Travel and safety issues due to the aftermath of Hurricane Irma have forced the cancellation of a large event in Warner Robins this week honoring prisoners of war and those missing in action.
The Ride Home was expected to bring more than 100 POWs from around the country into the city Friday and Saturday. It also was supposed to include a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, but the entire event has been canceled.
Also, a separate event at the Museum of Aviation set for Thursday in honor of National POW/MIA Recognition Day has been canceled.
Jim “Moe” Moyer, one of the founders of The Ride Home, said the decision was made late last week as Irma was bearing down on Florida. After consulting POWs who were expected to come, and considering the expected travel conditions following Irma, the decision was made to cancel the event entirely. Most of the POWs he spoke with did not believe they would be able to come.
With highways backed up and hotels still booked up in the area Wednesday, Moyer said he believed it was the right call. The traveling Vietnam Wall is stuck in North Carolina and wouldn’t have been able to make it, he said. He consulted with board members of the event in a conference call before deciding.
“It hurt bad, to say the least,” he said. “It was two-hour conference call, and it took a while to let it go.”
The Vietnam Wall was expected to be at Central Georgia Technical College from Thursday to Friday. POWs were to be honored in an event at Andersonville National Historic Site on Friday, with an escorted ride from Warner Robins expected to include 1,000 people.
The event, previously held in Americus, was being held for the first time in Warner Robins. It is connected with National POW/MIA Recognition Day, which is held the third Friday in September. Moyer said The Ride Home will be held in Warner Robins next year, and he hopes to schedule the Vietnam Veterans Memorial replica again.