HELENA – Friends and family gathered at Memorial Park for the 10th annual Memorial Torch Motorcycle Ride on Tuesday evening. The Ride made its way from Eugene, Oregon.
The torch was held this year in honor of Army Captain Michael MacKinnon, who was killed in action during the Iraq War in October 2005.
Captain MacKinnon was a Montana native, and the tribute to him and his family is part of a 22-day, 4,000-mile, cross-country ride.
“Tribute to Fallen Soldiers Northwest” is a non-profit organization based out of Eugene.
Their journey has taken them across the states, honoring a total of 65 service members, traveling through 17 different states.
Warren Williamson, the Executive Director, spoke to MTN about the importance of the Memorial Torch Motorcycle Ride, stating, “You know, every day to us is special when we get a chance to honor our fallen heroes, every day. From the moment we leave Eugene, Oregon to the moment we get through National Cemetery. And that’s what this is all about,” said Williamson.
Williamson continued, “That we make this cross-country journey to make sure that no one forgets our fallen heroes including Michael. In this tiny, little, community, of Helena, Montana, you can see the outpouring love and support for Michael. And that’s what we are all about, to make sure these folks know and the family remember and know Michael is not forgotten even though he was killed in action in 2005, so that’s what we do.”
Since Tribute to the Fallen Soldiers Northwest has started, they have honored over 800 fallen service members of all branches.
Williamson told MTN what the most important thing they take away from the tribute, stating, “We do this to make sure that we don’t forget–because it’s so important…the number one thing that families say to us, and even Gale and Laura (Captain MacKinnon’s two sisters), said it today; is that they’re scared that people are gonna forget and that don’t want them to forget and that’s why we do what we do; to make sure we say their names out loud and that’s important.”