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Run for the Wall veterans ride through Hurricane on way to D.C.

By John Gibb

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - For many Vietnam veterans, traveling across country via motorcycle is something they chose to do. For Aemod Tansey, it was a calling.

After serving in the Australian military during the Vietnam War in 1970, Tansey continued his service and eventually was stationed in Los Angeles. Today, he participates in the Run for the Wall, a group of veterans that travel on motorcycles from Rancho Cucamongo, Calif. to Washington, D.C. The final destination is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  

"Australians were allies with the U.S. during the Vietnam War and this is a way for me to honor and commemorate the veterans that served in the war and those who paid the ultimate price," Tansey said. "It will be so rewarding for all these veterans to see the Vietnam Memorial in D.C."

Duane Maxey, West Virginia's coordinator for the run, said two groups left California on May 15 and are expected to arrive in the nation's capital on Saturday. The central group made several stops along the way, which included Hurricane on Wednesday. Nearly 600 veterans participated.

Maxey participated himself. He has done so for 10 years.

"We have traveled to all kinds of cities," Maxey said. "We have been fortunate that the weather has been decent and we missed major natural disasters, such as the tornado in Moore, Okla."

Maxey said the group has traveled to Gallop, N.M. and was welcomed with a Native American warrior dance. In addition, they saw the Angel Fire Veterans Memorial in New Mexico and then traveled on to Wentzville, Mo. to see the first veteran's memorial in the U.S., which was dedicated in 1967.

Dave Boland is from Wentzville and also participated in the run. He said his mother was on the committee responsible for getting the memorial established there. Boland travels with the group because he likes the camaraderie.

"I enjoy listening to others' stories and I love the adventure," Boland said.

The purpose of the run, according to the website, is to promote healing among veterans and their families, to call for an accounting of all prisoners of war and those missing in action, to honor the memory of those killed in action from all wars and to support military personnel all over the world.

The run began in 1989 by James Gregory and Bill Evans. Once in D.C., the veterans will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington Cemetery and then participate in a ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Maxey said it's important to support the veterans and thank them for their service.

"We do what we do and have the freedoms that we have because of the veterans that fought for those freedoms," Maxey said. "This is a time for this community to show gratitude to those that served."

Maxey said most of the veterans served in Vietnam, but that a few served in Kuwait, Operation Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom.

A UH-1 Huey helicopter escorted the veterans to a ceremony at Valley Park in Hurricane. The ceremony featured bagpipes, a speech from Hurricane Mayor Scott Edwards and a presentation of the colors. An Italian dinner for all the veterans followed.

Contact writer John C. Gibb at john.gibb@dailymail.com or 304-348-4872.

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