HOULTON, Maine — A devoted and dedicated group of hikers is not about to let the current COVID-19 pandemic keep them from honoring fallen soldiers.
The 2020 Wilderness Walk for Warriors, created by Houlton resident Chris Robinson to pay tribute to fallen or injured soldiers, kicks off July 11 and features a 10-day, 120-mile journey along the Appalachian Trail to the top of Mount Katahdin.
The hike has been held every year in July since 2014. This year’s hike will feature a team of 10 hikers, with more than 350 people expected to participate in the motorcade. Robinson added he saw no reason not to continue with the event this year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic gripping the nation.
“These guys [soldiers who died] didn’t have the option of staying home, so neither are we,” Robinson said. “We feel it is important to honor them.”
Starting at the National Guard base in Bangor with a motorcycle escort. Robinson said the procession typically involves 75 motorcyclists and 50 or more motorists. The motorcade then travels to Monson, where an honors ceremony will be held. From there, the hikers begin their trek.
This year’s theme, “Never Forgotten,” will see the group carrying custom-made flags, honoring every Maine service member who was killed in action during the Vietnam War.Two additional flags were made to honor Sgt. Tommy Fields of Lisbon and Sgt. Gary Gordon of Lincoln. Both men were killed in the Battle of Mogadishu, also known as the “Black Hawk Down” incident.
Honoring soldiers is something the group has been doing for a number of years. Last year, the group carried eight individual panels that connected to form a memorial wall with the names of 115 Maine heroes who have died since Sept. 11, 2001. Those boards also included an additional 86 names from the Maine Law Enforcement Memorial.
Previous treks included painted rocks with portraits of soldiers or law enforcement men and women who have been killed in action.
The Wilderness Walk for Warriors is a non-profit organization that is composed of volunteers who are dedicated to assisting veterans, service members and, or their families; as well as honoring Maine fallen heroes.
For information on the hike, visit the group’s Facebook page.