Local American Legion Post members and staff from the National Motorcycle Museum were on hand Aug. 3 to greet some special visitors from California.
Four riders participating in The Epic Ride 2019 for Dignity and Remembrance stopped by the museum as part of their 13,000-mile trek across the United States. Three members of the American Legion Riders, Chapter 31 from Post 31 in Salinas, Calif., Hy “Crash” Libby, Rick “Phin” Phinney and Rick “Shameless” De Arana were joined by fellow veteran “Go-Go” Gomez.
The ride came through Anamosa and stopped at the museum back in 2017 as well, with that ride raising $45,000.
The group is raising money for the California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery in California. The cemetery is located near Fort Ord, which saw more than 1.5 million service men and women pass through it during its time of operation. The cemetery finally opened in October of 2016 but can only take cremated remains.
They are still raising money to allow veterans to be buried there. The ride is a collaboration with the local post riders’ group and the Central Coast Veterans Cemetery Foundation, which gets matching funds from the state as well as grant funding to try to make the cemetery a reality.
Though Gomez is not a member of their local chapter, he joined the ride back in 2017, the last time it came through Anamosa, for a portion and is in it for the long-haul this time around after moving from New Mexico to take up residence in Riverside, Calif.
In addition to raising awareness and funds for the cemetery ride, the group also has been stopping to visit gold star families, or families that had lost a loved one in military service, along the way, through a partnership with another non-profit, the KIA Honor Flag Organization. Upon their arrival in Anamosa, it was estimated they’d met with around 20 gold star families. The group would be ending their trip in Washington, D.C., by visiting a gold star mother who runs a bed-and-breakfast as a retreat for gold star families.
Through KIA Honor Flag, posts can be designated “ghost posts” to help honor gold star families, and information on that process can be found at kiahonorflag.org.
By the time the riders made it to Anamosa, they were in the final leg of their cross-country trip. The ride began back on July 8 and will come to an end Aug. 13. To learn more about the ride and their mission, head to epicride.org.