A collaborative effort of ASMC and ASMC Suffolk

By: Tom Perretta
Photos by: Mike Perretta and Cathy Giammona

None are so affected as those souls in times of war. As such, our local motorcycling community turned out, as fate would have it, at a rate of one rider for each 69th Infantry soldier activated for duty in Iraq. As you may have read, volunteer members of the legendary 69th Infantry, (The Fighting 69th), 42d Infantry Division, New York Army National Guard, have received orders deploying them to Iraq. Most of the soldiers who comprise this unit are residents of the local communities of, Nassau, Suffolk, and New York City, with armories in Huntington Station, Freeport, Bayshore, and Manhattan.
The dedicated soldiers of the National Guard can trace their heritage back to the “Minute Men” of the Revolutionary War. Historically, they live and work in our towns and villages, train and maintain their military readiness in the event our nation issues a call to arms. Perhaps a few of these steadfast individuals are your co-workers and neighbors.
They are currently answering the call of a nation in need, and, in our area, concern is for the members of the families they are leaving at home. This deployment of the 69th will affect the parents, spouses, and children of hundreds of families.
Over two hundred of the unit’s enlisted personnel and officers are overseas, and two hundred and twenty five hearty souls participated in American Spirit’s Monument and Mystery Tour to benefit the 69th Infantry Family Support Group. This group, composed of the soldier’s family members, confronts emotional issues, provides moral and substantive support, and sends items to the soldiers that evoke a link to home.
On the morning of the event, somber, battleship gray skies threatened rough seas and wet roads, no doubt, keeping some riders in port and in the rack. Yet, former Marines, being always true to brothers in arms, were not so easily deterred. The Leathernecks rallied to the cause, as did riders from Alliance , American Spirit Mid-Hudson, BACA, Cross Island, Dead Horse (club of one), Family Jammin’, Fire Riders (Nassau and NYC), Free Wheelin’, HOG (NYC and Hudson Valley), IDONTKNOW, Iron Maidens, Lawmen, Nassau Wings, Queensboro, Road Runners, South Shore, Untouchables, Who Cares Committee, Wizards, and numerous independent riders.
For a donation of $15 and a new toy, the riders received a run pin, a pocket calendar date book, the traditional skull key chain, food, drink, desserts, music, and door prizes, not mention a fabulous route sheet!
The “Mysterious” route traversed ninety miles, over a variety of roads, from parkway thoroughfares to curvy two lane twistys of the Island’s Gold Coast, all in the pursuit of solving riddles posed on the route sheet. There were nine questions in all, ranging from absurdly simple; i.e. finding the elevation of Mitchell Field, to mathematically discerning the life spans of some of Long Island’s long departed inhabitants! For each correctly answered question, the participants drew a corresponding number of playing cards (maximum total of nine) to form their best poker hand.
At the Bayshore Armory, the riders had the opportunity to meet some of the members of the Family Support Group. The wife of one of the soldiers, in her comments to the assembled participants, stated that she knew her husband would be overjoyed to
hear about the overwhelming concern expressed by the local community for the families of the troops.
Assistance by numerous corporate sponsors facilitated a greater net donation to the Family Support Group, which otherwise might not have been as substantial. The members of the group present deemed the event an unqualified success. The donated toys will be presented to the children at the Support Group’s Christmas Party. Monies raised by the rally will be used to fund the party and to provide postage fees and other necessities for the numerous “shoe box” care packages of goodies sent to the unit’s soldiers. The kindness and generosity of all those involved contributed to positive outcome of this event benefiting the families of our local Army National Guard.
The wives, children, and parents of the troops, couldn’t thank those in attendance enough, yet there was a feeling that it was us who needed to be appreciative.

L.I.M.A. members riding in to lend their support to the Family Support Group. Riders from numerous clubs, independents, and members of AMA District 34, all contributed to make this event a resounding success!

Riders of all shapes and sizes, some with hair and some without, all united for a common cause of good will in providing a bit of assistance to the families of the Fighting 69th!

Riders quickly filled the HUMV with toys with hope of beating Santa to the Christmas Tree!

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