A traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is coming to Warner Robins in September as a part of a tribute to prisoners of war and those missing in action.
The memorial, often called the wall, which has the names of over 58,000 U.S. troops killed during the Vietnam War, will be at Central Georgia Technical College. It will open to the public at 1 p.m. Sept. 14 and will remain open around the clock until 4 p.m. Sept. 16.
It is part of The Ride Home, a large annual event to recognize POWs and MIAs that is being held for the first time in Warner Robins. It previously had been based in Americus but moved because of its growth.
More than 100 former prisoners of war from around the country are expected to attend, as well as families of those who remain missing in action, said Jim “Moe” Moyer, one of the founders of the event. Families of those who lost loved ones in war are also invited as special guests. He said 130 POWs are currently signed up to attend and they have had as many as 190. The ones signed up for this year are about equally divided between World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam.
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Hundreds of Rolling Thunder motorcyclists are coming to escort the honorees. Rolling Thunder is a group dedicated to raising awareness of POW/MIA issues.
The escorted rides will feature up to 1,000 people and may be up to three miles long, Moyer said. One will be held Sept. 15, a Friday, beginning at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry. It will depart at 7:30 a.m. to go to Andersonville National Historic Site for a National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony, then will leave Andersonville at noon to return to Warner Robins, also under escort.
At 4 p.m. on the same day the group, again expected to number about a 1,000, will leave under escort from Harbor Freight on Watson Boulevard to Central Georgia Technical College, where a dinner will be held. Moyer said details on the routes will be released later, and he is hopeful people will line the roads to show appreciation for the honorees. He said some people have come out to do that during the rides in Americus but not a lot.
“We are hoping we can see a little bit more of that,” he said. “Obviously the honored guests are thrilled when they see people out recognizing them.”
He expected details of the route will be posted at www.theridehome.com in the coming days.
An escorted ride will also be held that Saturday, Sept. 16, starting at 9:45 a.m. at Harbor Freight and going to Central Georgia Technical College, where a ceremony and picnic lunch will be held for the honorees.
The dinner is $25 and is open to the public. People can get a ticket by going to www.theridehome.com and clicking on the “merchandise” link at the top. A full schedule of the related activities is also on the website. The dinner will feature the premiere of an hour long documentary called “A Solemn Promise,” about efforts to account for those missing in action.
Many of the POWs and MIA families are expected to attend the annual National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony to be held at the Museum of Aviation at 3 p.m. Sept. 14, although there will not be an escorted ride to that event.
Anyone who wants more information on The Ride Home events can email Rolling.Thunder.Ga3@gmail.com or call Moyer at 407-448-1181. Any former POWs, families of those missing in action or families who lost loved ones in war are asked to contact the group if they have not yet been invited to the event.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall replica is owned by Vietnam and All Veterans of Brevard in Cocoa, Florida. It is three fifths the size of the actual wall at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.