More than 1,000 motorcyclists took off from Ontario early Wednesday, May 16, with a mission in mind: Ride to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. in honor of those who cannot.

Over the next ten days, the motorcyclists will head east as part of the 30th annual Run For The Wall, which promotes healing among veterans as well as their friends and family, calls for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action, honors the memory of those killed in action from all wars and supports military personnel all over the world, according to its website.

“I’m riding for Lt. Cmdr. Dennis S. Pike who is still missing in action and unaccounted for,” said Robert “Old School” Reavis, 69, of Sacramento, who is riding for the 11th year.

“I also ride for the 59,249 names on the wall, of which 17 names I can put a face too,” Reavis said. “That is why I ride.”


The group plans to arrive in Washington on May 25, the start of Memorial Day weekend.

Once there, they will lay a “Mission Complete” plaque at the apex of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arlington National Cemetery.

The run was started in 1989 by James Gregory and Bill Evans, two Vietnam Veterans who traveled across the country on their motorcycles to raise awareness for the military men and women still unaccounted for during wars.

“About 120 people or so left the first year, and most of them turned back in Las Vegas because they couldn’t do the whole thing,” said Kirk Olson, director of communications and public relations.

Now in its 30th year, more than 1,000 people were registered to leave Ontario on Wednesday morning.

The Christian Motorcyclists Association provided hundreds of breakfast burritos to the riders, and the motorcyclists’ rights group, Abate of California, provided coffee.

“We have a total of 1,601 people that have pre-registered, so what that really means is they don’t have to come to California or Ontario to join,” Olson said. “Some people join in the middle of the country. We tell people if they can’t do the whole thing or start in California, you can jump in at any of the overnight stops.”

Most of the food and fuel is donated by Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legions, churches and the community, Olson said.

In some states, they will even get a police escort, he said.

“It’s a pretty neat event,” he said.

Riders include veterans, active military and even civilians, Olson said.

“We wholeheartedly welcome anybody that supports our veterans and our current military people that sacrificed for our country, freedoms and liberties or to honor the people who have died defending our country’s freedom and liberty,” Olson said. “That’s what it’s really about, whether it was Vietnam, World War II, Korea, Iraq or Afghanistan…it’s all-encompassing.”

Staff photographer Will Lester contributed to this report.



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