I’m not sure where the month of May went, but it sure passed quickly! I trust all riders returned safely from the Rolling Thunder ride and the hundreds of other equally significant Memorial Day rider events. The month of June always seems to be a month to regroup from my mad dashes on the bike during April and May. Those two months are always insane for me, as I can never seem to get enough riding time in the fresh spring air and my desire to find and renew old friendships. June is a good month for me to plan the rest of the riding year and plot out all the veteran rides to support.
As a veteran rider, I always take the time to reflect each month on major military events, which have impacted our Nation. Some of the well known key June events are: June 6, 1944 - Allied landings began in Normandy and June 14, 1956 - President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating this date to be National Flag Day.
No matter which month you look at, our military has been involved in some conflict, police action or war throughout the world. These military engagements always result wound in action, missing in action, prisoners of war and killed in action. History has proven out time and again that those which paid with blood or loss of freedom were all too soon forgotten by our government and most citizens. It has always taken special groups of citizens to help those disservice muffled voices be heard. One of these special citizen – veteran groups is the POW – MIA Veteran Riders motorcycle club.
David Silcox is the President of the POW-MIA Veteran Riders motorcycle club and has provided us an opportunity to gain an understanding of this veteran club and its mission.
CC: How did your club get its start?
David: The club was founded by John “Grunt” White in California, 2000. It was started in order to provide an outlet for veterans who were looking for a family community club, support the POW-MIA issues, and share a common interest in riding motorcycles.
CC: What is the significance of your club’s name?
David: We ride for those who can’t…the POW’s and MIA’s who are still not accounted for.
CC: Is it a national club? If so, where is the headquarters located and in which states do you have active chapters?
David: The club is national and is incorporated in the State of Virginia. The national headquarters is located outside Harrisonburg, VA in the Shenandoah Valley and we have chapters in Virginia, California, Kansas, and Tennessee. We also have members, building chapters, in Texas, Alaska, Florida, Ohio, New York, Conn., South Carolina, KY, MO, and NC.
CC: What message does your club want to send out to fellow veterans and the community?
David: We are a family oriented veterans group who ARE part of their community and support their community activities, charities and concerns. That we are here to support and spread the word about our fellow veterans who have not come home and ask for their support as the search continues.
CC: Who leads the National Organization, President, Director, etc? What are the qualifications and election procedures?
David: I’m the current national president; a 22 year retired Marine “Gunny.” The president’s office is a four-year tour of duty, appointed by the outgoing president. Other officers are elected by the national membership once a year. You must be a veteran of any service, guard or reserve, to qualify for membership.
CC: Any exclusion’s: motorcycles, ages, sex, etc.?
David: Each member must have a 350cc motorcycle or better, be 21 years of age, male or female, and support the issues of the club.
CC: Does your club have any special rules the members MUST follow?
CC: What is the cost to become a member?
David: National Dues are $10 annually and members must purchase their club colors patches for their vests.
CC: Do you have a special club patch or badge?
David: YES, We wear a vest that has the club colors on the back “POW-MIA Riders” which is on top of the POW/MIA Standard large patch.
CC: How do you become a member?
David: You can visit our web site and print a member application to forward to national.
CC: Do you have any local or national famous club members?
David: We feel all our veterans are famous and heroes. We have mayors, vice-mayors, carpenters, salesmen, insurance men, factory workers, repairmen, teachers, both retired and active duty military from WWII to Desert Storm.
CC: Any annual events you sponsor:
David: As a group, we sponsor the Annual Camp Still Meadows Benefit Ride held every June in Virginia, raising funds for a local charity, which supports our mentally and physically handicapped adults and children. Our annual Kansas Benefit Ride supports the Soldiers Home. We are the caretakers for the cemetery on Mare Island in California, which hosts two Medal of Honor winners and relatives of Francis Scott Keys.
CC: Do you support other activities?
The Club supports many community events and charities across the country, such as the Mid-Atlantic Burn Camp in Virginia and the Children’s Literacy Book Mobile program in Virginia.
CC: Do you have both open and closed events/activities?
David: All activities, events and rides are generally open to the public and we invite riders to join us for rides throughout the year.
CC: In the last 12 months, what most singular event displayed the essence of your club?
David: I have to mention two. The first was accomplished by our California Chapter who has been designated as Caretakers of the Mare Island cemetery. This cemetery, after the downsizing of the base years ago, had fallen into disrepair and in our eyes was a shameful eyesore. Our club is now responsible for its upkeep and to keep those veterans, both famous and not, presentable to the public and make the cemetery something our country can be proud of. The second is our association with the “Gus Bus” Children’s Literacy Program in Virginia. When the state funds were cut for this program, we helped fire-up the communities and raise the funds to continue this vital program.
CC: Your club has a great web site, how do you use it to benefit your goals?
David: The website is a communication tool to give us our national presence, a link to all our members, and a statement as to what our club stands for.
CC: David, thanks for sharing with us an insight to your club. Veteran riders number in the tens of thousands, riding everything from dirt bikes through big cruisers. We all share two important characteristics: being fellow veterans and our passion for riding. Every one of us understands the importance of remaining ever vigilant in the quest to maintain pressure on our government to account for all our MIAs and bring home our POWs.