Thousands of bikers ride in honor of seven Marine motorcycle club members killed in June


An unidentified veteran kneels at a memorial for the seven bikers killed in a collision last month.

Photo: Paul Hayes/Caledonian-Record via AP

Thousands of motorcyclists from New Hampshire and surrounding states took to the roads Saturday to honor and remember seven people, five of them Marines, who died in a horrific crash on June 21 in Randolph.

As bikes roared into the Gulf service station on 28-Bypass in Manchester Saturday morning, Steve Allison, one of the organizers of the Ride for the Fallen 7 to benefit the families of those killed, said he was overwhelmed by the response. He didn't know many of the riders who turned out, but he said, "These people are my family."

Other motorcyclists met up in their local communities, including Derry, Gorham, Keene, Nashua, Peterborough and Rochester, for the first leg of the ride to Laconia. From there, they planned to head north as a group for a memorial service at the crash site.

What happened two weeks ago, Allison said, was unprecedented. And in response, he was hoping for "an unprecedented memorial."

"This was so horrific," he said. "Let's counter it with something equally as loving, caring and respectful."

"The main thing is to honor these seven fallen souls and show an outpouring of love," he said.

Allison said bikers and veterans are some of the most charitable groups in America. "If there's a chance to do something good, bikers and veterans and veteran bikers are the first ones to answer the call," he said

And that's what members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, a group for Marines and Navy corpsmen, were doing when they were killed two weeks ago. Gathered in the North Country for their annual regional meeting, they were on their way to a charity event in Gorham when a truck pulling a flatbed trailer crossed the yellow line and then swerved back, sending the trailer into a fatal collision with the motorcyclists. The truck driver has been charged with seven counts of negligent homicide.

Ride participants on Saturday were still struggling to make sense of the tragedy. "People go out for a ride, doing a wonderful thing to help others, and they don't come back," said Simon LeComte of Bedford. "It's wrong."

Judy Boyd of Raymond volunteered to help out at the Manchester registration for Saturday's ride, getting riders to sign waivers and marking their hands with the number 7. "There are just not any words" for the grief that has followed the crash, she said — especially after revelations that the 23-year-old truck driver who collided with the Jarheads group should have lost his commercial driver's license but "slipped through so many cracks."

Stacey Raven of Goffstown was also helping out at the registration table. Her son is a Marine Corps veteran. "This was a horrible event," she said. "We needed to come together."

Sandy Caruso is manager of the Gulf station where the Manchester group met up. She said she had "no hesitation whatsoever" when Allison asked if they could meet there for the ride. "It's my honor," she said.

Caruso has two sons in the military, one in the Air Force, the other a Marine. The crash on June 21 has affected everyone, she said. "I haven't talked to one person that doesn't shake their heads about what happened,"' she said.

"These men that died gave up a lot for this country, and then they gave the ultimate," she said. "They're just out enjoying life and they're taken out."

Jay Cadieux of Nashua, who rides an Indian Scout bike, said he's seen a lot more camaraderie among riders since the crash, regardless of which bikes they ride. "We're all giving the wave to each other," he said. "We all seem to be bonding together."

Motorcycle groups as far away as California were planning their own rides Saturday in solidarity with the New Hampshire event. Allison said he's even heard from people in other countries who wanted to support the families of those lost. For veterans and bikers alike, he said, "It's like part of your family's gone."

Before the ride, Allison spoke briefly to those gathered in Manchester. "This has been the biggest honor of my life, to put this together," he said "You are my brothers and sisters. I love every one of you."

And he offered a prayer to God: "Protect us all as we go forward."

As the Manchester group was gathering, dozens of motorcycles passed by. It was the Derry group, heading north, and the waiting riders cheered them on loudly.

About 9:15 a.m., dozens of riders from Nashua pulled up to join the Manchester group for the ride to Laconia. "Mount up!" Allison called out.

And as the group headed out, a few local residents stood by the roadside to cheer them on. Among them was Diane Guimond, who called it a "sad happy day."

