At 7 am, all was quite in Warinanco Park, Roselle, when members of New Jersey Rolling Thunder Chapter 2 began to set up the assembly area for the Ride for Freedom VIII Motorcycle Run to the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Holmdel.
In the distance, the rumble of motorcycles began to echo throughout the park as thousands of bikes lined up at the registration area. Bikers paid the $2 entry fee to cover tolls, expenses, and a donation to the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation and Education Center.
By 9:30, the rumble of motorcycles was muffled by the UH-1 Huey Helicopter from the New Jersey Army National Guard, Troop D, 5th Squadron, 117th Cavalry, which hovered above the rows of bikes and then landed on the soccer field. After shutting down, the crew Chief Warrant Officer 5 Rex Powell, Chief Warrant Officer 2 George Anglim, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stephen Glowzenski and Master Sgt. David Nunlist permitted the crowds of spectators to get a closer look at the aircraft. Veterans pointed out the helicopter to their family members while other veterans said that seeing the aircraft land brought back many memories.
Two hours later, the Police-escorted motorcade began heading out of the park and onto the downtown streets of Roselle toward the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation and Education Center. Thousands of residents lined both sides of the streets and waved American flags or held up handmade signs saying “Thanks Veterans.” Along the route people in cars beeped their horns and gave the thumbs up or the peace sign. As the motorcycle color guard drove by, veterans and children stood, saluted, and cheered for the thousands of veterans and supporters who followed on their bikes.
Arriving at the PNC Bank Arts Center, the bikers parked and walked up to and gathered around the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation and Education Center. Several veterans’ organizations presented memorial wreaths and shared prayers and stories honoring servicemen and women killed in action or listed as missing in action.
At the ceremony’s closing, a bagpiper began to play Amazing Grace, while the UH-1 Huey helicopter flew over the Vietnam Memorial in a tribute to all veterans past, present, and future.