GRAND CHUTE - If you heard a roar in the air, it wasn't thunder.
On Friday's overcast day, more than 1,200 people took theirmotorcycles on a ride from La Crosse to Green Bay, to honor the1,161 Wisconsin service men and women who died in Vietnam - morethan half of them age 21 or younger.
For many riding in the event, the revs of engines weren’tthe sounds of a motorcycle. They were the sounds of brotherhood,camaraderie and history in the making.
The honor ride payed tribute to vets and to those who died inVietnam. The more than 1,200 riders said it is well over due.
“It's 40 years too late, 30 years too late, but thecamaraderie with my brothers and my vet friends, I wouldn't miss itfor the world,” said a Vietnam Veteran who calls himself“Mountain Man”.
“It's a long time coming for me, it's 42 years and weweren't very well respected when we got home,” said VietnamVeteran Robert Thompson.
Some of the veterans said they couldn't wait to get theiruniform off when they returned from war all those decades ago. Theysaid they were spit on, had cans thrown at them, and were called“baby killers”. It’s a memory that leaves a sourtaste in their mouth. But they said this event is starting to makeit right.
“See the public waving at you, a thank you now that wenever really got when we came back,” said Larry Gaffney.
But these veterans say the ride is about more than just gettinghonored. It's about paying their respects and representing morethan 1,200 Wisconsinites who died in Vietnam.
“40 years ago, me and my best friend we were supposed toleave Vietnam together,” said Guy Svehlek. “He gotkilled right before he was supposed to come back so I came backalone and I'm making the ride for him.”
“I'm here to ride for a neighbor and a friend that I grewup with,” said Peter Zielke. “He got killed and Istayed alive so this is my chance to ride for him, and I wish hewere here.”
But while physically, those loved ones aren't riding, theveteran’s say they are here in their hearts.
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