August 8, 2008

VFW motorcycle ride honors troops, benefits Virginia Guard families

By Sgt. Jesse Houk
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

Hal Roesch, Virginia VFW commander, places a wreath at the Virginia War Memorial Aug. 2, marking the commencement of the memorial ride to Bedford. (Photo by Capt. Dayna Rowden, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

 

BEDFORD, Va. — Bikers from around the Commonwealth traveled from Richmond to Bedford Aug. 2 to honor servicemembers and raise money for the Virginia National Guard's Youth Camps. The group was mostly comprised of Veterans of Foreign Wars members, but the ride was open to anyone who wanted to participate.

The mission began with a wreath ceremony at the War Memorial in Richmond earlier that day and concluded with a wreath ceremony at the D-Day Memorial.  But the true mission and the central focus of the ride was to raise money for the Virginia National Guard’s Family Program Youth Camps that would benefit the children of Virginia Guard Soldiers and Airmen.

Maj. J. D. Moore salutes a wreath laid by members of the VFW at the Virginia War Memorial Aug. 2. (Photo by Capt. Dayna Rowden, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

“Anytime you can do something for the dependants back home, the men and women serving appreciate it,” said Harold Roesch II, Virginia VFW commander. “We may not hear the ‘thank you’s,’ but we know they’re there.” 

Roesch, a veteran of Desert Storm and retired Air Force master sergeant, is fully aware of the importance of strong family programs during times of deployment.

“We have all been there,” said Roesch. “We have all been deployed and in combat areas. We know what it’s like to have kids at home; husbands and wives at home.  Anything that we can do to help them out is in our blood.” 

According to Roesch, the concept for the ride started when Maj. J.D. Moore, chaplain in the Virginia Guard and a VFW member, approached him about a fundraising idea that would benefit the children of Guard families.

“About nine months ago the VFW wanted to get more involved with the National Guard and support them,” said Moore. “So they talked about promoting it through a motorcycle ride.”

Donations were accepted and each biker paid a fee of $50 to participate in the ride.  

The VFW hoped to see future fund-raiser event and other opportunities working with the Guard become a reality. 

Bikes line up at the Virginia War Memorial, ready fro the drive to the D-Day Memorial in Bedford. More than 30 motorcycles joined the ride to raise money for the Virginia Guard's Youth Camps. (Photo by Capt. Dayna Rowden, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

 

 

“This may become an annual event,” said Roesch. “We love helping the Guard and active duty. That’s why we are here; to help out active duty, guard and reserve.”

The impact of ride can’t be calculated. It is likely that the children will see and experience the impact of the donations. It is also possible that a special bond between those in the Guard and the VFW will be created.

“It would be great if this created a stronger interest among Guard members,” said Roesch. “It would be like icing on the cake if our efforts here lead to more people joining the VFW, but we aren’t out here actively recruiting anybody. It’s a great organization.  It’s the greatest combat veteran’s organization in the world.”

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