On Tuesday, eleven motorcyclists with Tribute to Fallen Soldiers Northwest gathered to honor one of 50 fallen soldiers along their 3,000-mile route from southern Oregon to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
Now in their eighth year of honoring veterans killed in combat, the group’s 2016 mission is entitled “Honoring the Fallen”.
In addition to making 50 personal stops to honor soldiers’ families along the way, the group is carrying an eternal flame honoring fallen members of the United States Armed Forces.
The cyclists are expected to arrive in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, August 7 for a ceremony including the ringing of the bell, the mentioning of the names of the fallen soldiers, and the extinguishing of the flame.
Executive director Warren Williamson noted that “it was our promise that as we made this journey across the country, we would honor and protect the flame”.
William spoke on behalf of the group, honoring the service of fallen Ottumwa native Marine Lance Corporal Adam F. Wolf.
Wolf was killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2014 shortly after being promoted to Lance Corporal status.
Wolf’s family accepted the “Fallen Soldier Memorial Plaque of Distinguished Service” along with a large portrait of Adam in his service uniform in addition to personal hugs and moments with each of the eleven motorcyclists.
Torch Captain Richard Gunter, who has steadily traveled with the group for the past four years, says the group’s mission is fueled by fund raisers held across the country.
Though it usually takes an entire year for the group to plan its route and decide which stops to make, Gunter says “it’s an awesome thing that we do…it’s very humbling”.
The torch doesn’t sit long, stopping for only an hour or two at each stop. Upon leaving Ottumwa the group heads to Davenport. They’ll stop in Indianapolis, Charleston, WV and Fairfax, VA before ending at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC.