Thousands of people Saturday showed veterans and current service members that their service to America will not be forgotten.
It was raining when the Patriot Ride first began in 2006 and it was lightly raining again during the beginning of the seventh annual ride June 16.
Doug Bley admitted he was not among one of the approximately 100 people who braved the rain in 2006, but he has been to every one since then and now serves as the president of the Minnesota Patriot Guard. This organization and the Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund (MMAF) split the proceeds of the Patriot Ride, which has raised about $600,000 the first six years, according to Bley.
Patriot Ride organizers planned for more than 5,000 people to be at the home base in Ham Lake Lions Park and at the midway stopping point at the Armed Forces Reserve Community Center in Cambridge, but actual participation numbers have not been calculated at this time. The proceeds come from rider and passenger registration fees and other in-kind donations.
“It’s amazing, breathtaking,” said Lisa LaMotte of Oak Grove, who was at the Patriot Ride for the first time with her husband Chris, who served in the first Gulf War. “I could see us doing it every year.”
Ham Lake Mayor Mike Van Kirk credited city staff, the Ham Lake Fire Department, the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, the VFW and auxiliary, and the many other volunteers who make this event possible. He wanted to thank the men and women in uniform who served and their families for all they have done.
“Ham Lake will always make room for them even as they grow,” Van Kirk said of the Patriot Ride. “The Patriot Ride has a home in Ham Lake.”
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Special Troops First Sgt. Schon Trivelpiece of Osakis recently retired after 22 years of active duty with the U.S. Army. He was deployed during the first Gulf War in 1990-1991, to Iraq between October 2006 and February 2008 and to Afghanistan between March 2009 and May 2010. He was most recently based out of Fort Carson, Colo.
When Trivelpiece enlisted in the Army on July 20, 1989 at the age of 19 while living in Pennsylvania, he was following in the footsteps of his ancestors. A family member has served in the military all the way back to the Civil War. Most recently, his father Robert served in the Vietnam War.
This was the first Patriot Ride for him and his wife Chloe Trivelpiece, who served in the military for four years, and it was the fifth Patriot Ride for Chloe’s mother Jane Cross of Blaine.
“For the first four years, I rode in my daughter’s and son-in-law’s honor,” Cross said. “It’s an honor for me to ride with them on their first ride and hopefully this will become a family tradition.”
Canadian Vietnam vets honored
Although the Canadian government was not involved in the Vietnam War, an estimated 12,000 Canadian citizens were deployed to Vietnam. Around 20,000 total were on active duty in either America or Vietnam at one point, according to the Canadian Vietnam Veterans Association President Ron Parkes.
Paul Grustans of Bloomington was never aware that Canadians served in Vietnam, but after he learned this, he was happy to play the bugle call “Last Post,” which is the United Kingdom’s and its Commonwealth nations’ version of “Taps.”
It would be hard to know who was an American soldier and who was a Canadian unless you asked them because they all wore American uniforms. Canadians who believed in the war crossed the border or Canadian citizens living in America were drafted.
The Canadian Vietnam Veterans Association from Winnipeg brought its moving wall memorial with the names of 121 Canadians killed in Vietnam and seven who are “missing in action.”
Parkes and other Canadians were essentially told by the Canadian government that they could not enlist in the United States armed forces because they would be pledging allegiance to another country. However, the Canadian government ended up not prosecuting anyone, according to Parkes.
Parkes was in the U.S. Army 101st Airborne from 1962 to 1965. He joined about the time the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred and he was with the 3rd Infantry Division that deployed to Vietnam.
Rob Purvis of Winnipeg started the Canadian Vietnam Veterans Association in 1986 and now serves as the board treasurer. He said the moving wall to honor the fallen and missing Canadian Vietnam War veterans started about 10 years ago and has traveled throughout Canada and the northern Midwest states.
Purvis and three of his buddies enlisted at the same time. Purvis served in 1969 and 1970. One of his friends, Larry Collins, was one of the 121 Canadians killed in Vietnam.
Parkes said being able to bring awareness to these Canadian veterans is very important.
“The dead can’t speak for themselves,” he said. “The living have to speak for the dead.”
About the organizations
The Minnesota Patriot Guard began its mission in 2006 to honor and assist service members and their families who are or have been directly impacted by the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. They are the group of motorcyclists and flag bearers who lead a bus of troops returning home or stand on the side of the road holding a flag for a funeral procession.
They are the ones who volunteer their time to help with home repair projects or other chores for families who have a loved one deployed. They have also raised money and contributed to numerous veterans assistance organizations.
MMAF gives $5,000 to the families of fallen soldiers, between $2,000 and $10,000 to a service member who was wounded in combat, and $500 to a veteran who served in a combat zone. The veteran had to have served in a combat zone after September 2001.
Since it was founded in August 2005, MMAF has distributed 4,000 grants totalling $8.4 million.
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org