Eighty-two motorcyclists started their engines early last Saturday morning at the Turnaround before launching a weekend ride to raise awareness of the more than 1,000 Oregonian soldiers missing in action or prisoners of war.
After a “challenging ride” due to weather, co-organizer Cliff Brumels of the Oregon Veterans Motorcycle Association said riders arrived in Ontario Sunday at 6 p.m., one hour ahead of Pacific Standard Time. “At the end, we had approximately 52 bikes and 60 people complete the mission all the way.”
In 2019, U.S. Highway 26 was designated by the state as the POW/MIA Memorial Highway, the association’s sergeant-at-arms Tim Wilson said. The 471-mile highway runs from Seaside to Ontario. The cross-state rally is the first of what organizers hope will be an annual event.
Riders pay to participate, with funds used to help Oregon veterans in need and pay for highway memorial signage.
The association, with chapters in Bend, Eugene and Salem, is one of several state veterans motorcycle groups, president Ray Rose of Bend’s High Desert Eagles said.
Participants come from all walks of life, Brumels said. “There’s a wide mix of bikes and wide mix of people here, people who care about veterans.”
Riders, from Oregon, Washington, Nevada and California, traveled in “platoons” depending on the type of bike, Wilson said.
On Saturday afternoon, the group arrived at the Madras City Plaza for a sign ceremony before heading to the Prineville American Legion post for dinner.
The weekend ended with a signing of the POW/MIA highway sign by riders, auction and moment of silence for comrades still missing, Brunels said.
The group raised $5,000 from the ride to pay for the last sign, to be placed in Ontario.
Rose asked the public to support efforts on behalf of the families of those soldiers still missing.
“It’s been a long time,” Rose said. “Their bodies have not been recovered. We don’t want to leave anybody behind.”