Congressional Medal of Honor and Iwo Jima veteran Hershel "Woody" Wiliams enjoys a moment with fellow WWII Marine, Dr. E. Bruce Heilman in Charleston, WV during his last official stop of his 6,000 miles solo motorcycle ride honoring America's Gold Star Families and promoting awareness about the upcoming events commemorating the 75th anniversary of major WWII events. Dr. Heilman is helping Woody establish a memorial to Gold Star families in every state by 2020. (Photo by Kenny Kemp, courtesy Charleston Gazette-Mail.)
3rd Annual Ride for America's Gold Star Families
Salute to American Gold Star Families
ABC News Report
WWII veteran Dr. E. Bruce Heilman celebrated his 90th birthday this year by repeating his 2015 cross-country solo motorcycle ride this May, traveling through more than 20 states, riding 6,000 miles.
In 2015, Dr. Heilman, who served as a young Marine during the battle of Okinawa, rode more than 6,000 miles from the East Coast to the West Coast to mark the 70th anniversary of the last and biggest battle of the Pacific Theater in WWII.
This year, Dr. Heilman helped to raise public awareness about the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and to honor of the more than 2,000 who died that day, by riding through several states that had namesakes in the Harbor that lost crew members during the attack:
- USS Arizona (1,177 dead)
- USS Oklahoma (429 dead)
- USS Utah (64 dead)
- USS California (100 dead)
- USS Nevada (60 dead)
- USS West Virginia (106 dead)
Dr. Heilman funded his Ride out of his own pocket.
Click here to make a tax deductible donation of $45 or more to help Dr. Heilman keep the Spirit of the Greatest Generation alive in America!
Thanks to all the members of the American Legion Riders and Patriot Guard who helped Dr. Heilman along the way by covering his hotel, meals and fuel expenses.
Here's a description of Dr. Heilman's day by day itinerary April 30 - May 24
DAY 1 - Early on the morning of Saturday, April 30, Dr. Heilman began his epic cross country Ride in Radcliff, KY at site of future Gold Star Families Memorial and rode 240 miles in heaving rainfall to Carbondale, IL
Thanks to Dell Courtney for giving the Chancellor a great Kentucky Send off!!
Pearl Harbor Survivor Charles Hocker and his daughter Cathy Leet (center photo above) wished Dr. Heilman "Bon voyage!" as he headed off in heavy rains en route to his first stopover in Carbondale, IL.
Dr. Heilman heads into the rain on the first leg of his cross-country ride with Terry Thomas of the Combat Riders Group, and Kelli Oakley, Ride Captain of the Kentucky Patriot Guards.
SIU Arnold Air Society/Silver Wings squadron with Dr. E. Bruce Heilman and with Spirit of '45 Day spokesman Jerry Yellin at AAS/SW national convention in March 2016.
DAY 3 - On Monday, May 2, Dr. Heilman rode 326 miles to Oklahoma City and was met by Robbie Wickers and his fellow American Legion Riders who rode out to escort him to his hotel.
DAY 4 - On Tuesday morning, (May 3), Dr. Heilman placed wreaths at the two memorials that honor the the 429 men who lost their lives abroad the USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, and then rode 260 miles to Amarillo, TX. Special thanks to Brenda Hickerson of Willis Granite (www.WillisGranite.com) who organized this visit.
Following the wreath laying ceremonies in Oklahoma City, Dr. Heilman rode 260 miles to Amarillo, TX where he stayed the night.
DAY 5 - On Wednesday morning (May 4), Dr. Heilman joined Fred Rangel and his colleagues for a wreath laying ceremony at the Texas Panhandle War Memorial that was attended by about about 50 people — including Gold Star families Bruce and Rosie Das and Beronica Bedoy. Pfc. Genaro Bedoy, a 2010 River Road graduate and Bedoy’s son, was killed in Afghanistan in 2012.
