Locals getting ready to Run For The Wall

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 13, 2004

They ride to remember.

Nearly three decades after the Vietnam war ended, the healing still continues.

Hundreds of roaring motorcycles will roll across America next week as the 16th annual Run For The Wall honors Vietnam veterans and reminds the nation that thousands of heroes are still unaccounted for.

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Several locals will join in the annual event that begins in California on Wednesday and ends in Washington D.C. on Memorial Day weekend. Others will join up with the group in Hurricane, W.Va., to finish the trip.

Ironton resident and Vietnam veteran Ted Riedel rode from Grayson, Ky., to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. last year but decided to make the whole journey this time around.

"More than 1,800 men and women are still unaccounted for. The majority are unaccounted from Vietnam," Riedel said. "It is not a party ride. It is a mission. It is a healing ride for people who have never been on it before that really helps to bring a sense of closure."

Set up with central and southern routes across the country, as many as 800 riders will participate in each leg. The riders will stop at veteran hospitals and memorials all across the country. They will pass the Huntington rest stop on I-64 Wednesday, May 26 at approximately 4 p.m.

"Finally, the Vietnam veterans are getting the welcome home that they didn't get then they returned from the war," Riedel said. "It is also to raise interest about the MIAs and POWs."

The event culminates with the Rolling Thunder Parade through Washington on May 30 that ends at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. More than 300,000 riders participate in the parade each year.

"One of the most touching things is to see grown men cry because it is their first visit to the Wall and it gives a sense of closure," Riedel said.

Russell, Ky., resident Vince Bolone, an Army vet and retired Detroit police officer, plans to participate for the third time, but this will be the first time that joins the small percentage of riders who make the entire trip.

For Bolone, the ride is just another way to pay respect and share the special bond with fellow veterans.

"In any military service, a special camaraderie exists that you can't understand until you have experienced it," he said. "You are willing to die for your buddy and your buddy is willing to die for you."