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05-19-03: Harleys roll with a purpose into Mendon to assist missing Vietnam War vets' cause
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 Lima.


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