“It’s very touching and strengthening that there are people who love our country and give so much to still keep the focus on what this country stands for,” said Rosie Das, whose son, Air Force Capt. Eric Das, died on a mission in Iraq in 2003.
“Eric’s sacrifice was no different than all who have gone before or since,” Bruce Das said, “but it’s very honoring to us.”
Texas Panhandle War Memorial
After the ceremony, Dr. Heilman rode 300 miles to Albuquerque, NM where he spent the evening at the Holiday Inn, courtesy of Terry Shokotski of Carriage Services of Santa Fe, who organized a wreath laying the following morning at the New Mexico Veterans Memorial.
DAY 6 - Dr. Heilman was escorted from Albuquerque to the Arizona border by members of the Arizona American Legion Riders and Patriot Guard, and proceeded on to Casa Verde where he was hosted by the local Riders chapter for the evening at the Fort Verdes Suites, courtesy of Arizona American Legion Riders and the Patriot Guard of Arizona.
DAY 7 - On May 6 (Friday) Dr. Heilman rode 90 miles from Camp Verde to the USS Arizona Memorial in Phoenix to join Terri Flowers of Dignity Memorial, and to pay a visit to Capt. Ruth "Brownie" Girk, 100, who served as a U.S. Army nurse in the Pacific during WWII, to celebrate National Nurses Day.
Photos by Jacob Stanek/Daily News-Sun)
The American Legion Riders and Patriot Guard of Arizona put him at up the Hotel Valley Ho that evening.
DAY 8 - On Saturday, May 7, Dr. Heilman rode 370 milies from Phoenix, AZ to Newport Beach, CA, to have dinner with 98-year old University of Richmond alumnus Hunter Keck, who volunteered to serve in the Navy during WWII.
DAY 9 - On Sunday, May 8, Dr. Heilman rode from Newport Beach, CA to the Battleship USS Iowa in San Pedro with American Legion Rider Tim Ducina, and then proceeded on to Paseo Robles for the evening. (387 miles)
Dr. Heilman at the USS Iowa with Tim Ducina of the California American Legion Riders who escorted him from Newport Beach to San Pedro.
Wall of Honor displayed in front of the USS Iowa in San Pedro, CA
DAY 10 - On May 9 (Monday), Dr. Heilman drove more than 300 miles to arrive in San Jose to visit the site of the planned Gold Star Families memorial that will soon be installed in Oak Hill Memorial Park & Cemetery (a Dignity Memorial provider).
Oak Hill's Rob Wallinger and Karen Carter hosted a rally of Patriot Guards and American Legion Riders at the site and a dinner that evening with special guests Lavada Begley Peterson whose brother, Tommy Begley, died in a kamikaze attack during the Battle of Iwo Jima, Gold Star Mother Diane Layfield whose son Travis Layfield was KIA in Iraq.
Dr. Heilman stayed overnight at the Fairmont Hotel, courtesy of Oak Hill Memorial Park & Cemetery.
DAY 11 - On the morning of May 10 (Tuesday), Dr. Heilman and Warren Hegg met with David Sun to discuss his upcoming visit to Virginia to meet with officials of the Virginia Military Institute to discuss the Spirit of '45 China Burma India Project.
En route to San Francisco, Dr. Heilman stopped for lunch at Buck's of Woodside Restaurant - The "Cheers of Silicon Valley", where he met Buck's founder and owner Jamis MacNiven.
Dr. Heilman spent the evening in San Francisco as the guest of the fabled Marine Memorial Club & Hotel, which was opened on November 10, 1946 as a "living memorial" to Marine casualties in the Pacific theater of WWII in the war.
Thanks to AC for coming down from San Mateo to escort Dr. Heilman from Buck's across the Bay to the Harley Davidson dealership in Oakland where he stored his bike overnight.
DAY 12 - On May 11 (Wednesday) Dr. Heilman was escorted from the Oakland Harley Davidson dealership to Jack London Square by ALR-Chapter 82 President George Smith and his fellow Riders where they toured the USS Potomac ("FDR's Floating White House").
