Oregon motorcyclists join ‘Run for the Wall’ to Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Special to The Oregonian
by Berenice Tynan
SANDY — Two members of Sandy VFW Post 4273 are riding across the country this week to pay tribute to their fallen and missing comrades in arms.
Bert Key, 66, making his eighth trip, and Terry Boyer, 65, making his first, are part of the 24th annual “Run for the Wall” motorbike cavalcade heading to Washington, D.C., and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Vietnam veterans James Gregory and Bill Evans organized the first trip in 1989 to promote healing among veterans; honor those killed in action, as well as prisoners of war and missing in action; and support military personnel.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, often called “The Wall,” consists of a series of black granite walls inscribed with the names of more than 58,000 Vietnam veterans who lost their lives or went missing during the conflict.
Most West Coast riders began the ride Wednesday at Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., then had the option of taking the “central route” or “southern route” to the nation’s capital. The central route headed to Colorado, then travels through the heartland to Ohio before aiming south to Virginia, the designated assembly for both groups. The southern route winds through Arizona, Texas and Alabama, where it will turn north toward Virginia.
Boyer, who is making his first Run for the Wall, chose the central route, but with a slight diversion. “I’m going to travel north out of Oregon and make a few stops along the way in Idaho, Nebraska, Montana and other places to pick up some friends,” he said, “and then we’ll join up with the central route along the way.”
Key, who is making the trip for the eighth year, opted for the southern route, while his wife follows in the family car. As the two routes travel to D.C., more vets will join the motorbike trekkers.
“As we travel along both routes, our numbers should grow,” Boyer said, “We should be close to 500 riders when we finally reach Virginia, the day before we ride into the capital and the Vietnam memorial.”
Riders are provided with travel data that include locations of campsites and motels along the way, riding protocols and other pertinent information as they pass through cities and states.
Many of the towns they pass through greet the riders with parades, picnics, visits to local war memorials and veterans hospitals and other ceremonies of appreciation for the visiting veterans.
“The warmth of the reception we receive from the people in these places makes the ride even more special,” Key said.
The ride concludes with a police escort from the rendezvous point in Virginia into the capital on Sunday. Ride organizers say more than 350,000 motorcycles participate in the Rolling Thunder rally, which concludes with ceremonies at The Wall.
Both Key and Boyer are longtime residents of Sandy. Key served as a Marine in the Vietnam War. He later taught social studies at Sandy High School for more than 20 years before retiring. His wife, Jackie, also is retired from Sandy High.
Boyer, who retired from the building trades, served in the Navy in Vietnam, where he did four tours.
Key and Boyer plan to return to Sandy separately at the conclusion of the ride, each with a few side trips along the way.