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The Highground Plans 10th Annual Honor Ride and New Memorial to Recognize “The Lost 74″

Plans are underway for the 10th Annual Honor Ride Motorcycle Rally and Ceremony to be held on Memorial Day, May 25th.  

Executive Director, Chris Pettis shares, “we continue to make plans amidst the COVID-19 virus and our hope is to honor those plans while respecting the need for safety of the people—our community, volunteers and supporters. If we need to adjust our plans, we will.”  

Part of that planning will include the dedication of a new memorial at the Park recognizing “The Lost 74”. This memorial will pay tribute to the 74 sailors who died at sea on June 3, 1969 aboard the USS Frank Evans, specifically to the three Wisconsin sailors—James R. Cmeyla, 24, of Luxemburg, Michael A. Orlikowski, 28, of Milwaukee, and Jon W. Thomas, 22, of Delavan. The 74 perished when the USS Frank Evans split in half after colliding with the HMAS Melbourne, an Australian carrier, during a training exercise.  

The Highground is honored to work with the Evans Association and to have USS Frank Evans survivor Terry Vjere at the Park for the tribute dedication. 

The Highground will honor the fallen by reading the names of those who died in action as well as those missing in action. During the reading, The Highground’s replica Liberty Bell will be rung in their honor as riders from across the state are making their way to The Highground. The riders will stop at the American Legion #73 in Neillsville where they will join the public to try their luck at the annual Honor Ride Raffle and Silent Auction. The entire group will then continue on to The Highground to arrive prior to the 3pm Memorial Day Ceremony.  

The Honor Ride is a key fundraiser as it allows The Highground to continue its mission to Honor, Educate and Heal. The Highground continues to support and serve our Veteran community with events, Veterans Weekend Retreats, PTSD education, outreach, and more. This year’s ride will have nine different starting points: Eau Claire, Neillsville, Medford, Appleton, King/Waupaca, Wisconsin Rapids, Reedsburg, Richland Center, and Tomah.

The Park plaza and trails continue to be open for visitors. The Gift Shop and Museum are currently closed as The Highground recognizes Governor Evers “Safer at Home” mandate. 

For more information about the ride, visit thehighgroundhonorride.com, call Meranda at  715-743-4224, or send an email to events@thehighground.us.