Ride Report posted for Spike and Mama J.

My (Spike) part in this event was to escort the Huey Helicopter to the fairgrounds early in the a.m. We staged at Starbucks across from Buchannan Airport to have our morning coffee at 6 am. We left for the airport with 23 bikes in tow and the POW/MIA Corvette. This day we had a dual mission. The Vietnam event and a funeral for an E-9 Master Chief – USN. The plan was at the turn-off for the fairgrounds, approximately 8 bikes kept going straight to support the funeral, with the rest headed for the fairgrounds with the Huey. We were to stage at gate 12 for the second part of this mission. I took the helo into the fairgrounds and helped get it staged. Then went back to gate 12 to meet up with the riders and the local Corvette Club. We had 28 bikes by this time, 13 Corvettes and one POW/MIA Corvette. We headed up to the Livermore VA Hospital to pick-up some of our Vietnam Vets to attend the Welcome Home event. We got everything staged at the hospital with the POW/MIA ‘Vette at the helm, with half the bikes behind it, two VA buses, the other half of the bikes behind the buses, Mrs. Miranda (Tony’s wife – Tony is a WWII, Korea and Nam Vet and on the bus), and two more bikes. Behind this procession was the Corvette Club. We headed out with our HUGE escort toward the freeway and proceeded to the fairgrounds. Escort went well and everyone arrived together. Thank you to all the riders and groups that participated. And, a special thanks to Jinkys and Cop Mom for attending. Now for Mama J’s part…

After 8 months of planning the event had finally arrived. We routinely Welcome Home our troops from Iraq & Afghanastan and decided that “it’s never too late” so we held the Welcome Home & Thank You to our Vietnam Veterans. Tami Jenkins, a Blue Star Mom and founder of Livermore Military Families and I sought help from many local Veteran Support Organizations to carry this out. We held a fundraiser called “East Bay Guns & Hoses” where the local PD played basketball against FD. The Blue Star Moms sponsored us with their 501(c)3 status and we were off & running. We had a full afternoon of music, guest speakers, honoring a Vietnam Veteran Gold Star Mom (her son was the first one KIA from Pleasanton) and presenting the Vietnam Veterans of Diablo Valley with a placque of appreciation. When the riders rolled up with the busses and Corvettes, we were running about a half an hour late. The entire community of supporters had formed a flag line from the parking lot, through the tunnel and into the venue.

The Livermore – Pleasanton FD set-up a flag arch in the parking lot. The hospital Vets were helped off the bus and those in wheelchairs were assigned two escort people for the duration of the event. Spike called them all to attention & found the highest ranking Officer and NCO to lead the way. Two by two, the Veterans went through the flag line with tears welled up in their eyes. It was such an emotional time for all of us, but especially the Vietnam Veterans. This hometown heroes welcome was 35 years late so the pins we had made for each of them had the Vietnam service ribbon & said “It’s Never Too Late” and “Welcome Home”. A group called “Strumming For Vets” opened with When The Saints Come Marching In as the Veterans entered the Country Plaza area and were seated. This was their first public appearance and they were awesome! The Boy Scouts posted our colors and Taylor Gavello (Combat Medic) led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. General Helix opened with prayer and said a few words. There were a number of speakers and I just can’t name them all here as it would take too much writing. We hope to have a slideshow of pictures of our event posted shortly on Snapshot’s Phanfare. After the ceremony, we served a BBQ lunch to everyone. There was a Memory Lane for those that wanted to bring their war memorabilia to share. One woman brought a sheet for all of the Veterans to sign. A Veteran and Artist donated a collage with a poem in the center to us, and on & on. Feedback from the event was “thank you, thank you, thank you”. The Veterans and their guests, along with all of us that worked so hard to make this happen were thrilled. At the end of the day, the WWR crew divided up into two groups – one that led the buses back to the VA Hospital and the other that escorted the Huey Helicopter back to the airport in Concord. While this may have been long overdue, it was certainly a very positive and much-deserved Welcome Home. The state of California has made March 30th, 2010 the first annual Vietnam Veterans Day and it’s about time the VNV get the recognition they deserved so long ago.  It’s never too late & Welcome Home!