DAY 13 - May 12 (Thursday), Dr. Heilman, Warren Hegg and David Sun were introduced on the floor of the California State Assembly by Assemblyman Kansen Chu, as a special resolution was read into the record honoring the Chancellor and his Memorial Day mission beginning the countdown to the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Dr. Heilman left on his Harley for Reno, NV and continued on to overnight in Winnemucca, NV.
Many thanks to Bill Drummond and Jim Driscoll for joining the Chancellor for his ride through northern Nevada.
DAY 14 - On the morning of May 13 (Friday), Dr. Heilman continued on Hwy 80 to the town of Wendover, UT where he was met by Dave and Dene Richardson and members of the Utah Patriot Guard who escorted him into Salt Lake City for the evening.
DAY 15 - Dr. Heilman spent the Saturday, May 14, with Dave and his colleagues, and helped welcome home the Utah Honor Flight that arrived in Salt Lake that evening.
Thanks to Dave and Dene Richardson for providing overnight lodging for Dr. Heilman during his stop in Salt Lake City.
DAY 14 - Dr. Heilman left Sunday morning with an escort of Patriot Guards and managed to travel all the way to Laramie, WY where he spent the night.
DAY 15 - The Chancellor rode for more than two hours through rain and fog to travel the miles between Laramie and Cheyenne, WY on Monday morning (May 16).
He misplaced his cell phone near Cheyenne, and had to stop over in western Nebraska until it could be brought to him by some concerned citizens.
DAY 16 - On May 17 (Tuesday), Dr. Heilman got up early to ride two hours to North Platte in time to meet Bob Swanson and his fellow American Legion Riders who had ridden out the previous day to meet him at Day's Inn.
Pictured above left to right, Hans Dahman , Pete Bell, Dr. Heilman, Dave Rixstine and Bob Swanson who escorted the Chancellor on last year's Ride across the state.
Thanks to the American Legion Riders of Nebraska for taking such good care of the Chancellor!
An interview with the local NBC/Fox affiliate was quickly organized at the Veterans Memorial before the group rode off to Omaha, NE, IA (280 miles, approx. 4.5 hours), where the Scott Thomsen and his Riders hosted Dr. Heilman as their guest at the Comfort Inn & Suites on 72nd and Grover, off Exit 499 on Omaha I-80.
DAY 17 - May 18 (Wednesday), Dr. Heilman departed from Omaha for Des Moines where he was escorted by Scott Thomsen who rode with him last year during his inaugural Ride (see description of 2015 Ride below).
That night, Dr. Heilman enjoyed dinner with fellow Marine and Iowa State Representative Stan Gustafson and spent the night at the Holiday Inn as the guest of the Cumming Post 562 American Legion Riders
DAY 18 - May 19 (Thursday) Highlights of the day were a 4:00 p.m. interview with Simon Conway of Radio News 1040 WHO (where Ronald Reagan worked as an announcer in the '30's) and dinner with American Legion Department of Iowa State Commander Jim Peterson.
Interview with WWII Veteran of Okinawa who is almost 90 and is riding across the country on a Harley for the #SpiritOf45
During the day, Scott took Dr. Heilman for a tour of the Iowa Gold Star Museum.
Dr. Heilman presented Governor Branstad with the Spirit of '45 Day National Leaders Medal and 70th Anniversary Commemorative patch and button, an enlarged poster sized copy of the full page announcement that appeared in USA Today on August 14, 2015, and photos of his Mother's Day visit to the USS Iowa.
This was the Chancellor's second meeting with Governor Branstad who hosted him when he rode through Des Moines last year on May 15 to hand deliver the first Spirit of '45 Day 70th Anniversary Commemoration proclamation from Oregon Governor Kate Brown (see description below in 2015 Ride roundup report.)
