On Saturday, East Enders and tourists alike will gather for the 10th Hamptons Solider Ride, an annual event that brings veterans from across the country, as well as the United Kingdom, and citizens out for a cycle ride in honor of a local fallen hero.
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Soldier Ride is a unique cycling opportunity, part of the Wounded Warrior Project, for wounded veterans to use cycling and the bonds of service to overcome physical, mental or emotional wounds.
Hamptons Soldier Ride is in honor of Sag Harbor native Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter, who was killed in action at the age of 19 on April 22, 2008 in Ramadi, Iraq.
Haerter, a rifleman with the 1st Battalion 9th Marines, known as the "Walking Dead," was guarding an entry control point, along with fellow marine Corporal Jonathan T. Yale, when a large truck accelerated toward them, careening off the protective serpentine. All signals and flares warning the driver to stop were ignored, so Haerter and Yale opened fire until the 2000-pound blast claimed their lives.
"I think this really helps bring the community together," said Haerter's mother, JoAnn Lyles, of the ride. "It's really great also because it brings more awareness to the public," she added. "And Jordan's tribute starts at 10:30 AM. That's the nice part for me."
Soldier Ride is the brainchild of East Hampton resident Chris Carney, a former bartender of the Stephen Talkhouse, who wanted to raise money for wounded veterans.
Carney cycled from the east to west coasts to raise money and awareness for injured soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. He noted during his travels that seeing wounded veterans along the way getting their inspiration back and the feeling that they can do anything was "more than he could ask for."
Saturday's Soldier Ride features two 5K walks in Amagansett and Sag Harbor. Both start at 9 AM. The bicycle ride starts at Ocean View Farm in Amagansett and continues west through East Hampton and Sag Harbor and then back again. And that's just the 30-mile ride. The 60-mile ride features the same route, but continues out to Montauk, and then back to the farm.
Registration and packet pick-up starts at 7 AM. A kick-off celebration at Ocean View Farm is at 8 AM. The ride begins at 9 AM (walkers will begin once the cyclists depart). The tribute to Haerter is at 10:30 AM and the Lap of Heroes in Sag Harbor is at 11 AM. From noon to 4 PM there's a community picnic at Ocean View Farm with "Rock the Farm" starting at 6 PM.
It's $25 for cyclists 21 and under and for 5K walkers. $50 for over 21 cyclists.
In September, there will be another Soldier Ride on the North Fork for Joseph Theinert, a graduate of Shelter Island High School and member of the 1st squadron, 71st Calvalry Regiment. Theinert was killed in Kandahar, Afghanistan on June 4, 2010 when an improvised explosive device was detonated near his dismounted patrol. It was his first tour of duty.