GROTON — The Vietnam War ended 45 years ago, but 125 soldiers from New York are still missing in action, said Harvey Baker CQ’d HIM, a member of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 377 in Dryden.
Further, 300,000 New Yorkers served in the war but did not get recognized for their service until years later.
“The country was kind of against Vietnam so they were against us because they viewed us as Vietnam,” he said Saturday.
To recognize and honor the veterans who served in the war, Baker and 150 others rode their motorcycles nearly 100 miles from Owego to Sterling for the 12th Annual Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway of Valor tribute ride.
The riders — and a few following in cars from the 1960s and 1970s — started around 11 a.m. at Owego Free Academy and travelled up Route 38 to the American Legion Carrington-Fuller Post 800 in Groton, where they stopped for an hour to get food, refuel their bikes, and use restrooms.
Except for a brief shower in Groton, Baker said the ride was fine.
Residents along the route stood near the road and watched as the riders passed, some sporting American flags, Baker said.
“We know we have an effect and are getting recognition for New York state Vietnam veterans and Medal of Honor recipients” from the state, he said.
He also noted that riders came as far away as Rochester, Binghamton and Pennsylvania.
The 100-mile ride was first held in 2009 after Route 38 was designated as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway of Valor, Baker said.
Each year, the event has drawn anywhere from 300 to 500 riders but was smaller Saturday because of COVID-19 concerns, Baker said.
Still, riders enjoyed the event.
“It’s awesome,” said Mike Standon of Martville. “All of us going through the smaller towns and the actual veterans standing out saluting us as we go by, that is a huge emotional thing right there.”
Standon said he was participating Saturday in his second ride because he loved riding and to help support Vietnam veterans.
Dominick Langella, a member of the Hellfighters Christian Ministries New York unit, said he was riding to support veterans of the Vietnam and all wars. Marcus Saylor and Michael Donnelly, also of the unit, rode with Langella.
“They put in a lot so we’re just here to support them,” Langella said, and because God brought the three home safely.
“People like them, that’s what we need,” Donnelly said. “Those are the ones that will always protect, always provide. When many of us just sit at home, they’re out there in the trenches.”