Dr. Heilman then departed Des Moines for Peoria, IL (265 miles, approx. 4 hours) with Scott and his Riders to meet up with Patriot Guard Eric Swanson email@example.com 563-676-7145, at the Iowa/Illinois State Border and escort him as far as Peoria where he will overnight.
A heartfelt Spirit of '45 "Thank you!" to Scott and his fellow members of the Cumming Post 562 American Legion Riders for the great support during the Iowa leg of this year's Ride.
DAY 20 - May 21 (Saturday) Dr. Heilman departed from Peoria for Indianapolis, IN (212 miles, approx. 3.5 hours), and was met by Riders led by Dave Baughman and attended a 2:00 p.m. Rider Rally and wreath laying ceremony at Virginia Veterans Memorial in front of the national headquarters of the American Legion.
Dr. Heilman spent the evening at the courtesy of Carol Ford and Indy Honor Flight
Contact JJ Jones at (757) 897 - 7154 or firstname.lastname@example.org
DAY 21 - On May 22 (Sunday), Dr. Heilman and JJ Jones met Erik Barrett and his fellow Riders and rode 113 miles from Indianapolis to briefly stop at one of Woody Williams' Gold Star Families Memorials in Fairfield, OH, before proceeding on to Cincinnati where Carole Quakenbush and her colleagues from Vitas Healthcare gave them a hero's welcome.
Carole and Erik hosted Dr. Heilman last year during his inaugural Gold Star Ride.
Carole has been organizing community events in the Cincinnati area since Congress unanimously voted for a national Spirit of '45 Day in 2010. She is helping to introduce a new Spirit of '45 Day initiative honoring the nurses and caregivers who served in WWII this year. She is sits on the board of the local Tuskegee Airmen, Inc chapter, and has flown as a guardian on several Honor Flights.
Dr. Heilman was the guest of the Westside Garden Plaza, courtesy Vitas Healthcare.
DAY 22 -
On the morning of May 23 (Monday), Dr. Heilman, JJ Jones and Erik Barrett left Cincinnati for Charleston, WV (200 miles, 3.5 hours), where they met Hershel "Woody" Williams for lunch at Shoney's Restaurant.
Congressional Medal of Honor and Iwo Jima veteran Hershel "Woody" Wiliams enjoys a moment with fellow WWII Marine, Dr. E. Bruce Heilman in Charleston, WV during his last official stop of his 6,000 miles solo motorcycle ride honoring America's Gold Star Families and promoting awareness about the upcoming events commemorating the 75th anniversary of major WWII events. (Photo by Kenny Kemp, courtesy Charleston Gazette-Mail.)
DAY 23 - MAY 24 (Tuesday)
DAY 23 - May 25 (Wednesday)
Contact Cheryl Jackson, Virginia State WWII 75th Anniversary Commemoration Commission (804) 786 - 3591, Ext. 275
Welcome Home, Dr. Heilman!
A celebration marking the end of one epic journey and the beginning of another:
The 75th anniversary commemoration of World War II
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Virginia War Memorial
Who: Virginia War Memorial and the Virginia World War II Commemoration Commission
What: A celebration to welcome home WWII veteran, Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, Chancellor of the University of Richmond, as he arrives back in Richmond at the conclusion of a month-long, cross-country motorcycle ride to raise public awareness about the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
When: Wednesday, May 25, 2016; 9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. (Guests are requested to gather by 9:00 a.m.)
Where: Virginia War Memorial, 621 S. Belvidere Street, Richmond, VA 23220
Things to know: The homecoming ceremony will be held outdoors, near the Shrine of Memory. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in the lobby of the Virginia War Memorial.
The event is free and open to the public. Limited parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Virginia War Memorial. Street parking is available in the surrounding area.
