Under beautiful skies, the Wounded Vet Ride with more than 6,000 motorcycles participating went through parts of our community last weekend. The Ride helped raise funds for four local veterans who were wounded in combat overseas.
The idea of the ride was first started by Winthrop resident Andrew Biggio and former East Boston State Rep. Carlo Basile and encompassing a 25-mile trek starting in the North Shore and ending at Suffolk Downs.
This year the Wounded Vet Ride raised money for Army SSG James Clark, Sgt. Peter Damon, Army Specialist Sean Pesce, Marine Sgt. Eric Rodriguez and Marine Sgt. Kirstie Ennis.
Marine Sgt. Ennis was the first woman honored at the Massachusetts event since it was started six years ago by Biggio.
Army SSG James Clark of Hinsdale lost his leg and part of a foot in a 2009 Afghanistan deployment by an IED. He is the first New Hampshire resident honored by the annual Vet Ride. He currently works at a small diner in western Massachusetts and is married with two children.
Sgt. Peter Damon lost both his arms in Iraq in 2003. While fixing a Blackhawk helicopter tire, it malfunctioned and exploded. The explosion killed a fellow mechanic and wounded Damon gravely. Damon know owns and operates his own art store now and paints.
Army Specialist Sean Pesce was shot thirteen times in a firefight in Afghanistan. One of the rounds pierced his spine causing him to be paralyzed from the waist down. Money raised for Pesce will be put towards his foundation to better his quality of life.
Marine Sgt, Eric Rodriguez was wounded in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device. Rodriguez lost a leg and took severe damage to another. He was serving with 1st Battalion 8th Marines in Helmand Province . He plays Paralympic basketball for the U.S. Marines.
On June 23, 2012, a CH-53E Super Stallion Marine Sgt. Kirstie Ennis was aboard went down during a combat resupply run to Forward Operating Base Now Zad, Afghanistan. All eight people aboard survived, but the crash left Ennis with a shattered jaw, broken leg bones, burns, cervical and lumbar spine damage, traumatic brain injury and a hearing impairment. After a few years of trying to salvage her leg it unfortunately had to be amputated. After 38 reconstructive surgeries and years of speech and cognitive therapy, the 24-year-old is scheduled to appear on US Paralympic team.
On behalf of all those who participated and contributed and the East Boston Italian American Veterans (ITAM) Post 6 that sponsored part of the cost of the event, a thank you is well deserved.
We wish these organizers well for future events that help those veterans who have suffered wounds from battle.