Military News

Robins Riders roll out for biannual veterans event

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE -- When it comes to honoring America's war dead, Robins motorcycle riders aren't going to let a little thing like near-freezing temperatures stop them.

A total 80 bikers, the second most in the history of the event, showed up Oct. 31 for the biannual Robins Riders ride to Andersonville National Cemetery. The purpose of the ride is to raise 237 flags on the Avenue of Flags for Veteran's Day.

Temperatures were in the low 30s at departure from the Museum of Aviation parking lot. Most riders were clad in leather chaps and jackets to protect from the biting wind.

"Each time I've done this, I've frozen," said Master Sgt. Lane Goodnaugh, riding a 2002 Fatboy Harley Davidson. "It's definitely real cold when you get out there."

Tech Sgt. Todd Armstrong rode his 2001 Indian.

"I have 2-year-old twins and a brand new baby at home," Sergeant Armstrong said. "Anytime I can get out, I try to, and this seemed like a good cause."

The ride is held in May two weeks before Memorial Day and in November two weeks before Veterans Day. Andersonville National Cemetery was the site of a notorious Civil War prison where 12,913 Union soldiers died. Veterans from other wars are also buried there.

"The reason we do it," said organizer Donn Johnson, "is that it's a way for us to show our respect for those, our comrades in arms, who have given their lives in war."

Although Robins Riders organizes the event, Mr. Johnson said participants do not have to be members of the group. He said the ride usually draws 30 to 40 riders, and the record number is 99. He hopes some day to hit the 100-rider mark.

Mr. Johnson said the high number of riders this year may be related to an increasing number of military and civilian employees on the base riding motorcycles to save on fuel costs. The base currently has 1,900 motorcycles registered, up about 65 percent in the past year.

The flags will stay up through the Veteran's Day weekend.