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home : news : north central illinois   April 29, 2016

6/18/2012 4:22:00 AM
Bikers remember fallen soldiers in Marseilles (photo slideshow)


Shaw Pitmann, who served with the 1st Battalion 5th Marines during the Battle of Fallujah, is comforted by his friend as he is overcome with emotion while Mark Murphy plays Amazing Grace during the Illinois Motorcycle Freedom Run ceremony Saturday at the Middle East Conflicts Memorial Wall in Marseilles. Pitmann knew several of those fallen soldiers who are named on the wall.
NewsTribune photos/Anthony Soufflé
+ click to enlarge


Shaw Pitmann, who served with the 1st Battalion 5th Marines during the Battle of Fallujah, is comforted by his friend as he is overcome with emotion while Mark Murphy plays Amazing Grace during the Illinois Motorcycle Freedom Run ceremony Saturday at the Middle East Conflicts Memorial Wall in Marseilles. Pitmann knew several of those fallen soldiers who are named on the wall.

NewsTribune photos/Anthony Soufflé

Vincent Guzman of Chicago pays tribute to his friend, Calvin Harrison during the Illinois Motorcycle Freedom Run on Saturday at the Middle East Conflicts Memorial Wall in Marseilles. The two served together in the same unit, the Army's 7th Special Forces Group.NewsTribune photos/Anthony Soufflé
 
+ click to enlarge

Vincent Guzman of Chicago pays tribute to his friend, Calvin Harrison during the Illinois Motorcycle Freedom Run on Saturday at the Middle East Conflicts Memorial Wall in Marseilles. The two served together in the same unit, the Army's 7th Special Forces Group.
NewsTribune photos/Anthony Soufflé

 

+ view more photos
Illinois Motorcyle Freedom Run 2012
NewsTribune photo/Anthony Souffle
Matthew Baker
Staff Writer



For the tenth year in a row Marseilles was taken over by bikers with a patriotic message.

Thousands of motorcyclists and others descended upon the small city Saturday for the Illinois Motorcycle Freedom Run.

While there was a carnival atmosphere downtown as vendors lined the sidewalks and bands performed in the center of Main Street, the mood was much more somber at the Middle East Conflicts Memorial Wall.

The names of more than 400 American service men and women who died while serving in the Middle East were added this year to the more than 7,000 etched into the stone wall segments along the Illinois River. Most of the deaths the past two years have been in Afghanistan.

“It makes me sad because I know too many of these families,” said a tearful Nancy Pfander of Colorado Springs, Colo.

Pfander, who was part of a group of Gold Star parents who visited the site from Colorado, took a pencil rubbing of her son U.S. Marine Cpl. Kyle W. Powell’s name as she has done at other memorial sites. Among that group of parents were Michelle and Dan Benavidez of Colorado who walked more than 1,000 miles from Fort Carson to Marseilles in memory of their son, Sgt. Kennith Mayne, and to raise awareness of those who lost their lives in the service.

Another Gold Star mother, Tammy Horns of Colorado Springs, proudly displayed a tattoo of her son, Pfc. Christopher Horn, on her right wrist.

“I wanted something that I could see at all times,” Horns said, noting that she always carries pictures of her son with her.

Pfander, whose son died in 2006 in Fallujah, Iraq while on his third deployment, said living with the loss never gets easier, but it is reassuring to know that such monuments exist.

“You don’t want people to forget them because we don’t,” she said.

Along with remembering those who served their country and died in the process, the weekend’s event also remembered Illinois Motorcycle Freedom Run co-founder Tony “Greaseball” Cutrano, who died in a motorcycle crash in May.
“Tony’s vision was like from the winds of heaven,” said fellow co-founder Jerry Kuczera.

Kuczera said Cutrano worked to ensure that every fallen soldier will be remembered. He said freedom run organizers also hope to construct a visitors center at the memorial wall site.

Matthew Baker can be reached at (815) 220-6933, or lasallereporter@newstrib.com.












Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, June 18, 2012
Article comment by: Social Primate

...and the beat goes on..........

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