BY LEANN DILBECK –
Retired U.S. Army COL Billy Woods and Retired U.S. Navy CAPT Bob Young will soon be rumbling across the nation’s mid-section riding their Honda Goldwings along with an estimated 400 bikers in the 2013 American Legion Legacy Run. While both will quickly admit how much they enjoy riding, this is much more than a joy ride for these two Vietnam vets. They will be riding with a distinct purpose.
The event, sponsored by USAA, is to raise money to help pay college tuition for young people who lost active-duty military parents on or after September 11, 2001. For Young, it’s also about bringing added awareness to the service of military personnel. Serving in a much different time, Young said he clearly remembers the treatment he, and his fellow soldiers, received when they returned from the war. “My motivation for doing this is because when I came back from Vietnam, there was a very intense feeling against us when we came in. We were spit on at the San Francisco airport…people threw things at us and so forth. It was so bad that the commercial airline flight attendants would not serve us if we were in uniform. So I want to do this as a sort of counter-balance for the guys returning from Afghanistan and Iraq so that they receive support rather than a hard time.”
Both are active members of the American Legion. Young serves as the Commander of the local American Legion Post 18.
The five-day ride will begin on August 18 at the American Legion National Headquarters in Indianapolis, travel through Effingham, Illinois; St. James and Springfield, Missouri; Muskogee, Oklahoma; Pottsboro, Stephenville, Killeen, and Seguin, Texas; and end at League City, Texas, Post 554 on August 22, the site for the American Legion National Convention. Along the journey, scheduled stops are planned in Rolla, Missouri to visit veterans in nursing homes and hospitals.
This is the 8th consecutive year for the event that organizers hope this year raises $1 million to surpass last year’s $724,500 raised for the Legacy Scholarship Fund, an all-time record.
Woods and Young have set a goal to raise $1,500 of which the American Legion Auxiliary has already agreed to donate $250 and with approval, Young hopes the American Legion Post 18 will pay based on miles logged. Those interested in making a donation that ultimately will go to the Legacy Scholarship Fund should clearly mark their check as such and mail to the local American Legion Post 18, PO Box 326, Mena, AR 71953.
The Pulse will chronicle their journey as Woods and Young send photos and updates along the way. Follow their story at www.MyPulseNews.com.