Run for the Wall stops in Williams on way to Washington D.C.
WILLIAMS, Ariz. — The annual Run for the Wall motorcycle ride to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. rolled into Williams May 18.
One of the riders this year was Jerry Shields. This was Shields second time riding the 3, 000 mile road trip from Los Angeles, California to Washington D.C.
Shields said he rides for those who can’t, for those who have physical and mental limitations that no longer allow them to make the journey.
Run For The Wall
“I ride for all my friends and family and the Marines who can’t do it anymore. Whether they’re not here — physically or mentally just can’t do it or face it, the day to day challenges. There’s quite a few people that have different physical and mental limitations for the military and that’s for all the wars and for our first responders,” he said. “So we do it for those who can’t.”
From St. George, Utah, Shields served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. This year he drove from St. George to Los Angeles to join other Run for the Wall riders.
“We end up in Washington D.C. in about nine more days,” he said.
Shields said the group makes stops at veteran homes and civic minded organizations and have scheduled lunch and dinner stops every day.
“We don’t just rush our way there. We hit a lot of places and (take part) in civic like things. The public’s been wonderful. They come out and stand on all the overpasses and get out in the freezing cold to help us out. It’s really nice,” he said.
One of the first overnight stops riders make is in Williams where American Legion Post No. 13 welcomes them with a meal and friendly smile.
Terry Kohl, the director of the American Legion Riders for Post 13, said it is especially enjoyable for local legion riders to visit with Run for the Wall riders.
“(Run for the Wall) riders may not all be legion riders but they are motorcyclists and we, as riders of this post, support the post, which put on this dinner,” Kohl said. “From what we’ve been told this is one of the highlights of the entire trip — the meal that we put on here. We have quite a spread and most people when they feed them have hamburgers and hot dogs. We put on a full-blown dinner for them.”
The Run for the Wall began in 1989 when two Vietnam veterans, James Gregory and Bill Evans, rode their bikes across the country talking to local radio stations, newspaper and television stations about the thousands of men and women still unaccounted for from U.S. wars.
According to the Run for the Wall organization, the need for this awareness continues today and the group continues this tradition every May. Public awareness is only part of the Run for the Wall. The ride provides all veterans the opportunity to get their own welcome home and start their healing process.
The Run for the Wall crew has been stopping in Williams for years. Some of the riders have made the ride annually for more than a decade.
The American Legion has been feeding the riders for the same number of years. The Williams Kiwanis Club served breakfast the next day along with the Wild West Junction.
The American Legion Post 13 Legion Riders have 13 riders. Kohl said he has not ridden with Run for the Wall but hopes to one day.
“It’s on my bucket list,” he said. “I’m a Vietnam vet and I need to do it.”
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