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|05-19-03: Harleys roll with a purpose into Mendon to
assist missing Vietnam War vets' cause
|By TIMOTHY COX
The Daily Standard
MENDON - About 500 people - most of them riding Harley Davidson
motorcycles - came together Saturday to raise money and increase awareness about U.S.
military men still unaccounted for in Vietnam.
The Chained Eagles, a regional Vietnam War veterans organization that
devotes its efforts and resources to those missing or captured in the war, held its eighth
annual poker run fund-raiser. Jim and Mary Godwin, who operate the Harley Davidson
dealership and museum in Mendon, hosted the event, allowing their land to be filled with
hundreds of Harleys and some military equipment like an armored Humvee and a helicopter.
The day of activities also included a flyover by a squadron of Air
National Guard F-16 Falcon fighter jets from Toledo. The Chained Eagles also had a version
of the Vietnam War Memorial wall on display inscribed with the names of Ohio men who died
or or are unaccounted for in southeast Asia.
The Chained Eagles were hoping to raise $2,000-$3,000, Rex Schoonover,
a trustee of the organization said. More than 450 Harleys eventually fanned out across the
county to participate in the poker run.
The Chained Eagles support a number of POW-MIA advocacy groups,
Schoonover said. One such organization serves families of those still unaccounted for
nearly 30 years after military operations ceased in Vietnam, he said. Another group has
filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government under the Freedom of Information Act to gain
access to documents they believe will prove the government has knowledge of American POWs
in southeast Asia.
About 2,000 men still are listed as missing or captured from the war.
Schoonover of Lima said he believes there still could be American men alive in prison
camps there, but added, "Time is running out."
But whether any lawsuit, investigation or other action turns up any live American
war prisoners, families of those lost still deserve answers, Schoonover said.
"Even if we don't find them alive, recovering any remains is necessary
for these families to have closure," Schoonover said.
Even records of lost soldiers' fates could help families bring finality
to their long ordeal, he said.
Chained Eagles trustees praised the Godwins for hosting the event.
"It's all thanks to Jim and Mary. Other veterans organizations
might let us use their facilities, but we wouldn't have the space to do this at most
places," said Gary McCoy, a trustee from Wapakoneta.
The Chained Eagles organization is not restricted to military veterans.
"All you have to do is believe in the cause," Schoonover said.
The group's four trustees are all Vietnam war veterans. Schoonover was
in the Army, and McCoy is a former Marine. Trustee Jim Rainsburg of Kenton also was a
Marine and Trustee Doug Howard of Wapakoneta served in the Navy.
Military vehicles for Saturday's display came from the 137th Ohio
National Guard aviation unit based in Columbus and the 148th infantry division based in
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