Scheduled Order of Ceremony:
Arrival of Dr. Heilman and escorts
Guests are invited to assemble at Belvidere Street plaza, near the Shrine of Memory
Call to order and welcome
Presentation of Colors
- Warren Hegg, National Supervisor, Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive
- The Honorable M. Kirkland Cox, Chairman, Virginia World War I and World War II Commemoration Commission
- Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, Chancellor, University of Richmond and World War II Veteran
Why: In 2015, Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, who served in World War II as a young Marine during the battle of Okinawa, rode by motorcycle more than 6,000 miles from the East Coast to the West Coast , to mark the 70th anniversary of the last and biggest battle of the Pacific Theater in WWII, which lasted 82 days (April 1 to June 22, 1945) and claimed the lives of 14,000 Americans and more than 250,000 Japanese.
This year, in celebration of his 90th birthday and to raise awareness of the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into World War II, Dr. Heilman recreated the cross-country motorcycle ride.
For more information on Dr. Heilman's ride and Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive, visit www.spiritof45.org
May 27 (Friday)
- American Legion Gold Star Families BBQ
Contact Bob Susson for details at (703) 328 - 7691 or email@example.com
May 28 (Saturday)
World War II veteran Dr. E. Bruce Heilman delivered a Memorial Day message to Legion Riders and Gold Star Families during a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery's Civil War Unknown Monument during the 2016 Run to the Thunder events leading up to the annual Rolling Thunder ride through Washington D.C. Video
May 29 (Sunday)
Dr. Heilman joined hundreds of volunteers who participated in the annual Spirit of '45 Memorial Day March of Heroes.
2015 Spirit of '45 Gold Star Salute
Dr. Heilman's Excellent Ride
April 23 - May 25, 2015
On April 23, 2015, Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, Chancellor of the University of Richmond, a tireless spokesman and advocate for Spirit of Day, completed a solo 6,000-mile motorcycle ride through more than 20 states in 23 days to help raise awareness about the WWII 70th Anniversary Commemoration this year. More...
Map of route of Dr. Heilman's remarkable pre-Memorial Day ride, showing his overnight stopovers.
Thanks to the American Legion Riders and all the organizations and individuals who helped make the Chancellor's historic ride such an outstanding success!
Thanks to the American Legion and John Napolitano for these videos
We're in the process of producing a commemorative book of photos and commentary documenting what you all did together to keep the Spirit of '45 alive and prepare America for the WWII 70th Anniversary Commemoration Weekend this August. If you have photos that you believe should be included, please send them to Info@Spiritof45.org.
Here's a day by day description of this extraordinary gentleman's epic 2015 Ride
December 17, 2014 - Chancellor Heilman spoke about his planned solo motorcycle tour at the National Press Club during the announcement of Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive's plans to inspire a grassroots commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Following the press conference, he met with senior officials of the American Battle Monuments Commission and the VA National Cemeteries Administration to discuss the around the world Tribute on Sunday, August 16.
Chancellor Heilman with Timothy Nosal, public affairs director, American Battle Monuments Commission
February 13 -15 - Dr. Heilman attended the 2015 Spirit of '45 Day National Leaders Conference in SanDiego where he officially announced his plans to ride coast to coast "as a modern day Paul Revere" to help build public awareness about the WWII 70th Anniversary Commemoration in August.
San Diego Harley-Davidson arranged for a group of Marines to ride up to meet the Chancellor and invited him to welcome party when returned to San Diego on May 4.
Monday, March 23 - Dr. Heilman stopped off in Honolulu en route home from attending the 70th anniversary commemoration in Iwo Jima to help promote the Spirit of '45 70th Anniversary Commemorative Weekend which will conclude with an around the world Tribute that ends in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in the Punchbowl.
Cycle City loaned the Chancellor a Harley so he could achieve his goal of riding a motorcycle in every one of the 50 states. Dr. Heilman was joined by American Legion Riders of Hawaii Chapter 17 who accompanied him to Pearl Harbor where they posed with the Seward Johnson sculpture depicting the famous "Times Square Kiss" that is on loan to the USS Missouri, and then proceeded to the Cemetery to visit the grave of Spirit of '45 Day "founding father" Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.
Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive Hawaii rep Vanita Rae Smith, who has organized Spirit of '45 Day events in Honolulu since 2010, also attended the gatherings.
Special thanks to Jay Morford and Ennilee Analao of Dignity Memorial Hawaii for organizing this special visit. More...
Thursday, April 30 - The Chancellor rode into Las Cruces, NM in the afternoon where he was greeted by David and Debra Melcher, chairman and co-chair of Honor Flight New Mexico, who arranged a dinner with fellow WWII veterans and arranged for his overnight stay at the local Quality Inn.
Chancellor Heilman at the USS Missouri, with the Kiss, in Pearl Harbor and at Sen. Dan Inouye's gravesite
in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
Tuesday, April 28 - The Chancellor rides from Tyler, TX to Abilene, TX, stopping en route to visit the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery where he was joined by members of the Patriot Guard. The Cemetery will be participating in the around the world Tribute that will conclude the Spirit of '45 70th Anniversary Commemorative Weekend on Sunday, August 16. Thursday, April 23 - The Chancellor began his epic cross country Ride on Thursday, April 23, at Quantico Marine Base -"Crossroads of the Marine Corps" - where he attended the traditional early morning flag raising with members of American Legion Riders, Post 186, who rode 380 miles with him to his first stop at The Cypress of Charlotte.
Pictured below are Dr. Heilman and members of Post 186 and Cole Kevitc, president and founder of Walking Civics, who is helping to recruit youth volunteers to join the Chancellor and members of the Post who will lead the WWII section of the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, DC on May 25. More...
At 88, University of Richmond's Chancellor aka "Motorcycle Man" prepares for new quest to publicize WWII 70th anniversary More... American Legion Riders Post 186 of Virginia sign up Dr. Heilman as their newest member More...
Friday, April 24 - The Chancellor rode solo from Charlotte, NC to Atlanta, and was hosted at the Holiday Inn Atlanta Downtown Centennial by Larry Robert, Veteran Liaison, Vitas Healthcare.
Saturday, April 25 - Ted Ryan, Coca-Cola's archivist arranged for Dr. Heilman to have a VIP tour of the WWII exhibit at the World of Coca-Cola during his stop over in Atlanta, where he was joined by fellow WWII veterans Roy and Ellie Williams, and Jean Ousley, president-elect of the American Rosie the Riveter Association, for a VIP tour of the WWII exhibits at the World of Coca-Cola, arranged by Ted Ryan, Coca-Cola's archivist.
The Williams, both Navy veterans, were married on August 15, 1945, and will be representing the couples of the Greatest Generation at the kick off media event in Times Square on Friday, August 14, and the Tribute ceremony at the East Coast World War II Memorial in Battery Park at the conclusion of the WWII 70th Anniversary Commemorative Weekend on Sunday, August 16.
Heavy thunderstorms forced the Chancellor to stay overnight in Atlanta, and cancel his visit to Birmingham, AL that evening to meet Dr. Fran Carter, the founder of the American Rosie the Riveter Association (ARRA), and her daughter Nell Branham who had organized a welcome and overnight stay at the Brookdale Place University Park that evening.
Sunday, April 26 - American Legion Riders Bob Christie and Denis Graffun drove all night from their homes in Virginia to arrive at 2 a.m. in Atlanta to load the Chancellor's Harley on Bob's trailer and driving more than 600 miles to Shreveport, LA in time for his morning press conference. Bob and Denis traveled a total of more than 2,000 miles to help the Chancellor maintain his schedule - now THAT's the Spirit of '45!
American Legion Lowe-McFarlane Post 14 hosts press conference in Shreveport, LA which declared Monday, April 27 as "Dr. E. Bruce Hielman Day More...
