Robins Riders honor veterans with ride to Andersonville

  • Published
  • By Amanda Creel
  • 78th ABW/PA
As Veterans Day approaches each year members of the Robins Riders, the base motorcycle club, assemble and ride to Andersonville National Cemetery in honor of the sacrifices and contributions of veterans.

These sacrifices and contributions are considered to be the backbone of American freedom by the riders. Those who rode to Andersonville Nov. 2 were there to honor all those who served in the name of freedom under the American flag.

All of the riders agreed the event was about honoring those who paid the price for freedom.

The group of 99 motorcyclists began their ride at 8:30 a.m. with the revving of engines and a commitment to memorialize all Veterans, especially those who have fallen and now rest at the cemetery.

After more than an hour on the road, the group gathered for a prayer and a few inspirational words before dispersing throughout the cemetery to post 181 American flags the weekend before family members, descendents and fellow troops would pay respect to those buried there as part of the Veterans Day holiday.

Donn Johnson, who helps organize the event each year, said to his fellow riders before they posted the flags, "It is very difficult for me to come to this place because most of the people out here gave their lives for us to have the freedoms we have today. Freedom is not free and we need to remember that."

Gerry Allen, the cemetery administrator, said they are so grateful to the riders for taking time to help them place the American flags in honor of Veterans Day each year.

"We are very proud to have them take part in it," he said.

He added it is especially heartwarming because of their own ties to the military and the service they themselves have provided the country as troops and civil servants.

"They are always here when we need them and they always do a very respectful job," Mr. Allen said.

Capt. Sammy Stover, a member of the 330th Combat Training Squadron made his first ride to Andersonville this year.

"I was absolutely blown away when I pulled into the cemetery. I will not miss another one," he said.

While Captain Stover felt participating was a good way to give back to all those who served before him, other members of the group had a more personal tie with the veterans laid to rest there.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Jim Strickland served side by side with Army Sgt. 1st Class Victor Anderson as members of the National Guard. Sergeant Anderson lost his life to a road side bomb in Iraq 2005 while the pair was deployed in support of the global war on terror with the Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment, 48th Infantry Brigade.

Sergeant Strickland said he takes advantage of every opportunity to visit his lost comrade, but it was especially important to honor him as the Veteran's Day holiday approaches.

"It's a good way to come out and remember him," Sergeant Strickland said.

Sherman Stevens, 568th Electronics Maintenance Squadron deputy director of manufacturing and calibration, also rode as part of the Veterans Day ride for the first time.

"Its about paying respect to those who have fallen and given me the right to live," said Mr. Stevens. As a Navy veteran himself, he hopes to one day take his final rest among the other Veteran's at the Andersonville National Cemetery.

Other riders said visiting the cemetery was an experience like none other.

"I can feel it, what these people have done for the country," said David Sheppard, who is retired from civil service.

Mr. Sheppard, who has been participating in the ride for more than 10 years said, "Being a United States citizen, you really get a good feeling in your heart."