Motorcycle group helps tour supporting servicemembers

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Rick Romero of Cuba, N.M. adjusts his Patriot Guard Riders flag outside of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3280 Monday afternoon. The Patriot Guard Riders helped escort the “Campaign 99” tour through New Mexico during its nine-day trip to Washington, D.C.

Kevin Wilson

Reaching the other 99 percent is a time-consuming process, so much that Code of Support organizers are losing track of time themselves.

“It’s Monday,” Alan Salisbury said, “So we must be in Clovis.”

Clovis — and more specifically, a flag-laden Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 3280 — was one of the final New Mexico hosts to the Code of Support tour, rolling through 11 states and often escorted by Patriot Guard Riders on the way to the Pentagon.

The McLean, Va.-based Code of Support, said Salisbury, a retired Army major general and the foundation’s founder, is on a cross-country trip to promote Campaign 99 — an attempt to move the 99 percent of Americans not serving in the military from a position of simply caring to one of support and involvement.

The tour started the trip Saturday near Camp Pendleton in California. At each state, Salisbury said, the scroll gets passed to another state organization of the Patriot Guard Riders, and the number of motorcycles escorting the tour changes with each stop as riders join and withdraw.

About 38 riders arrived at the post in Clovis, with more than two dozen of them Clovis riders who joined the Campaign 99 tour in Albuquerque.

“We had joined everyone around 8:30, 9:30 in Albuquerque,” said Dennis Chalker of Clovis. “Great ride, absolutely beautiful weather and flags waving everywhere.”

Campaign 99 is based on the premise, Salisbury said, that 1 percent of Americans currently are fighting wars for the other 99 percent — including nearly a full decade in Afghanistan and/or Iraq since the Sept. 11 attacks.

“That 1 percent has a code of conduct,” Salisbury said. “They promise to give their life if necessary. We asked our foundation, ‘What do the 99 percent owe them for that?’”

Their answer is the code, which they hope will garner one million signatures. Available in full at codeofsupport.org, it asks signers to be committed to recognition and support of the military, act to ensure they are never unnecessarily sent into harm’s way, provide for veterans, respect faithful service and to fight to free those captured in war or missing in action.

The tour carries a capsule with the code, which will be handed to Adm. Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11 — the tenth anniversary of terrorist attacks.

“The Patriot Guard Riders are treating the scroll with such reverence,” said Kristy Kaufmann, who married into the military months before the Sept. 11 attacks. “You have Gold Star Wives, you have Gold Star Mothers. They want to touch it, kiss it, have some physical connection.”

The goal, Kaufmann said, is one million signatures submitted by Memorial Day.