American Legion members, riders and supporters met on a cool Saturday morning for the 4th annual CW2 Bryan Nichols and Sgt. Derrick Lutters Memorial Ride — a motorcycle event designed to remember all who have given their life fighting for this country.
The group of 70 riders made a loop of the area, beginning in Hays, heading to Palco for a memorial service for Nichols, and on to Ransom to remember Lutters. They traveled on to Ness City where a remembrance ceremony for everybody in western Kansas killed in the war on terror is held at the Veterans Memorial.
“It means so much to remember Bryan and Derrick and to their families,” said Lynette Stenzel, member of the American Legion Riders. “Derrick’s dad said ‘remember you are not doing this just for Derrick, but for all of those who died.’
“It makes us all stop and think and remember.”
The event started four years ago when the Ness City American Legion hosted the “Remembering the Fallen” exhibit, said Stenzel.
A ride to the graves of those who had died was added, and participants thought it was a great event to remember those who had sacrificed their lives.
It has become an annual event.
Bryan Nichols died Aug. 6, 2011 serving in Afghanistan. He was a helicopter pilot who loved the motorcycle that he bought new in 2008.
Doug Nichols, Bryan Nichols’ father, rides his son’s Harley-Davidson motorcycle in the event. He is keeping the motorcycle for Bryon’s son, Braydon.
In 2009, Bryan and Doug rode their motorcycles to Washington D.C. In 2012, after Bryan’s death, Doug and his other two sons rode the motorcycle to Washington D.C. to the Vietnam Memorial. Doug served in 1968 in Vietnam.
The Nichols’ family has a long history of serving in the military.
“It’s a tradition, and the older generation was more that way under the threat of Germany,” Doug said. “We’re just a patriotic family.
“It’s pretty special,” that the soldiers are honored.
Derrick Lutters died in 2005 in Iraq.
The ride is significant to those who participate.
“It’s just to honor those who have given their life to serve our country,” said David Maier, who served in the military. “I don’t see any end to the ride at all. It’s open to the public, and every year, it gets bigger and bigger.”
Maier said supporters came from Kansas City to participate.
“Its got a big pull,” he said. “Patriotism is not dead. Here’s a show of it.”
Brian Legleiter, director of the Hays American Legion Riders, served with Nichols in the Hays Army Reserves. He feels like it’s a way to give back to the families to these two soldiers.
“I want to keep it going as long as I possibly can,” Legleiter said. “It’s refusing to let the memory of these men and women die. It needs to be remembered.”