UAW Veterans Set To Honor Memorial Day

No Greater love hath man than to lay down his life for a friend.

UAW Local 2069 Veterans Committee extends invitations across the NRV to attend the 27th annual UAW Veterans Ride for Freedom Memorial Ceremony/Run to the Wall.

On Saturday, May 26th, at 8:00 a.m., the front lawn of the union hall at UAW Local 2069 (across from the Volvo Truck Plant) will be filled with veterans from all eras and hundreds of patriots from all over the New River Valley. The Ride for Freedom Ceremony includes posting of the colors, speeches, live music, Amazing Grace on bag pipes, taps and a 21-gun and cannon salute honoring and remembering our service members who gave their all.

Veterans Committee member Eric Patton, says “The ceremony is important and gets us focused on the mission of the Ride for Freedom/Run to the Wall, as it’s here we get to share with the community our support for our military, our veterans, most importantly; pay homage and reverence for those who gave the supreme sacrifice for our freedom and for those who have not returned home”.

We are honored to announce that this year’s key note speaker is Retired Chief Warrant Officer Dale Schrader. In 1993, CWO3.  Schrader took part in Operation Restore Hope in Mogadishu, Somalia. This operation to the public is more commonly known as Black Hawk Down because award winning motion picture.

Chief Schrader was piloting the 2nd Black Hawk helicopter in during their mission when they were struck with a rocket propelled grenade and crashed in the mean streets of Mogadishu. All the crew was killed except the two pilots.  Mr. Schrader has an incredible story, he fought gallantly to save his co pilot and protect the bodies of his comrades who were killed in action. CWO Schrader earned the Silver Star during this action Patton suggest, “Watch Black Hawk Down, get familiar with the story, and come out and meet Mr. Schrader. He is an American hero and icon he tells an amazing story teller and gives a true and gritty testimony. This is special.”

The UAW Veterans Committee has recognized Memorial Day for 27 years in this fashion, hosting the Ride for Freedom/ Run to the Wall. Patton continues, “We’re proud to host this event and provide meaningful Memorial Day weekend for the 200 or so from the NRV who participate with us and the near 1 million other patriots who gather in Washington for this national POW/MIA Rally. The major function of Rolling Thunder is to publicize the POW-MIA issue. To educate the public that many American Prisoners of War were left behind after all previous wars and to help correct the past and to protect the veterans from being left behind should they become POW or MIA. Rolling Thunder is committed to helping American veterans from all wars. Rolling Thunder Inc. is heavily involved is legislation matters that concern veterans and their families, it is a non-profit organization that donates their time because they believe in the POW/MIA issue and the well being of all who served”.

Committee chairman, Mark Peterson states “Over the many years, we have had the opportunity to share special memories and bring many of our citizens together to honor our American service men and women who gave their all. We, too, feel veterans are our greatest citizens and provide us the freedom to assemble on this grand morning, as they provide all our freedoms. This responsibility we do not take lightly. We take great pride and we’re humbled to have another opportunity to share this wonderful morning with the NRV and hope the public will also take the moment to experience the UAW Veterans Ride for Freedom Memorial Ceremony and Run to the Wall”.

The one hour ceremony will be on Saturday, May 26th, at 8 a.m., rain or shine. The Ride for Freedom/Run to the Wall will depart the union hall at 9:30a.m. Sharp.

By Mark Peterson


United States Army Silver Star recipient and New River Valley native to speak at

Volvo UAW Memorial Weekend Service

Many of you are familiar with the Academy Award winning movie Black Hawk Down, but many people don’t know or have forgotten why our troops were in Somalia.  Years of drought had led to widespread starvation throughout that portion of Africa.  Those familiar with the devastation in Somalia remember the nightly news scenes depicted by multiple news outlets of starving and disease inflicted children. (10% of all children under 5 would end up dying)   Civilian organizations quickly responded and huge quantities of food were sent.  However, these relief efforts never reached the areas it was needed due to competing warlords and other lawless organizations intercepting them and selling them for their own financial gains.  Troops from the US and other allied countries were called upon to provide humanitarian relief and assist the country in ending its civil war and the subsequent starvation.

Black Hawk Down covered the First Battle of Mogadishu, which started on October 3, 1993, when two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down during OPERATION Gothic Serpent. What many people don’t know is that eight days prior, another Black Hawk helicopter flying as part of the Army 101st Airborne Division was shot down by an RPG while flying a night time reconnaissance mission.  Only the pilot and co-pilot survived.

The UAW proudly announces that the speaker for their May 26th event will be CW5 (Retired) Dale Shrader, the pilot of that UH-60 Black Hawk.  Dale grew up in Narrows.  At the time he was recognized for his action, then CW3 Shrader was awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action.  His message is one of heroism and of faith.  You are encouraged to come to the UAW Hall at 8 AM, May 26th, to hear his remarkable story of courage and valor.

(If you have not  watched Black Hawk Down, check at your local library for a copy)

By Jerry Haynes