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Motorcycle ride honors local veterans who died in war
It was a beautiful day for a ride.
About 50 riders showed up in Orland Saturday for the Sunburn Run, a motorcycle ride to raise money for a memorial to honor the town’s veterans who died while serving their country.
Creating a memorial to Orland’s fallen heroes was the brainchild of Lori Moreno, whose son, Marine Corps Sgt. Harvey Parkerson III, was killed in action in Iraq on Aug. 18, 2004.
Born in 1977, Parkerson graduated from Orland High School in 1996. A special memorial for him was set up in the multipurpose room at Orland High School, where Sunburn Run participants finished their ride and had lunch.
Joining the ride was Parkinson’s son Matthew, 11.
Sponsored by Orland’s VIPS – Volunteers in Police Service – the lunch included barbecued hot dogs and side dishes.
Tables were set with small U.S. flags and tent cards baring the names of 68 people from Orland who died during World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.
A memorial display included three commemorative flags presented to the families of military personnel who gave their lives and a copy of “Orland Patriots,” a book about veterans from Orland who died in battle. The book was written by Orland historian Gene Russell and illustrated by Jay Russell. It was open for people to sign at the event.
Host Bob Pasero, Orland’s police chief and a motorcycle enthusiast, organized the ride. He told the participants and others who attended lunch that by Flag Day 2014, a permanent memorial in the shape of an eternal flame will be erected outside Orland’s Memorial Hall. Leading up to it will be a brick walkway featuring the names of veterans from all over the country, he said.
Chuck Taylor of Redding, the national chaplain of the Missing in America Project, said the organization searches for veterans who have died and been forgotten.
“Urns are sitting on shelves in mortuaries all across the country,” he said. “Our job is to locate these vets, identify them and give them a final resting place.”
Choking back tears, he added that many veterans die homeless or alone.
In May, Taylor and several other MIAP members took the remains of three veterans to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., where they were buried May 29.
About 40 people left Redding on motorcycles with the remains. Taylor said that during the eight-day trip, riders – as many as 500 in some places – joined to ride through their states as a show of support.
“It was an awesome trip,” Taylor said.
Also attending was U.S. Army recruiter Sgt. Christopher Morlang, who served a year in Afghanistan. “It’s good to know people are doing this for our fallen soldiers,” he said.
When the speeches were done, the room fell silent as Al Quentel, Sherry Scalvini and Karen Richley read the 68 names – so far – that will go on the memorial.
One of those names belongs to an Orland man who served during World I. Alfred John Foster is buried in Flanders Field in Waregem, Belgium.