Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Road Trip to D.C. Serves as Bikers' Healing Mission ; Vietnam Vets Receive Welcome, Thanks on Yearly Ride

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Road Trip to D.C. Serves as Bikers' Healing Mission ; Vietnam Vets Receive Welcome, Thanks on Yearly Ride

Article excerpt

About 300 riders with Run for the Wall who rode through Topeka on Monday morning on their way to Washington, D.C., are on a healing mission.

The roughly 2,500-mile, 10-day ride begins in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., near Los Angeles. Riders take three separate routes before joining back up May 23 in Arlington, Va., to complete the journey to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and participate in other Memorial Day weekend events. This is the 26th year for the ride.

Those who rode through Kansas stopped to refuel at the service station on Interstate 70 east of Topeka.

"It's basically to remember the missing, a little bit of an honor for the Killed in Action, and also kind of a thank-you for us Vietnam veterans, because we never really got a good coming-home," said Ron Bobele, part of the advance fueling crew on the "central route" through Kansas.

Bobele, of Orlando, Fla., was a corpsman in the U.S. Marines, so his road name is "Doc." He said there is a strong bonding of Vietnam veterans participating in the ride. And with the welcome riders receive in towns across the country, those veterans enjoy the gratitude expressed for their service.

"Being a Vietnam veteran, we didn't come back to parades or anything," Bobele said. "And it's kind of fun to come through town and somebody say 'thank you for your service.' "

Others riders are active duty military, retired military, Gold Star families or people who simply want to show their support, he said.

Paul Swoyer, a member-at-large on ABATE's state board, was at the service station to help riders refuel. He said many veterans' groups, including VFW and American Legion posts, work together to pool funds to help pay for fuel and toll fees for the riders. The Kansas Turnpike Association donated $500 worth of fuel, and much of the remaining costs were paid by ABATE District 4, which contains Shawnee, Jackson, Osage and Nemaha counties. The aim of ABATE, according to ABATE of Kansas' website, is "to foster, promote and encourage safe motorcycling in the state of Kansas and elsewhere. …

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