SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – This summer, a caravan of motorcycle riders are traveling across the country for four weeks to honor fallen soldiers in a unique way.
A memorial flame making its way across the country to honor fallen soldiers.
The 12th annual Memorial Torch Motorcycle Ride made a stop in Sioux Falls for the first time to honor four fallen South Dakota soldiers Saturday.
One is First Lieutenant Thomas Martin of Huron.
“He was an Army Brat and went on to wear Army boots,” Candy and Edmund Martin, Thomas Martin’s parents, said. “He was enlisted for three years before he went to the United States Military Academy at West Point and served for about two years before he was killed in action in Iraq in October of 2007.”
American Legion Post 15, VFW Post 628 and others hosted the motorcycle caravan riding from Orgeon to Virginia.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Bill Peters, American Legion Sioux Falls Post Adjutant, said. “It’s a great opportunity to recognize fallen soldiers along with veterans.”
“I won’t say it’s closure, but it’s got to be some real satisfying feeling for the families to know that their, their lost ones are being remembered. So, it’s got to be great for the families,” Gary Wolkow, South Dakota American Legion Department Commander, said.
The riders are honoring a total of 75 soldiers this year. The trip will end when they extinguish the flame at Arlington National Cemetry.
“We honor not only killed-in-actions,” Bill Filley, civilian motorcycle tribute rider, said. “As long as they’re active duty, we honor on-base accidents, at home on leave accidents, self-inflicted, which, has really brought awareness to that, they signed up, they said they would serve. And we owe them just like everyone else.”
“We’re honoring someone who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this nation,” Mike Poirier, veteran motorcycle tribute rider, said. “And whether it’s in combat, whether it was in an automobile accident, it doesn’t matter. They were serving their country and, I mean, they deserve to be honored and they deserve to be remembered. And that’s what we’re here for. It’s just such a privilege to be able to do this.”
Before coming to Sioux Falls, the riders also stopped in Rapid City to honor two other South Dakotans who served.