Jun 12 2020
John O'Connell | Idaho State Journal
POCATELLO — A group of motorcycle riders who will travel with a lit torch from Eugene, Oregon, to Virginia's Arlington National Cemetery in honor of fallen soldiers plans to pay a visit to a local Gold Star family.
About 20 riders with Eugene-based Tribute to Fallen Soldiers will make their 11th Annual Fallen Soldiers Memorial Torch Motorcycle Ride from July 12 through Aug. 2, visiting 68 Gold Star families along their route.
The group will visit the family of Rebecca Webb — a Pocatello woman who is spearheading construction of a local Gold Star Memorial at the Northgate development — at her home at 9 a.m. July 15. Webb's son Christopher made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the nation.
"I know it will be an emotional moment for our family," Webb said. "It means a lot to our family that they contacted us and they want to honor and remember our son."
Lance Kolbet, a spokesman for AMVETS of Pocatello, said members of the POW*MIA Awareness Rally plan to drive their motorcycles to Rupert on July 14 and escort the group to Pocatello, along with Pocatello Police officers and members of the Bannock County Sheriff's Office.
Kolbet said the local Elk's Lodge plans to provide the group lodging for the night and will make them a taco dinner and a breakfast before they leave.
Warren Williamson, founder and executive director of the organization, said the ride follows a different route each year to reach new Gold Star families and will be making its second stop in Pocatello. The group previously honored a local Gold Star family three years ago.
Williamson said the group initially paid visits just to families in Oregon but expanded to surrounding states, before starting the cross-country trek. He's remained in contact with some of the families for more than a decade.
The group spends about an hour with each family, assuring them that the sacrifice of their departed military service member is remembered and appreciated.
"They tell me they always feel that people have forgotten and when people like us, total strangers, show up and we do this, it warms their heart that there are still people who remember their son, their daughter or their spouse," Williamson said.
The trip ends with a closing ceremony at Arlington, where the torch is extinguished in memory of America's fallen soldiers.
Webb said great progress has been made on the local Gold Star Memorial, and a dedication ceremony will likely be held in the spring or early summer of 2021. Webb said the sprinkler system is installed and work will soon commence on the retaining walls and curbing. Volunteers will help with landscaping. Granite must also be sealed and caulked.