FOR HOMELESS VETERANS: GARY RISHFORTH, SR.
Vietnam Veteran Is Riding His Horse To Raise Awareness About the Plight of
Gary Rishforth, Sr., is a Vietnam veteran who
knows what it means to be homeless. He's been there, done that. He also knows
what it means to be responsible for the lives of fellows soldiers. Gary served
in Vietnam for 18 months as an infantryman in the U. S. Marine Corps. He was at
Khe Sahn after the seige was lifted, and fought in the Battle of Hue City. Just
as he cared for his friends in Vietnam, Gary cares about his fellow veterans who
do not have a regular place to live. "I want to help them any way I can. That's
what this is all about," Rishforth recently told a reporter for the Medford Mail
Gary plans to ride
14,000 miles during a three-to-four-year journey that will take him through
every state except Hawaii. On July 14, 2005, COVO board members Rob Bryce and
Stu Steinberg picked up Gary and his horses near Sweethome and brought him back
to the Bend area where he attended several functions that COVO organized on his
behalf. On Friday, July 15, a reception was held in Gary's honor at VFW Post
1643 in Bend. We were honored that Medal of Honor winner Bob Maxwell, a member
of the VFW Post, came by to meet Gary. When Gary rold Bob that he was "honored"
to meet him, Bob said, "No, the honor is all mine. I think what you're doing is
a great thing." Senator Bend Westlund also attended and added his signature to
the American flag that Gary is carrying with him. At the end of the night, COVO
presented Gary with $146.00 that was raised during the reception.
On Saturday, July 16, Gary and COVO members
staged a "Ride for Homeless Veterans" through downtown Bend. Senator Westlund
and Christy Meyer, a local TV reporter, joined us on the ride. Along the route,
people came up to us and donated another $50.00 to help Gary in his efforts.
Gary decided that he would use that $50.00 to become a three-year member of High
Desert Chapter 820, Vietnam Veterans of America, the group that founded COVO. As
a result, COVO made a commitment to see that other VVA chapters around the
country help Gary along his route as he travels through their areas. The ride in
Bend was so successful, that COVO and Gary will stage a second ride on Saturday,
August 6 in Prineville. Since we have more time to advertise, and with the help
of the Crook County American Legion and Auxiliary, many more riders will
participate. The riders and marchers will make their way to the POW/MIA
monuments in Ochoco Creek Park for a flag folding ceremony and prayers for our
POWs and MIAs, with a special prayer for our homeless brothers and sisters. VVA
Chaptr 820 Chaplain, Doug Cole, will lead the ceremony. When the ride is over,
the local Legion Post and Auxiliary will hold a cookout and several fund-raising
events at the Prineville Veterans Hall.