Day 7 – May 25, 2010
Day 7 of NVAR and Ratbike Milo Day 7 of NVAR and Ratbike Milo Day 7 of NVAR and Ratbike Milo Day 7 of NVAR and Ratbike Milo Day 7 of NVAR and Ratbike Milo

Breakfast was provided by the American Legion Post 26, the same place we had dinner last night.  We now have about 70 bikes in our group.  We had a two car police escort to the border.  We got on the road at 8:00 and went 112 miles to Marseilles, Illinois to their beautiful place by the river.  At the Illinois border, we were escorted by their Highway Patrol.  The town has a Middle-East Conflict Wall that has 11 large black granite stone panels with all the names of the KIA service people who have died since the Middle East Wars have had our involvement.  When I was there the first time in 2006, there were not as many large panels and were about 3,500 names etched into history.  Now there are 10 panels completely full and the 11th is already started.  Don, who is one of the people putting together all the names, says there are about 6,500 names on it now with about 500 more that have not been put on it yet.  I asked him if he could get a picture of it, and a rubbing of David Mudge's name who was from Yoncalla, Oregon. David died at the end of last year overseas, while serving onboard ship, in an electrical accident.  His parents, Larry and Judy, might really like  to know that their son's memory and will be forever etched into history for his ultimate sacrifice.  Don told me he would let me know when the time for the new KIA names will be added.  I saw Jim Houvious, Chief of Police, again as usual.  Jim is a super nice guy.  Jim gave me his brass name badge back in 2006 on my first ride to the Wall.  It is still on the front of my bike. I saw a lot of other friends there as well.  The Canaryville riders from Chicago were doing a great job of road blocking for us, as they always have.  Thanks guys!

Our guys laid a wreath at the main part of the memorial and a few people talked and Steve gave out a lot of certificates of appreciation to people and some groups.  

The next stop was to Morris for gas and lunch, which were steaks provided by the Chicago HOG chapter.  Thanks guys and gals!  The Schneider Freedom Truck joined us there for the rest of the trip to DC. Tony is the driver this year as Vince, last year’s driver is retired.  Tony seems like a very cool, open, people person, which you have to be to be in the PR position for Schneider Trucking Company.

Back on the road with a LOT of construction and very slow going for a few miles.  The cops did what they could, but you can’t make just one lane of traffic go any faster.  We finally broke free of the congestion and were back up to 65 again.  The Illinois Cops stopped at the border and we were then picked up by four Indiana State Motor Cops who did a great job.  They escorted us to Portage where we went into the high school and were treated to the best JROTC Drill Team program yet.  The guys and gals were all very talented and they seemed to love what they were doing.  It was another 93 degree day as we saddled up to do the last 20 miles into Michigan City.

When we got to town, we rode to a staging area where they had a fire truck and a lot of other members of ‘The Wall Gang’ waiting our arrival to get the parade started through town.  The Wall Gang is a super bunch of guy's and gal's who started the group by riding to the wall in D.C., as we are doing now.  For me it seems just like coming home too, because of the friendship bonds that have been established over the past five years, between me and all the good folks of the Wall Gang and this very patriotic town.  We went to the Danny Bruce Memorial in a very peaceful park setting on the waterfront. Danny was a home town boy who died in Vietnam in 1969.  We watched our guys do a wreath laying ceremony and Dana played his bag pipes too.  It was very good to catch up with all the people that I have not seen since last year.  When you spend 10 days straight on the road as a group, and three more in D.C., there are a lot of family like ties that form as you get to know each other.  People come and people go, but the good ones are always glad to see each other again.  We then went to the 'Welcome Home' dinner at St. Josephs Boy's and Girl's Club.  Some of the people who needed some oil changes or servicing of Harleys and Hondas, rode their bikes to the shop and were shuttled back to the club while their bikes were being attended to.  Gary, Dan, and I left after dinner and got gas and went to our motel.  There are bikes EVERYWHERE as we will be joined tomorrow by a lot of familiar faces and some new ones as well.  We should be getting more and more bikes as we get closer to D.C.