Name: J. Lee Gorman
I’m a veteran that served from June 1971 to June 1974, so yeah I knew guys that went to RVN. I heard a co-worker (Monty) talking about doing the Run For The Wall in November of 2008 and after talking it over with the wife said I would ride along as well. I called my little brother (Patrick) and asked if he wanted to ride along and he said, “sure!” so we were set. We started planning and buying stuff for our trip in January 2009. Monty and his wife (Fay) had their hotel reservations set by the first week in
February. Pat and I decided we would camp along the way so I borrowed my older brother’s bike trailer (necessitating buying a trailer hitch and wiring). Pat and I worked out the camping stuff by April and started packing the trailer. By May we were set for the trip.
Junction City Kansas is where we met RFTW 2009 and got our FNG buttons and ride packets. We attended the morning meeting and climbed onboard around 8AM. I was in Platoon 7 (Trailer Trash) and Pat and Monty were in Platoon 6. We started the ride with high expectations and much enthusiasm. For the next 5 days we got great weather, super-slab highways and nerve wracking riding. This is not a bad thing, but if you aren’t used to close order formation riding, you’ll be frazzled pretty quick. You have to develop a level of trust for the rider in front and behind you that makes you believe you aren’t going to get creamed if you go prompt stupid for 3 seconds. Your throttle lock or cruise control is only decoration because you aren’t going to get to use them, you’ll have to be constantly making adjustments to your speed, rowing the gear box, off-throttle, on-throttle, clutch, and STAY OFF THE BRAKES. It’s the most I’ve ever worked on a motorcycle in 35 years of riding, period. Through it all safety of your fellow riders is paramount.
Then you remember, this is a mission, not a ride to eat, not a Sunday breakfast call, not a poker run, not a joy ride. It’s a mission to honor those that went before and those that didn’t return. So a little discomfort is OK, a little work is in order because that’s what says you really care. Riding with 700 other people working just as hard as you are says you want to be there, doing what you are doing, which makes those crowds on the streets, the banners hung from the over-passes and the flag wavings from the kids that much sweeter, that much more meaningful. Until you know the sacrifice and pain of this
ride, you can’t appreciate the out-pouring of support you’re being given. The free gas, the free meals, the free camping, the hugs by burly bikers saying, “welcome home,” wouldn’t mean as much without your effort to be there.
During the ride we stopped at Veteran Hospitals to meet brave souls, Vietnam Memorials to pay respect, met the Governor of West Virginia, and eventually got to Washington DC and the National Vietnam Memorial. All the aches and pains of this trip, the right hand cramps, the lack of sleep, the blur of the road, the heat and sweat, all disappeared as we walked to the Wall, mission accomplished. We were home.