CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Hundreds of motorcycles roared onto the grounds of the state Capitol Thursday for the 26th annual Run For The Wall.
It’s a nearly 3,000-mile cross-country ride to remember those who died in conflict or are MIA. The riders started May 14 in California and they’ll finish May 25 in Washington D.C. at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
One of their stops every year is the West Virginia Capitol. They were greeted by Gov, Earl Ray Tomblin and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Rick Thompson.
One of the riders, Skip Briggs, from Carbondale, Ill., has made the trip 11 times. He said it never gets any easier.
“It’s a mission. It’s a hard thing…I’m going to cry. I’m riding for some guys who can’t ride that aren’t here. I’ve got friends on that Wall,” explained Briggs, who served in the U.S. Army in Cambodia.
He said it’s important to not forget those who served and never returned home.
“It’s a mission of the heart. A ride of the heart,” he stressed. “It brings you to your knees.”
Wayne Conwright, from Tucson, AZ, served in the Air Force in Vietnam. He rode into Charleston with a fresh set of eyes.
“First time I’ve done this. This was on my bucket list,” Conwright said.
He called the run an “amazing” experience.
The riders arrived in West Virginia on Wednesday, spending the night in Hurricane. Conwright said all along the way they’ve been greeted by waving American Flags and smiling faces at each stop.
Wendell Nicholas, an Army veteran from Albuquerque, NM, explained why he rides.
“To remind people of those who….I still get emotional. Just to remind (people) of those who were left behind.”
Nicholas has ridden with the group along sections of the Run in the past but this is his first cross country experience.
“I’ve never been to the Wall. This will be the first time,” he said.
Briggs stressed there are two rules when you join the Run.
“Don’t bring an ego. Don’t bring an attitude.”
The run is also alcohol and drug-free. Some veterans bring their wives, even their children. Others make the trip solo.
The next stop in West Virginia Thursday was Lewisburg.