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Though all three routes of this year’s Run For The Wall start well south of Oregon, some Central Oregon motorcyclists are still taking part in the cross-country ride to Washington, D.C.

A group of six bikers on five motorcycles left the Hub City Bar & Grill in Redmond on May 7, with plans to meet up for the southern stretch of the 31st annual ride to honor veterans Wednesday in Ontario, California. They plan to ride with more than 600 other bikers across the desert of California, Arizona and New Mexico, into West Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. They will then head north to meet with all 1,600 bikers to ride into Washington on May 24.

While Cliff Brumels of Redmond served in the Army from 1974-88, not all the riders were veterans.

“Even though we recognize the fallen MIAs and POWs, this is a ride for anybody,” he said. Brumels planned to meet up with more bikers in Weed, California, before heading to the southern part of the state for the official ride. After his initial ride last year, he is back as an assistant platoon leader, making sure a group of 35-to-40 riders stays together.

“Safety is paramount at all times while on the ride,” he said.

Brumels is carrying 50 placards with photos and information of Vietnam veterans who were prisoners of war or missing in action. He will place them on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall on the National Mall.

Riders make regular stops at veterans memorials and hospitals, as well as to speak to students at schools, Brumels said. They also meet up with families of the missing.

“The communities are very much entrenched in the ride,” he said. “They make us feel very welcome in their towns and cities.”

The events in Washington continue until May 26, Brumels said. Oregon Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, as well as Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, were expected to meet with the veterans from the state.

Among the riders who wasn’t in the military is Rusty Mann of Redmond, who is riding with his wife, Shauna. But he has a patriotic background as a member of the Patriot Guard Riders, a group that helps out with military funerals, escorting the fallen to their resting place.

The Manns planned to first ride up to Seattle, where they were to pick up an Alaska Airlines fallen soldier cart, which they will take to the Phoenix airport. According to the airline’s website, the carts are used to ensure that remains of fallen soldiers are treated with respect and dignity.

Rusty looked forward to his first Run For The Wall.

“It’s something we’ve talked about for a lot of years,” he said. “This just worked out so we could do it.”

Mann said businesses like Hub City, which open outside regular hours to allow riders to get something to eat or drink and use the restroom, are helpful to the riders.

— Reporter: 541-548-2186,