Ride Report submitted by: Cliff Otto
Normally I would write my own ride report!
Today I am posting a letter from a new rider which I feel describes US and what WE do!



8/29/10 – The day I was among great men and women

Ok, so many people may not care about this, but 8/29 was a day that will be etched in my mind and my heart.  

A friend of mine attended a “Keep Alive 45” event to remember those who fought in and died in World War II.  I wanted to go but because of family events was unable to.

He told me of the event and of the group that held it.  They are known as the “Warrior Watch Riders”.  They are similar to the “Patriot Guard” in escorting our fallen soldiers but they also get groups of people together to welcome home soldiers returning from overseas.  When he told me of this, I signed up to be a member of the group that day.

I’m just a ordinary citizen.  I’ve never belonged to any group like this nor have I ever done anything like this.  But I received an email from the group informing me of 2 welcome home “missions” that were happening on 8/29.  So I planned on attending, not knowing what it was all about or what was going to happen.

We met at Veterans Acres Park just a short ride from where I live.  As we approached the park, I was soon realizing that I wasn’t just hooking up with a group of motorcycle riders to go say hi to a returning soldier.  There were about 30-40 bikes, large 3×5 – 4×6 flags of all sorts attached to well over 1/2 the bikes there.  My first thought while approaching the park was, “WOW…this is really going to be something.”

We (my wife and I along with my friend who attend the previous event) pulled into the lot and parked.  I introduced myself to a couple of people as we were walking into the group.

As the leader of the group gathered us together for a pre-ride meeting, he asked if there were any new members to the WWR.  I raised my hand and everyone there broke out in loud and enthusiastic applause.  Wow.  I was really speechless and could feel my heart leap up into my throat.  He then went on to list the amount of service and achievements that the returning soldier had accomplished.  To which when he completed that, the crowd erupted in loud applause.

After the meeting, he (Otto – a Veteran of the Vietnam Era with the US Marines) approached me and presented me with a collection of beads on a leather strip.  The significance of the beads were explained to me.

On one end there are 4 blue beads.  They represent those currently serving in the military.  On the other end are 4 gold beads representing those family members who have had those that have died defending our country and giving the ultimate sacrifice.  In the middle were 2 each, red, white and blue beads representing the United States of America and the flag and in-between were a series of black beads representing the POWs, MIAs, and Veterans never to be forgotten.

I will always keep this representation of our military.  I feel very honored to be presented with this and will cherish it forever.

It was at that time I felt like I was surrounded my men and women of honor, integrity and with a sense of duty to their country.  In all actuality, I felt small.  I felt out of place.  But more and more people (the vast majority of them current or past members of the military who had served in one of our theaters of conflict) came up to me, shook my hand and thanked me for being there.  To me, it was the opposite.  If it weren’t for their service, their sacrifice, people like me wouldn’t be able to speak out like I do.  I turned around and shook their hand to thank them for what they do.  I was told time and time again from different Veterans that without support from people like me, their job would be much more difficult.

I was truly humbled to be there.

As we prepared to leave, fire trucks, ambulances, police cars showed up to give us a full siren escort to the young mans home. 

By the way…this young man had no idea we were coming.  It was set up with the WWR and his mother.

So we left the park for a short 2-3 mile ride to the soldier’s home.  Police and fire and medic vehicles were all blaring their sirens.  The motorcycle riders were all honking their horns, revving their engines and in general, making a TON of noise during the entire ride and it only got louder the closer we got to the young man’s home.  Cars traveling in the opposite direction pulled over.  Some honking their horns, most waving and some cars all you saw were a lot of hands and arms reaching out the windows and sunroofs giving us thumbs up signs and peace signs.  To witness that…to be a part of that is something I can’t put into words.  Needless to say, my eyes began to well up with emotion.

We all got off our bikes, out of the cars and assembled in the family’s front yard and when the returning soldier came out of his house everyone erupted into a huge round of applause, all of us yelling as loud as we could, “WELCOME HOME!!!”

As you could easily see, this young man (Andrew) was overwhelmed with emotion, as was I.  (My eyes well up now just describing it!!)

We all got in line and every one of us (there were better than 50 people) shook his hand, gave him a hug and welcomed him home.  It was truly a very special experience.  During this time, the crowd continually broke out in applause…yelling…welcoming….thanking.  My heart pounded every time that happened.

Otto then took the young man and presented him with the same beads he gave me and explaining the significance.  Pictures were taken of the group and people were talking to the family and to Andrew.

When people were breaking up and getting ready to leave, Otto approached me and asked what I thought of the event.  I told him that it was perhaps the coolest thing I had ever done and that my emotions had at times overtook me.

His response?  “Why do you think we all wear dark glasses!!”

He then asked if I was going to go to the 2nd welcome home mission later in the day to which I said, “Absolutely”.