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Monday, March 26, 2007

WOW, What a Ride!!!

Welcome Home 961st Engineers and Company B Marines

Saturday started at 0500 for me after 4 hours of sleep… that’s another story, maybe tomorrow.

With one eye on the weather radar channel, I packed leather and dressed in rain gear. The sun doesn’t coming up around here till about 0745, so it remains cool for quite a while. ‘Pack a t-shirt, a sweat shirt (might be cold again on the way home), no room for dry jeans… Just don’t get wet’ I was thinking. I left the house about 0530 and met up with Infidel at our first meeting place, McBP. A quick bite to eat and we headed off to meet the other Indy area riders just south of the outer belt. We had wet roads for this first leg, read “lots of road spray”, thankfully no real rain.

Friendships, I believe, are built through common bonds and sharing emotional experiences. These people are my friends. When you haven’t seen some of them in weeks, sometimes months, the reunions are heartfelt. We hug, we laugh, we catch up, it’s like they we're never really gone. They have been missed, but never stray far form my thoughts.

We met up with the other Indy area riders and hit the road again at 0700. About 45 minutes later we are at Camp Atterbury. The busses are scheduled to leave at 0800, we got there before the busses… the busses arrived at about 0815. What’s that saying… “hurry up and wait”

We hit the road at about 0900. 16 bikes and 10 of those had 3x5 American flags flying. The motorcycles led the buses and our cagers, also flying 3x5 flags, followed the buses. As we turn the corner heading up the on ramp, we are all watching in our mirrors to make sure the busses made the bend through traffic. They stopped… we slowed… they sat there… and they sat there… “WTH??” We stopped. (Let me remind you from above “…turn the corner heading up the on ramp…”). Yes, we were getting on the interstate and stopped ON the on ramp. (Not the best place to stop on a motor cycle – right?) One Hero runs the 200-300 yards to our rear bike and tells him that they are missing some ‘paper work’ and that a car is running it over to them now, we’ll have to wait. We moved over and sat there. The wait wasn’t too bad, only about 15 minutes, then off we went.

The ride north was uneventful save a few hundred honks and thumbs up from by-passers. When we got to the Indianapolis area, the Indiana State police were waiting for us and escorted us through the city and out the other side about 20 miles. I believe there was 3 of them, one did not allow anyone to pass us and the other 2 rode ahead and stopped any one from entering the highway till we had passed. That was the coolest!! Riding through the city with out one car cutting into or through our line was the safest ride through Indy I have ever had!!

Our RCs (Sleepy Rider and Lobo) had made arrangements with the CO and bus drivers to let us re-fuel in Lafayette. When we stopped the heroes, of course, had to get off the buses and stretch, so we got to meet and talk with some of them.

After gassing up and changing from rain gear to leathers, we hit the road again. About 150 miles later we stopped for lunch in Merrillville, IN, and again got to meet and eat with these ladies and gentlemen. One guy from the local area met us there and led the bussed through Chicago.

Some of our original group had to head home and 6 of us took off east towards South Bend heading for Hoosier HD on the east side. Of course we missed the Hoosier HD group and had to ride over to the airport back west of S. Bend.

The local area turn out was fantastic!!! There was 85 bikes and about 20 cages. There were 40-50 fire trucks and another 20+ police cars. They were form all over N. Indiana and S. Michigan. Once Company B loaded onto the busses we (the bikes, fire trucks and police cars) escorted the 5 buses the 10 miles to the Marine Reserve Center. All along the parade route people were standing outside their houses, waving, clapping and flying flags. Many, many signs read “Thank You Company B”. At the Reserve Center their families were waiting, more signs waving, banners flapping, all surrounded by American Flags!!!

As they disembarked the busses they were swarmed by family, hugged by friends and welcomed home by other vets and the PGR. If there was a dry eye there, I didn’t see it.

As we left, some of the families noticed and started clapping… As I teared up again, I couldn’t help but think, “All we did was ride. Don’t clap for us, you are the ones that let your sons/daughters fight, you are the ones that fought… THANK YOU!! IT WAS OUR HONOR!!!”

We left S. Bend with another 150 miles and about 3 hours to get home. Darkness came and fog, thick enough to cause drips on your goggles. As I pulled into my driveway my odometer turned something over 500 miles. I was beat and my ass hurt. But, my heart was grinning and images of smiling young men and women in their dusty desert cameo would not leave my head. Some where, some how, I fell asleep hoping I would remember everything. Knowing, I WILL NOT FORGET!!!

Pictures
From;
Indiana
Illinois
Wisconsin
Co. B Returns

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