She came to drop a donation in the jar and to show support, she said. "I wanted to just wave them off," she said. "It's the least I can do: wave to them and wish them well."

Marie Kohler stood nearby. "It was important for us to be here," she said. "We don't have motorcycles but we had to be part of this somehow."

What can others who aren't participating in the ride do to help? "Keep them in your prayers," Allison said.

He also urged those touched by the crash to send donations to the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, P.O. Box 362, Marlborough, Mass., 01752.

©2019 The New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

SEE NEXT: Driver arrested for plowing into Marine motorcycle club had suspected heroin in his home

A U.S. Marine with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) carries cold weather equipment as he begins to march across the Icelandic terrain October 19, 2018. (U.S. Air Force/Capt. Kylee Ashton)

MONS, Belgium (Reuters) - The United States will send 20,000 troops to Europe next April and May in its biggest military exercises on European soil since the Cold War to underscore Washington's commitment to NATO, a senior allied commander said on Tuesday.

Days after a NATO summit in London at which U.S. President Donald Trump called low-spending European allies "delinquent", U.S. Major General Barre Seguin said the exercises, centered on Germany, will be the largest of their kind in 25 years.

"This really demonstrates transatlantic unity and the U.S. commitment to NATO," Seguin, who oversees allied operations from NATO's military headquarters in Belgium, told Reuters.

Read More Show Less
(DoD photo)

Gold Star family members might finally see an end to the so-called "Widows Tax" thanks to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020.

Read More Show Less

The top Pentagon watchdog has announced it would be investigating all deaths of recruits during initial military training over the past five years, the agency said in a statement last week.

In a Dec. 4 memo, the DoD Inspector General said it was changing the scope of an investigation it had opened on Nov. 18 that was titled Evaluation of Medical Resources and Guidance to Trainers at Recruit Training Centers in the DoD. Its new title, the IG said, would be Evaluation of Medical Protocols and Deaths of Recruits in the DoD.

While its original objective of looking into the medical resources available to recruits would remain the same, the IG said it would now also review all deaths of recruits at military basic training facilities between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2019.

The move comes in the wake of several deaths at basic training facilities over the past year. In April, the Navy announced a safety review after two prospective sailors died at its recruit training facility in Great Lakes, Illinois. Seaman Recruit Kelsey Nobles died after a fitness test that month; Seaman Recruit Kierra Evans also died after the run portion of the fitness test.

In September, an 18-year-old soldier died following a "medical emergency" before a training drill at Fort Jackson, S.C.

Meanwhile, the Marine Corps has disciplined more than 20 Marines over misconduct at its San Diego boot camp since 2017, according to The Washington Post. The action came in the wake of a scandal involving the death of a 20-year-old Muslim recruit named Raheel Siddiqui, who fell 40 feet to his death at the Parris Island training facility, where he and other Muslims were targeted for abuse by their drill instructor (the instructor was later sentenced to 10 years in prison at court-martial).

According to the IG, Pentagon investigators will visit all DoD recruit training facilities and interview personnel from each service's education and training commands. They will also speak with personnel at military medical facilities, the Defense Health Agency, and those assigned at the Military Entrance Processing Command, which does the initial intake for civilians going into military service.

Photo: U.S. Army/Spc. Valencia McNeal

The number of substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct against senior Army officials increased this year, according to an Army Inspector General report recently presented to service leaders and obtained by Task & Purpose.

The document, which lays out broad details of IG investigations undertaken in fiscal year 2019, looks at investigations specific to senior Army officials, which includes "promotable colonels, general officers and senior executives," according to Army spokesman Lt. Col. Emanuel Ortiz.

Read More Show Less
Marines of India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion on the day before their graduation at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego on August 8, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Zachary Beatty)

Editor's Note: This article by Hope Hodge Seck originally appeared on, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Marine Corps senior leaders have begun to express cautious openness to the idea of making the service's boot camps fully co-ed. But if Congress has its way, the service may be pushed toward full integration sooner than expected.

The final conference version of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act includes a provision that would require the service to integrate both its East Coast and West Coast entry-level training facilities within the next eight years.

Read More Show Less