One thing that helps keep me centered is being invited to participate in humbling events. I am a patriot and fully understand that if not for the “American way of life”, we would not enjoy so much that we take for granted. On this past September 11th, I was honored
to be a part of the “Rolling Thunder Follow the Flag” ride. Several things made this a very memorable event for me. First it marked “Patriot Day” and a day in infamy that we as Americans will never forget. Next, it was a day that brought together people from
different parts of the biker community. Third was how we paid homage to the members of our Armed Forces and Public Safety men & women that stand between citizens and evil. Fourth, but not least, we paid respects and brotherhood with a wounded
warrior Romy Camargo. Romy’s unit was pinned down in a fire fight in Afghanistan, and without hesitation, he scrambled fromthe ground and up into the turret of a vehicle mounted machine gun to lay suppression fire. An enemy bullet caught him in the neck causing catastrophic spinal injury. He was our guest of honor and it was an honor to meet him.
We gathered early the morning of the 11th at The Ride Factory in Ybor City. This group known as “Ride Factory One” designated the flag riders escorting flags flown at ground zero to the City of Palmetto. The flags are part of a year-long patriotic program which
will have them returned to the National 911 Museum for next year’s 10th anniversary. Our group consisted of riders from the sponsoring bike clubs and was led by Brigadier General Bob Holmes, USAF Ret.. There were no attitudes by anyone, just the brotherhood
of riders coming together for our country. General Holmes and General Dave Scott, US Army Special Forces, Ret., who are part of the Post 911 Foundation which helped organize
the ride and the flag program, were professional and detail oriented, but very approachable. Our ride Captains, Brian Keeth and Ed “Fast Eddie” McGurk, did
a great job keeping us safe and on schedule.
The flag riders left The Ride Factory at 6:50AM headed for Palmetto. Once there we were escorted by fire and police units to the ceremony. We walked down a path lined with citizens saluting, cheering and waving flags. An honor guard presented Gen. Holmes with one of the Ground Zero Flags and in turn he presented it to the Mayor of Palmetto. We were excused by the Mayor in order to get back to Tampa for the next ceremony at
Tampa Fire Station #15. We were met by more riders and our honored guest, Romy. The station holds a memorial ceremony each year at the exact same time as the collapse of the second WTC tower. We then mounted up and on this leg of the ride, we included
Romy in a specially built wheelchair sidecar, driven by General Scott. While recovering in the hospital Romy talked of riding and missing the road. He can now take short rides in his custom bike. We made the ride down Bayshore and again were greeted by more flag
wavers along the way. The destination was the Tampa Convention Center where General Holmes presented a flag to Mayor Pam Iori. Tribute speeches were made and we again mounted up and made the trip to Valrico to “The Pole Barn” for an afternoon of bikes, music, food and drink, and more heartfelt speeches.
I want to thank all of the sponsoring clubs who came together under one club banner,
The American Flag. Recognize these clubs as patriots; Special Forces MC, Steel
Swine, Tampa Heat, Iron Pigs MC, Defenders MC, Rolling Thunder 11, Nam Knights MC, The Blue Knights FL. 27, and the Untouchables MC. In additton we had unbelievable
support from The Ride factory, as well as GOFAR Magazine, AMVETS, Bikers Bay, “Party Party” our Pole Barn Mistress of Ceremony, Police & Fire escorts from the cities of Palmetto and Tampa, and the list goes on. Please forgive me if I let you out. After all, I intended the article to be about the humbling experience and not about swelled heads. I was truly humbled when I was allowed to “Follow the Flag”. I was honored to
meet a war hero like Romy who still fights the battle everyday of his life. I was impressed at the outpouring of the community that still believes that God Blesses America. I was in brotherhood with the stories from New York police and firemen telling about the day
they rushed into the collapsing WTC and lost their brother and sister officers. As a police officer I can relate to the stories of sacrifice, I am very respectful of what they went through, thankful it was not me, and very grateful that there were true America Heroes
on the line.