Wednesday, April 29 - The Chancellor rides 430 miles from Abilene, TX to El Paso, stopping off briefly at the Commemorative Air Force HQ in Midland, TX to thank them for their efforts to promote the national flyovers by WWII vintage planes by their more than 80 units during the Spirit of '45 70th Anniversary Commemorative Weekend in August, and to help publicize the CAF's Arsenal of Democracy/WWII Victory Capitol Flyover that took place in Washington, DC on Friday, May 8.
Friday, May 1- The Chancellor arrives in Tucson, AZ from Las Cruces, NM, where he was hosted at a fish fry dinner by American Legion Post Morgan McDermott AZ Post 7, and overnighted at the Atria Bell Court as their guest. Special thanks to Mary at Post 7, and Michelle Salvio.
Saturday, May 2 - The Chancellor rode 240 miles from Tucson, AZ to Yuma, AZ where he overnighted at the Marine Corps Air Base (Thanks to Jack Harkins for arranging this stay.)
Sunday, May 3 - The Chancellor was escorted by a group of American Legion Riders of California Area 5 who accompanied him all the way from Yuma, AZ to San Diego for a Welcome Rally hosted by New York Mike and his team at the San Diego Harley-Davidson More...
The Riders later accompanied him to Miramar National Cemetery where they placed a wreath at the grave of fellow WWII Marine and Spirit of '45 Day national spokesman Jerry Coleman. Joining them were representatives of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Young Marines.
Special thanks to Lisa Marcolongo of Elizabeth Hospice of the San Diego Veterans Hospice Partnership for providing the beautiful wreath and the live butterflies that were released as Roy Zanni of Bugles Across America performed "Taps."
Monday May 4 - The Chancellor visited USS Midway Museum president and CEO Admiral Mac McLaughlin, CEO, and Scrott McGaugh, the Midway's marketing director, who gave him a tour of the Museum, which included its new Battle of Midway exhibit which opened earlier this year.
Dr. Heilman expressed his appreciation for the role the Midway has played since 2009 in establishing Spirit of '45 Day and for being an inspiration to WWII vintage ships and other organizations that are honoring the WWII Seaborne Services Legacy this year. The Midway is planning a major Spirit of '45 70th Anniversary event on the weekend of August 14 - 16.
Dr. Heilman also visited the USMC Depot where he received his basic training in 1944, and got a personal tour of the Marine Corps Museum and the new Jerry Coleman Memorial Gymnasium. Later that afternoon, he met with Jim Kidrick, president and CEO of the San Diego Air & Space Museum, to thank him for his efforts to publicize and promote the 70th Anniversary WWII Airpower Legacy Project.
Special thanks to Marine veteran Jack Harkins, chairman of the United War Veterans Council, for organizing the Chancellor's visits and accommodations in San Diego.
Saturday, May 9 - Dr. Heilman gave the commencement speech as his alma mater in Louisville, KY, and flew back to San Diego to resume his historic Ride back across America.
Sunday, May 10 - The Chancellor and members of the American Legion Riders gathered at the "Times Square Kiss" statue in front of the USS Midway for photos before they headed out to Las Vegas to attend a welcome party fund raiser hosted by the local Harley-Davidson dealer. For more photos, click here.
American Legion Riders join Dr. Heilman at the famous "Spirit of '45 Day Kiss" sculpture in front of the USS Midway on Sunday, May 10, before escorting him to Las Vegas for a fund raiser sponsored by the local Harley Davidson dealership. Click here for more photos.
Thanks to CJ Macado for setting things up in San Diego and Las Vegas for the Chancellor!
Monday, May 11 - Dr. Heilman rode the 500 miles (!) from Las Vegas to Grand Junction where he spent the night.
Tuesday, May 12 - The Chancellor rode solo from Grand Junction to Denver with Jake Schroeder for a press event and meetings with World War II veterans on Wednesday organized by Timothy Davis, founder and president of The Greatest Generations Foundation.
