The 19th annual Lori Piestewa Navajo Hopi Honor Run brings 150 riders to honor fallen heroes | Navajo Hopi observer
FLAGSTAFF, Arizona – The Navajo Hopi Honor Riders commemorate all Gold Star families and fallen heroes at the Piestewa Residence on August 21 during the 19th annual Navajo Hopi Honor Run, which was attended by approximately 150 riders.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions on the Navajo nation, NHHR board members decided to consolidate the four-day event into a one-day trip from Window Rock to Flagstaff. Drivers typically meet up with Gold Star families in the Navajo and Hopi communities. That year the ride ended with an outdoor gathering to remember all of the fallen heroes by pronouncing their names and a moment of silence.
The Navajo Hopi Honor Riders gathered at Window Rock Veteran’s Memorial Park early on the morning of August 21, where the President of the Navajo Nation, Jonathan Nez, greeted the riders.
Also in attendance were the Honorable JoAnn Jayne, Chief Justice of the Navajo Nation, and Vince James, Delegate of the Navajo Nation Council from Ganado, Arizona.
“Every year I see the drivers taking part. It makes me humble to know that they travel many miles to ride for Lori and all of our fallen warriors and that they will never be forgotten, ”said NHHR President Bobby Martin, speaking of all riders from all over the United States and the Diversity of military organizations; such as Nation of Patriots, American Legion Riders, Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, Flags of Honor Escorts, Run for the Wall and Wind & Fire MC.
That year Dan and Becki Smith were selected by the Nation of Patriots to lead the Honor Run. Dan is the regional commander of NOP Arizona and a US Air Force Vietnam veteran.
“When Becki and I were selected as lead riders for the Lori Piestewa Honor Ride 2021, I was absolutely impressed by the honor we were given. We’re all in this together with common goals, and all we’re doing is helping the veterans, men and women who have served this country so honorably, ”said Dan.
The brisk morning began with the sound of motorcycles rolling into the capital of the Navajo Nation, made up of veterans, civilians, men and women of all ages. Some riders participated for the first time, while others rode annually. Not everyone rode a motorcycle, many volunteers arrived in vehicles to help with registration, be part of the chase team, and help sell goods.
“As an American Legion Rider, a program within the American Legion. It follows under our four pillars; Supporting veterans, their families, children and youth, and promoting patriotism and Americanism in the community, ”said Alfredo Gomez, a US infantryman from Belen, New Mexico. “So it is a great honor to represent and promote the American Legion with an event like this with the same intentions, and they are doing a great job.”
Gomez is also part of a program called Flags of Honor Escorts, coordinated by Air Force First Sergeant David McElroy.
Gomez is the keeper of the “For the Fallen Flag”, which has traveled the country three times to support events and various monuments such as the Vietnam Wall in Washington DC, the Pentagon, the Twin Towers Memorial in New York City, the Flight 93 Memorial Visit in Pennsylvania and the Middle East Conflict Wall in Marseille, Illinois.
The latest flag to be introduced is the Navajo Hopi Honor Flag, which was developed with the nonprofit Navajo Hopi Honor Riders, Inc.
On August 21, the Navajo Hopi flag of honor was escorted by Army SPC Joseph Hudson to the residence of gold star mother Percy Piestewa and later given to Army veteran Ted Martello.
“It is always an honor to ride with NHHR and I am honored to be part of the NHHR family,” said Martello.
During a layover at the Hopi Veterans Center in Kykotsmovi, the drivers were joined by Hopi Vice Chairman Clark Tenakhongva, the American Legion Lori Piestewa Post # 80, Hopi Royalty Rose Marie Honanie, Princess, and Kaitlyn Bailey Hough, 2nd Attendant and Geno Talas. Greetings, Director of Hopi Veterans Services.
Lori Ann Piestewa of the US Army was part of the Hopi tribe. In her honor, the American Legion Post # 80 was renamed Lori Piestewa Post # 80 on November 10, 2011.
“As a family, we believe Lori’s purpose was to bring people together in peace and unity,” said Percy Piestewa as she greeted the Horsemen at her Flagstaff home. “We have met so many wonderful people over the years. We are so blessed with the friendships, the support. I thank each and every one of you. “
Gold Star mothers present included; Leslie Laselute, Virginia Cambridge and Percy Piestewa.
Brandon Whiterock, who was only four when he lost his mother, Lori, is now a young adult at 22. He expressed his thanks for the bikers and their commitment to the honor.
“You are all here for a reason, the weather conditions you ride through, countless miles and hours of driving, I just want to thank you guys for coming out and remembering all of the Gold Star families and fallen heroes”, said Whiterock.
Fallen Heroes KIA since 2003; Army SPC Lori A. Piestewa, Army PFC Harry N. Shondee, Army SGT Lee Duane Todacheene, USMC LCPL Quinn A. Keith, USMC LCPL Kevin B. Joyce, Army Cpl Lyle Cambridge, Army SGT Marshall A. Westbrook, Army SGT Clifton J Yazzie, Army SGT Christopher N. Gonzalez, Army SGT Troy O. Tom, USMC LCPL Alejandro J. Yazzie, Army SGT Christopher J. Moon, Army SGT 1st Class James E. Thode, and USMC SSGT Jonathan D. Davis.
The Horsemen particularly thanked the Apache County Sheriff’s Office, the Navajo Nation Police – OPVP Executive Protection, Navajo Parks and Recreation, the Office of the President and Vice Presidents, Hopi Vice Chairman, American Legion Lori Piestewa Post # 80, Hopi Veterans Center, and many others other people who donated or volunteered to make the honor run possible.
All motorcycle escorts requested by military families are shared on NHHR Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and website.
The group is working on the upcoming Gold Star Family Day, which will be held on the last Sunday in September. Also follow the Navajo Hopi Honor Flag through FOHE as it is currently in use in New Mexico and Colorado.
For more information on Honor Riders, please visit www.NavajoHopiHonorRiders.com.