Motorcycle ride honors fallen US SOF heroes
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (Sine Pari, June 18, 2008) – The roar of engines engulfed the Night Stalker compound as about 100 motorcyclists riding in precession for the annual Redwing19 Memorial Ride arrived in the early morning hours of June 7.
This ride is hosted by the Redwing19 organization, which was founded in honor of the 19 special operators who were killed in action on June 28, 2005, during Operation Red Wing while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan. Three SEALS died in combat on the ground that night and then eight 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment aviators and eight Navy SEALS died when their helicopter crashed,trying to rescue the SEALS on the ground.
The special operators who died that day were: Night Stalkers Maj. Stephen C. Reich; Chief Warrant Officer Chris J. Scherkenbach; Warrant Officer Corey J. Goodnature; Master Sgt. James W. Ponder, III; Sgt. 1st Class Marcus V. Muralles; Sgt. 1st Class Michael L. Russell; Staff Sgt. Shamus O. Goare; and Sgt. Kip A. Jacoby; and SEALS Chief Petty Officer Jacques J. Fontan; Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel R. Healy; Lt. Cmdr. Erik S. Kristensen; Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffery A. Lucas; Lt. Michael M. McGreevy, Jr.; Petty Officer 2nd Class James Suh; Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric S. Patton; and Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey S. Taylor.
Riders began their day with a brief ceremony at the Night Stalker Memorial to reflect and remember these American heroes.
Col. Clayton M. Hutmacher, 160th commander, said special operations forces have a brotherhood that transcends service lines, a relationship that was evident in this operation.
“We are bound together by our commitment to the mission and our comrades,” he said. “We are blessed as a nation to have citizens such as these.”
Two Gold Star wives echoed that sentiment in their remarks with reminders of how these men lived by their respective unit creeds, upholding the highest regard for the mission and most importantly each other.
“When the call came in that Mike, Danny, Matt and Marcus were in trouble, there was absolutely no hesitation from the SEALS or from the Night Stalkers,” said Laura McGreevy, widow of Lt. Michael McGreevy. “They were ready to go to get their brothers and there was nothing that was going to stand in their way.”
The loyalty, care and concern extend beyond these units. Families feel it too.
“Today we come together to honor the brave 19 from Operation Red Wing but we are here to support the families of all Special Operators killed in the line of duty,” said Leslie Ponder, widow of Master Sgt. James Ponder. “Just as the men of Red Wing supported each other, we too must follow their example and support (wives and children of our fallen) who have sacrificed so much for our country.”
Attendees had the opportunity to mingle and explore helicopter and SEAL operator static displays before re-convening for the morning ride. After a scenic ride through Land Between the Lakes natural recreation area in Kentucky, the day ended at the Hopkinsville Civic Center for a family barbecue.
Rider Gordon Sutton said the event was great, especially on a personal note since he was given the honor and privilege to ride Mrs. McGreevy on his motorcycle.
“To me it is all about the support to the families of the fallen heroes and to give tribute to their memories,” Sutton said.
He tries to support all events that remember the nation’s fallen warriors.
“A little time from my life to remember those whom have given their all is a small price to pay,” he said.
All proceeds from the memorial ride support the Redwing19 fund that provides educational assistance to family members of any special operations personnel killed in action.
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