Approximately 400 riders from Run for the Wall, a veterans advocacy and awareness group, passed through the area on Monday, heading east on I-70 towards their final destination of Washington, D.C. Specifically formed to bring attention to Prisoners of War and armed service members deemed Missing in Action, RFTW was an effort started in 1989 by Vietnam veterans, James Gregory and Bill Evans.



The group is not exclusive and veterans of all American conflicts are accepted. Beginning in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. on May 16, RFTW bikers travel to Arizona, where they split up into two groups. The northern route passes through New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas before following I-70 through Missouri. Bypassing Missouri altogether, the southern route travels through Texas, Louisiana and Alabama.


Approximately 400 riders from Run for the Wall, a veterans advocacy and awareness group, passed through the area on Monday, heading east on I-70 towards their final destination of Washington, D.C. Specifically formed to bring attention to Prisoners of War and armed service members deemed Missing in Action, RFTW was an effort started in 1989 by Vietnam veterans, James Gregory and Bill Evans.

The group is not exclusive and veterans of all American conflicts are accepted. Beginning in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. on May 16, RFTW bikers travel to Arizona, where they split up into two groups. The northern route passes through New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas before following I-70 through Missouri. Bypassing Missouri altogether, the southern route travels through Texas, Louisiana and Alabama.

The two groups eventually arrive and rejoin one another in Washington, D.C., where they gather with thousands of other bikers from across the country in a final ride to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Tom Burns, a local rider, joined up with RFTW on the way to the nation's capital. "They normally travel with 400 to 500 riders per route. There are eight to nine platoons per route, with about 50 people in each platoon," he said.

At the Cooper County Fairgrounds highway overpass, about 60 people, veterans and civilians alike, waved flags, clapped and cheered as the entourage thundered underneath the bridge en route to Columbia.

William Hammond, who served in the Vietnam conflict from 1967-68, proudly waved a black flag in remembrance of those not to be forgotten — prisoners of war and those classified as missing in action. He served with the U.S. Army as an artillery mechanic in support of the 1st Cavalry Division and was attached to the 178th Maintenance Battalion. Post-Vietnam, Hammond served with the Missouri National Guard for 11 years and left as a Staff Sergeant.

"After I got home, I stayed pretty much to myself. What we did over there was unpopular with a lot of the public," said Hammond. "Now, I share myself and my story more and I want people to know that I'm proud to have served my country. I come to as many of these types of events as I can to show my support for veterans and folks still serving."

Hammond's son, David William, is currently stationed in Afghanistan serving his second tour overseas. His first was in Iraq. David, like his father, is a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army and works convoy security. "I'm proud of what I did and I'm proud of my son for serving this great country," said Hammond Sr.

Run for the Wall ends their cross-country journey on May 26, two days prior to Memorial Day. Readers seeking more information about the organization can visit www.rftw.org.