Fun Run: Local motorcyclists literally go the distance in annual ride honoring Vietnam vets
BY PATTI SELLS | News-Telegram Feature Writer
Apr. 29, 2007 - Sulphur Springs motorcycle enthusiasts Jim May and Floyd Moss participated in the 5th Annual Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway motorcycle run held March 11-14 on U.S. Highway 83.
May, a Vietnam veteran, and Moss, a patriotic supporter, rode the entire 900-plus miles from the Texas-Oklahoma state line north of Perryton to the Veteran's International Bridge in Brownsville with their wives, Sherry and Wilma, following in a support vehicle.
According to May and Moss, 73 riders and five support vehicles set out on the four-day event, with as many as 135 riding on one stretch. Participants consisted of Vietnam veterans, Patriot Guard Riders and many members of the Christian Motorcycle Association.
"All were patriots with a desire to honor the memory of those who lost their lives in Vietnam — the POW's the MIA's," said May, who explained the motto for the event has become "40 Years Forgotten, 4 Days To Honor."
The event also honors and supports the surviving Vietnam veterans who were not treated with the honor and respect due them upon their return from service, according to Moss.
All along the route, cities and business honored and entertained riders with various ceremonies, receptions and banquets.
U.S. Highway 83 was officially designated the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway in 1995. The first annual "Welcome Home Run," as the event has come to be called, was made in 2003 after Brent Jackson of Wolfforth, en route on his motorcycle to the Hill Country between Paint Rock and Eden, came across a sign telling the story of the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway.
"It's about time Texas did something to honor these guys," Jackson thought to himself.
Jackson had grown up during the Vietnam era and recalled the terrible treatment of soldiers returning home from 'Nam.
During his road trip he came up with the idea of riding his bike from the northernmost point of U.S. 83 in Texas to the southernmost point in Brownsville. Jackson worked as a computer lab manager for a school district in the Lubbock area, so spring break was the most logical time for him to make the trip.
But after more research, he learned that the last of the U.S. soldiers came home from Vietnam during the month of March, making it all the more appropriate.
Having to deal with uncooperative weather that March often brings to the Panhandle area gives the event a sense of sacrifice and makes the run more meaningful, according to veterans.
Jackson said he never envisioned the event would grow to this size or magnitude.
When Jackson arrived in Perryton that first year, he was met by four other riders who had gotten word of the pilgrimage.
In 2004, 27 riders joined in, and by 2005, 68 riders set out on the adventure. By the end of the trip their number had grown to 88 riders, and in 2006, 109 participants had registered for the event.
Riders gathered this year on Sunday March 11, at the Ochiltree County Courthouse in Perryton. where they took part in a patriotic ceremony.
Monday, March 12, riders were treated to a pancake breakfast by one of the local churches before the took off. Bikers where provided with meals and refreshments and given special tributes.