When they rode in the Nevada Lincoln Highway Days Parade in late August, a group of Story County bikers was doing what they do best — paying tribute to veterans and riding.
The American Legion Riders of Lafayette Post 59 out of Story City are a relatively new group. So new, in fact, that anyone who joins by January of 2018 will be considered a charter member, and the group would love to have more charter members from the surrounding communities.
“We started this group in March,” said Stan Hyer, president of the Story City group of riders. Hyer, born and raised in Ames, and his Ames High classmate Ron Borich, 60, also a longtime resident of Ames after moving there when he was in seventh grade, talked about this new riding group before the group’s monthly meeting at the Legion Hall in Story City a few weeks back.
Previously members of another Legion riding group, Hyer and Borich say starting this group based out of Story City will hopefully help out the Legion in the small community. “We like that we can help a smaller Legion and hopefully draw more members into a new group,” Borich said.
So far, Lafayette 59 has 20 members in its new riding group. Those members are from Ames, Story City, Nevada and even Florida, so far. The Florida member is a person who comes back to Story County at various times and rides with them, they explain. “We are willing to take members from anywhere,” Borich said. “You can belong to any other Legion and still belong to this riders group.” Annual dues for the group are $20 per person.
To belong to the American Legion Riders, one must be a veteran, or be a son or daughter. Both Hyer and his own son are not veterans, but are the son and grandson of one. “I do this to honor the gentlemen and women who have served our country,” Adam Hyer, Stan’s son, said.
Stan Hyer said that because he’s not a veteran, but is the son of one, “it’s very heartwarming that it means so much to the families,” when the riders show up to help at a funeral. And he said the group’s help at funerals can be anything from escorting a procession to providing a flag line.
Helping with funerals of veterans is just one of the things that American Legion Riders do. “We’d like local and area funeral homes to know they can call us,” Borich said. Other things that Legion Riders do or have done include helping escort the traveling freedom wall across Iowa, escorting buses for trips of veterans to Washington, D.C.; going to the state Veterans Home and other nursing homes to give rides; partipating in parades; and participating in many fundraising events and rides.
“We’re open to a lot of things,” Borich said. He noted that group also did an Alzheimer’s ride recently.
When they’re not out helping others, the Legion Riders are enjoying gathering with each other. They meet three Thursday evenings a month, during the May to end-of-October riding season, for dinner rides; and then on the other Thursday of each month, they have their meeting at the Legion Hall.
Ole Skaar Jr., of Story City, said he enjoys the group very much. “Because we’re fellow veterans (or sons of veterans), it’s a camaraderie that transcends just about everything and we get to do good deeds.” Alan Beck, commander of Post 59, agrees that the camaraderie is good because they all have a bond, being veterans or children of veterans.
John Valline of Nevada said he belongs to the group to support two very important things: “God and country.”
When it comes to the dinner rides, Tom Parham of Ames said the group is good at finding the best places to eat. “To me, one of the best was when we overloaded the kitchen at Our Place in Stanhope.” A little background, it was the restaurant’s first week in business when the riders stopped in and gave the restaurant more than it bargained for that night. But Parham said even though they had to wait a little longer to be served than at some restaurants, it was very much worth it, as the food was great.
Those interested in joining the American Legion Riders of Lafayette Post 59 are welcome to check the group out. Women, it should be noted, are also included. The group presently has two female members, and a number of wives of members, who are associate members.
For more information, call 515-733-4403.