensure that America’s future is secured for their children.
The most memorable image was on a small overpass in southern Illinois. A single man, presumably a veteran, dressed in jungle camouflage and the iconic Viet Nam bush hat, stood at rigid attention leaning on his cane and rendered a formal hand solute as three miles of motorcycles rumbled by in side by side formation. The USPS service should find this gentleman and make a stamp using his image. That picture alone would be worth a thousand apologies.
The day ended with a visit to the St. James Veteran’s Home. The campus is beautifully kept, the veterans are treated like honored guests and everyone couldn’t wait to show off their facilities and veterans. Billy met a WWII veteran who has been in the first wave to storm the beach in Normandy. We met another Navy vet who had served aboard troop transports during the Pacific Island invasions. Although 90+, he was sharper mentally than any of us after a full day in the saddle.
Today it’s off to Muskogee OK with stops at an American Legion post for lunch. So far, the Legacy Run has generated over $120,000 donations and pledges. We have yet to make our pledge but we intend to in Killeen TX after we get a final accounting from our Post Finance Officer. It’s still not too late to donate, just call the Veteran’s Service Office at 394-8147 to make a pledge or drop a check.
Keep us in your prayers. They give crazy people drivers licenses out here.
Received this update from Bob Young on Friday, August 23, 2013 after the pair had been in consecutive non wi-fi zones.
The run from the Missouri Veterans Home to Muskogee was uneventful except for a few patches of thick morning fog. Lunch was provided by American Legion Post 639 in Springfield MO. The most unique thing there was a full conning tower and sail planes of the USS Lapon, a first generation nuclear attack submarine. We were able to convince the Marines in the group that the rest of the submarine was buried beneath the conning tower but, unfortunately, it was closed for tours that day.
Most of the Legacy Run missed the opportunity to visit the Veterans Hospital in Muskogee, OK due to faulty event communications. It’s a beautiful facility perched high up on the highest hill in the area.
The next day, the run left Muskogee and headed to Stephenville TX. We were proud to see Rex and Carol Burns in Atoka, OK where they came to witness the Legacy Run first hand. They made a generous contribution after seeing that we really were participating in the madness. Lunch was provided by the American Legion Post on Lake Texoma. It’s the only Legion Post that we’ve seen that it’s easier to arrive there by boat than automobile. For a motorcycle, especially when there are over 200 of them, the entry is especially challenging.
Stephenville TX really rolled out the red carpet for the Legacy Run riders. Dinner was provided by the Chamber of Commerce and city leaders. It was held in their city park, one of the prettiest and most peaceful city parks we’ve experienced. Their sincere appreciation for the service provided by veterans was evident in everything they did. There was an especially touching moment when the last four remaining World War II vets in the community received a standing ovation from everyone in attendance.
The run from Stephenville to Sequin TX crossed Texas Hill Country. We stopped in Killeen TX to have lunch with the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Hood. These brave soldiers were recovering from a variety of battle injuries en route to a return to military duties or to civilian life. We sat at a table with four soldiers. In total, they had served ten full tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and two partial tours cut short due to battle injuries. A most impressive group of young men and women who seem really happy to get a free barbecue meal in air conditioned spaces rather than the base mess hall. Who can blame them?
At the Fort Hood ceremony, we were proud to make our donation pledge of $1,365 to the Legacy Run for 2013. To top it off, I personally handed a personal check from a special Mena Post #18 donor to the American Legion National Commander to be included in the final total.
That day ended in Sequin TX. During the ceremonies there, a group of donors presented a Harley-Davidson motorcycle configured as a tricycle to a wounded veteran who lost both legs to an Improvised Explosive Device overseas. It was a teary-eyed moment to watch him transfer to the seat of the motorcycle, fold up and stow his wheelchair, and drive off with the biggest grin of thanks possible. As long as we produce brave young men and women like that who demonstrate that level of tenacity and spirit, America will do just fine.