WALKER — When two motorcycle officers helped escort 1,800 other motorcyclists to the Sept. 11, 2001, crash sites two weeks ago, they didn’t expect to win a new motorcycle for the Walker Police Department.
“I thought they were pulling my leg,” when other officers said the name of the Walker Police Department had gotten pulled from the hat for a new bike, Capt. Marliam Lee said.
Lee and Cpl. Brett Hutchinson, also of the Walker Police Department, were among 160 police officers from 33 states who shepherded more than 2,000 people riding 1,800 motorcycles on the nearly 500-mile trek that ended Aug 21.
The procession, which sometimes stretched 15 miles, drew crowds as it passed through towns on its way from the Flight 93 crash site in Pennsylvania to the Pentagon and on the World Trade Center memorial site.
People along roadways waved flags and clapped as motorcyclists in the America’s 911 Foundation’s annual ride roared past, Lee said.
“In some towns there were hundreds” of people, he said. “In some places there were thousands.”
Hutchinson said he was impressed that just about every overpass was lined with little kids waving flags, firemen in full gear and other people showing their patriotism.
The ceremony at the final stop, where the World Trade Center towers once stood, was something Hutchinson said he has no words to explain, but will remember the rest of this life.
In addition to New York City and Washington, D.C., the motorcyclists had to weave their way through Baltimore and smaller municipalities.
A big part of Lee and Hutchinson’s job was stopping traffic on cross streets for the procession.
For part of the trip, police helicopters flew at the front and rear of the long group, Lee said.
The trip turned out great for the Walker Police Department, Police Chief Hunter Grimes said.
The foundation paid for the fuel, lodging and tolls for the two officers, and then the department won a new police motorcycle, which will be used on patrols in the city, he said.
Harley-Davidson, which donated the motorcycle, will deliver it in a few weeks, he said.
Walker was the only Louisiana police department helping in this year’s event, Lee said.
After hauling their motorcycles to Virginia, Lee and Hutchinson traveled about 1,000 miles on their bikes to and from New York.
It was the second time for both to help with the annual ride.
They admitted to getting tired, but said they would like to help the group with a future trip.