Riding for the fallen

16th Navajo-Hopi Honor Run brings comfort, healing, heartbreak, support to military families

By Geri Hongeva-Camarillo


Navajo Times | Ravonelle Yazzie
Floyd and Kathy Benally, from Shiprock, and other bikers begin lining up as they reach the end of the 16th annual Lori Piestewa Navajo-Hopi Honor Ride in Window Rock on Sunday afternoon. Floyd Benally is the son of U.S. Marine Corps Code Talker Johnson Benally.

What kind of people save vacation hours so they can use it to visit families who have lost loved ones in service to their country? The answer is the Navajo-Hopi Honor Riders.

As they completed the 16th Annual Navajo-Hopi Honor Run on May 20 at the Window Rock Veterans’ Memorial Park, adjacent to the president’s office parking lot, they enjoyed one last meal together.

Over a hundred bikers expressed their emotions after the four-day honor ride, wiping away tears, hugging one another and exchanging contact information.

The biker family is committed to their mission and they have achieved it.

When the news of U.S. Army Spec. Lori Piestewa’s death, the first Native American female to be killed in combat, spread across Navajo and Hopi communities in 2003, it pierced the hearts of thousands of people.

The ride’s founders, who began “Riding for Lori,” which later became the annual Navajo-Hopi Honor Run, made a vow to keep the run going.

To date, there are many Gold Star and Blue Star families in the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe. Gold Star families have lost a loved one and Blue Stars have family members active in the service.

The 16th Annual Navajo-Hopi Honor Run included visiting Gold Star families of:

  • Army Spec. Lori Piestewa.
  • U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Olin K. Simeona
  • USMC Pfc. Emerson Martin.
  • USMC Cpl. Bernice K. Yazzie.
  • Army Pfc. Clint Lamebear.
  • USMC Lance Cpl. Alejandro J. Yazzie.
  • Army Sgt. Lee Duane Todacheene.
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class James E. Thode.
  • Army Sgt. Marshall A. Westbrook.
  • Army Sgt. Clifton J. Yazzie.
  • Army Cpl. Lyle J. Cambridge.
  • Army Sgt. Troy Tom.
  • USMC Lance Cpl. Quinn A. Keith.
  • USMC Sgt. Wayne H. Elwood Tsosie.
  • USMC Vaughn McFarland.
  • USMC Cpl. Shannon Lee.
  • USMC Staff Sgt. Jonathan D. Davis.
  • USMC Lance Cpl. Kevin B. Joyce.
  • Army Pfc. Harry N. Shondee.
  • Army Spec. Christopher J. Moon.
  • Army Sgt. Christopher Gonzales.

 To read the full article, pick up your copy of the Navajo Times at your nearest newsstand Thursday mornings!

Are you a digital subscriber? Read the most recent three weeks of stories by logging in to your online account.

  Find newsstand locations at this link.

Or, subscribe via mail or online here.

Categories: Community