More than a thousand motorcycles, three helicopters and a contingent of police vehicles Wednesday night escorted a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial from Cranberry Township to Butler Township.
The escort was organized by the Butler County American Legion Riders, a group of motorcycle-riding veterans and relatives of veterans from the area who frequently do escorts for members of the military returning home from over seas and for the remains of soldiers that are being returned for burial.
Wednesday's ride was open to any motorcycle rider, veteran or not, who wanted to participate. Organizers counted 1,030 motorcycles.
The Vietnam monument, located in the National Mall in Washington D.C., includes the names of more than 58,000 servicemen and women who gave their lives in service in the Vietnam War.
The American Veterans Traveling Tribute is a 360-foot long and nearly 8-foot high replica of the wall — about 80 percent of the size of the real thing. Included on the monument are the names of 43 Butler County residents who died in the war.
Jim Miller of Chicora, one of the organizers with the Legion Riders, said that they have been planning this escort for 16 months. Along with the bikes, they had three helicopters, state police, volunteer fire vehicles, municipal police and Butler County Sheriff vehicles. The wall was carried in a 24-foot trailer pulled behind a pickup truck.
“We want to show the Vietnam veteran that we are proud of them, they did serve their country with honor. The sacrifices they made, they are not forgotten and we are proud of them,” Miller said.