Biker Veterans Honor Their Own
A group of veteran bikers is making certain are veterans and their sacrifices are remembered through an ongoing effort to show these dedicated men and women the appreciation they deserve. Members of the Vietnam Vets/Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club's Chapter X, which spans much of Missouri down to Wynne, Ark., visited with retired Army veterans Don Parmenter, Arlie Hendrix and Glen Wheeler Sunday at Rector Nursing and Rehab. A fourth veteran at the site, Mary Barrows, is currently in the hospital and was unable to attend. The bikers presented Parmenter, Hendrix and Wheeler with embroidered blankets featuring each veteran's name and branch of service. The ceremony also included certificates of appreciation signed by Gov. Mike Beebe, thanking each for their commitment to their state, country and the residents therein. Barrows' blanket and certificate will be waiting for her upon her return, with the group wishing her a full recovery.
Sunday's presentations were the latest by the group of bikers, who have visited similar facilities throughout Arkansas and Missouri to show their appreciation to fellow veterans. The group maintains a level of anonymity by only using their "road names" during the presentations, instead placing the focus on the men and women they're visiting. Bikers Don, T-Bear, K9 and Half-Breed enjoy the freedom of riding bikes along the winding highways and roads, but their true passion comes from visiting with fellow veterans.
"This is all about the vets we're meeting with today and letting them know we appreciate them and the sacrifices they've made," chapter president Don said. "As we get older, it's easier to get lost in the shuffle. We do this to let these vets know that they're still important to us and that we haven't forgotten their contributions."
In addition to honoring veterans like Barrows, Parmenter, Wheeler and Hendrix, the organization has also brought its membership together, providing a valuable experience for those involved.
"Many of us needed that camaraderie," chapter vice-president T-Bear said. "It's like one big family now, made up of Vietname vets, who started this, and legacy vets, like myself, who came later after serving in Afghan, Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom and so on. The two groups came together and are one big family now."
While many Vietnam veterans faced less-than-respectful crowds upon their return, the response the bikers receive from the veterans they visit at facilities like Rector Nursing and Rehab are warm, respectful and appreciative. These responses are therapeutic for all involved, as a bond shared between soldiers is unlike any other.
"The sacrifices of our brothers and sisters in the military are something we will never forget," K9 said. "These blankets and certificates are just a small way for us to let them know they are not forgotten."