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A Montvale welcome home

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School is always a prime stop for Run for the Wall riders

By John Barnhart

    About 300 motorcycle-riding veterans, part of the Run for the Wall event, will roll though Bedford County on their way to Washington D. C. next week.

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     Their destination is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, “The Wall.” Their goal is to remind people of the men who didn’t come home, both killed in action and missing in action (MIA).
    It’s an annual event and Lynn  Fouraker, and her husband, Edwin Craft, have been regular participants since 2004. Craft is the Vietnam veteran, and the driver. Fouraker rides on the bike behind him.
    “I’m the navigator,” she said. “I’m the one who tells him what roads to turn on. He calls me his human GPS.”
    The couple live in Jefferson, Georgia, and ride all the way across the continent to meet up with the group that starts in California. Then they ride all the way back across the continent to Washington.
    Every year, the bikers stop at Montvale Elementary School, and that stop is one of the reasons  Fouraker and Craft keep coming back.
    Fouraker recalls their first trip.
    “We had lunch with the kids,” Fouraker said.
    She said it was interesting seeing all the big, burley riders carrying little, elementary school sized lunch trays. However, it was the enthusiastic reception from the children that really got their attention.
    “My husband looked at me and said, ‘This is the welcome home that I didn’t get in 1971,” Fouraker said.
    Fouraker said visiting these children, and the way the children welcome them, has been a tremendous healing experience for the veterans.
    Promoting the cause of MIA’s and their families is important and Fouraker said they have two women riding with the group who are daughters of men, a Marine Corps pilot and an Air Force pilot, who are still listed as missing in action. Fouraker said their fathers’ crash sites have been identified, but a combination of bureaucracy and a lack of funds have prevented the men’s remains from being repatriated.
    In addition to being married to a Vietnam veteran, Fouraker has an interest in veterans through her father. The late Warren Fouraker was a World War II veteran. She said her father was in the 5th Infantry Division in the European Theater and received the Silver Star after charging a German machine gun position with a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR). Fouraker, however, did not learn much about her father’s war experience until after she met Craft.
    “My dad would tell my husband things me and my brother never heard,” she commented.
    She attributes this to the two men having the common experience of being in combat.
    Run for the Wall is scheduled to arrive at Montvale Elementary School on May 22 at 12:45 p.m.  Traffic delays are always possible, but Fouraker said they aim at arriving 30 minutes early.