Ridgecrest is a relatively small California high desert city that is tucked away in the Indian Wells Valley, with a deep and rich military history. And the newly formed American Legion Rider Chapter 684 has been adding to that history in the tradition and mission of the Riders.
In early February, as work was progressing to form the Ridgecrest Chapter, a couple of the founding members were already hard at work coordinating the effort to bring the California Remembering Our Fallen memorial exhibit to the city over September 11. This exhibit memorializes the 710 Californians who made the ultimate sacrifice since 9/11 in the Global War on Terror. By having the exhibit in Ridgecrest, it will be a perfect complement to the city's traditional March of 1,000 flags, and the 9/11 Candlelight Vigil.
Immediately after receiving approval to operate from the ALR Department of California’s Executive Committee, Chapter 684 began working with the Ridgecrest City Council to find a facility to display the exhibit. It wasn’t long before the city enthusiastically donated the use of the Kerr McGee Community Center for the two weeks the memorial exhibit is in town.
With the chapter less than two months old, it hosted a very successful June Poker Run that brought in over 75 riders, who willingly endured the 110-degree desert heat for this cause. This Poker Run, plus donations from the community raised over $4,000 for the Remembering Our Fallen foundation, and was used to not only cover the cost for bringing the exhibit to Ridgecrest, but will be used to help construct more exhibits nationwide.
But the members of 684 were not content to stop there, and continued with the work of planning and coordinating an escort ride to bring the ROF into town, with the honor and respect it deserves. Over the weekend of August 29-30, Chapter 684 coordinated with the local Patriot Guard Riders and other local ride groups to complete a 450-mile round trip ride to San Diego. With 49 bikes and a chase vehicle, they rendezvoused with the USMC Liaison and Transport team, and form the largest escort that the California exhibit has ever seen.
And after mustering up a working party to help the US Marine liaison set up the exhibit, Chapter 684 was able to proudly present the donation check to the ROF foundation.
The chapter is already working towards next year, where they will be bringing the ROF exhibit back to Ridgecrest for the annual 9/11 observances in 2016. With more time available for planning, and with the experience gained from this year, they are anticipating that Ridgecrest will again show the tremendous amount honor and respect that this small desert city has for our veterans, and those who have fallen in the service of this great nation.