Wednesday, May 13 - Dr. Heilman braved rainstorms and high winds from Denver, CO to Kearney, NE, where he was given a complimentary room by Best Western (Thank you, Kelly!). Bob Swanson of the American Legion Riders rode in that afternoon to join him for the ride to Des Moines on the following day.
Thursday, May 14 - American Legion Riders led by Bob and Mike Robaszkiewicz escorted the Chancellor in the rain to Omaha, NE, where Scott Thomsen and his brother joined him for the ride on through the rain to Des Moines, IA and paid for his room at the Holiday Inn for the evening.
Oregon first to announce "WWII 70th Anniversary Spirit of '45 Commemorative Week" featuring statewide concert tour and wreath laying ceremonies
The Chancellor arrived safely in Joliet later that afternoon where he was met by Diane Novak of Dignity Memorial (lower right) and a motorcycle escort who joined him for a great dinner that evening.
Sunday, May 17 - Members of Indy Honor Flight went the extra mile - literally - to make sure the Chancellor was able to get to Indianapolis in time to join a group of veterans of the Battle of Okinawa in laying a wreath in honor of the more than 14,000 Americans who died during the final battle of WWII.
PB "Stumpy" Gore road his bike out to Joliet with Donnie and Janice Schauwecker who transported Dr. Heilman and his Harley where they represented post 9/11 Gold Star families at the ceremony. (The Schauwecker's son, Staff Sgt. Richard Blakely was KIA in Iraq in 2006.)
After the wreath laying ceremony, the veterans were bused over to the Indy 500 Speedway where they met NASCAR racing stars Ryan Hunter-Raey and Pippa Mann, and visited the Andretti garage before enjoying a dinner together, sharing stories of their service in the Corps!
Dr. Heilman spent the evening as a guest of Westside Garden Plaza, a long time supporter of Indy Honor Flight and its veterans.
More photos from Indy here.
Monday, May 18 - Dr. Heilman began his day with a quick visit to American Legion Headquarters in Indianapolis to express his appreciation for the support of the American Legion Riders who have shadowed him throughout his ride.
Then it was off to Cincinnati, OH, with Don and Janice Schauwecker where Carole Quakenbush and Tina Spicer had organized a warm welcome and a great overnight stay at the Twin Towers.
Tuesday, May 19 - Dr. Heilman was escorted all the way to Louisville by his Cincinnati friends, where he was greeted by Dell and Fred Courtney who are put together an outstanding schedule for him as he returned to his home state of Kentucky.
Overnight accommodations were provided by Atria Senior Living, whose communities have been holding Spirit of '45 Day events for the past 3 years, and was honored with the 2012 Community Partner Award.
Wednesday, May 20 - The Chancellor headed for home!
The Chancellor rides home for Memorial Day!
Dr. Heilman with members of the Spirit of '45 team in Washington, DC, Ashleigh Wagner of U-Haul, a young Rosie lookalike at the National World War II Memorial and receiving the National Spirit of '45 Day Medal from Dani Masterson of BAA on Memorial Day More... Dr. Heilman returned to Richmond, VA take part in the annual Rolling Thunder rally with members of the American Legion Riders who had helped him along his journey.
The Riders provided him with an escort as he led the annual Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive entry in the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, DC on Monday, May 25, which this year featured a Spirit of '45 70th Anniversary float provided by U-Haul International, which is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its founding by WWII Navy veteran L.S. "Sam" Shoen.
Courtesy Jeff Malot Photography
Grand Marshal Dr. Heilman leads WWII section of National Memorial Day Parade up Constitution Avenue. UHaul Spirit of '45 70th Anniversary Commemoration float passes in front of the National Archives. Dr. Heilman salutes the fallen of WWII as Dani Masterson of Bugles Across America, plays "Taps" at the close of the wreath laying ceremony in front of the Wall of Gold Stars at the National World War II Memorial. More...
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at 10 a.m .EST in Louisvil