Fort Rucker, local community bikers celebrate Patriot Day
September 16, 2010
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- More than 100 area motorcyclists rode in remembrance of those fallen since Sept. 11, 2001, during the 1st Battalion, 223rd Aviation Regiment and Daleville Chamber of Commerce poker run Sept. 11.
One hundred and eleven riders travelled through Daleville, Enterprise, Ozark and Dothan, making stops at several local businesses to collect poker cards, said Maj. Rodel Pasibe, 1st Bn., 223rd Avn. Regt. executive officer.
Participants finished in Level Plains where they showed their hands, and enjoyed food and music by the unit's band, Shades of Blue.
"Everybody coming together on (Patriot Day), riding and enjoying the camaraderie was incredible between the community and the military," said Lt. Col. Joseph Matthew, 1st Bn., 223rd Avn. Regt. commander. "It was a huge show of respect for all people who served, past and present."
Those honored during the event included servicemembers, civilian police, firefighters, medics and other emergency personnel involved in the September 2001 rescue efforts, Pasibe noted.
"The event commemorates those who died in the Sept. 11 attacks and all those who are still fighting," he said. "Nine-eleven became a patriotic day for the nation (and) a time for Americans to rally and remember."
This was the event's second year, according to Kay Kirkland, Daleville Chamber of Commerce executive director.
First Bn., 223rd Avn. Regt. is Daleville's sister unit, through the Army Community Covenant and the two entities partner in several annual activities together. A poker run seemed a fitting event, Pasibe said, because the battalion has more than 70 bikers, and many civilians enjoy the sport as well.
"For anyone to have a good quality of life, they ought to have a good work and home environment and I think Daleville is a good community," Matthew said. "It's a privilege to work with folks who want to do and promote things that support Soldiers and Families."
The teamwork during the event showed the interdependence of Fort Rucker and the Wiregrass community, Pasibe said.
"It shows the local community we are present and we contribute to the community," he said.
Supporting the military is important to many area residents, said Kirkland.
"Soldiers protect and serve our country and preserve our democracy. We can never lose sight of those (people)," she said. "We love each other and we love our communities. We love our military here."
Some Soldiers and civilians agreed, and said they enjoyed participating in a good cause and a fun ride on a sunny summer day.
"We need each other to survive. It's good we can support each other and we can all reflect (on Patriot Day) together," said Sgt. 1st Class Jonathon Carroll, 1st Bn., 223rd Avn. Regt. operations noncommissioned officer in charge.
CW2 James Kafer, a UH-60 Black Hawk instructor pilot at Lowe Army Heliport, didn't ride in the event, but cheered for those returning at the finishing point.
"It means a lot to me. I think there needs to be more remembrance events to make an effort to show support," he said.
Husband and wife team Eleida and John Black, of Ozark, said they've been avid bikers since 2006, and join in every local motorcycle-related event possible. This ride's theme made the activity even more special to them.
"(It's important so) we don't forget who fell for us," Eleida said.
She said she lived in New York state at the time, and remembered watching the World Trade Center towers collapse on television. Events like the poker run can help Americans heal from the tragedy, the couple agreed.
"Riding is therapeutic - it's freedom to have the wind blow in my hair," John said. "(Also), we're never forgetting or letting the memory of those fallen die."
Tom Borneman was declared winner of the poker "game," with the best hand, Matthew noted. Borneman works as a Department of the Army civilian CH-47D/F Chinook maintenance test pilot program instructor with A Co., 1st Bn., 223rd Avn. Regt.