COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A local Vietnam veteran had one last wish while in hospice care, and that was to ride a motorcycle one more time.
On Sunday, a group of riders made his dream possible.
Vietnam veteran Roger L. Smith was wheeled out of the house, surrounded by loved ones and riders.
“I said I want to get on a bike at least one time before I die,” said Smith.
And that’s what he got.
“He requested a last ride and, for us, it’s veterans helping veterans,” said Steve Murray of Combat Veterans Motorcycle Club.
In addition to Combat Veteran, other groups taking part in the ride included Ohio Patriot Bikers and Punishers Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club.
Smith’s health has been declining over the last three weeks.
“He started having issues with Agent Orange affecting his lungs. His lungs are crystalizing. He can’t breathe that well,” said one friend.
Prior to his health issues, friends said he used to solely drive a motorcycle to work, but before Sunday, he hasn’t been on a bike in two years.
“I feel like I lost a part of myself,” Smith said. “I haven’t been on a bike in a couple years because of my lungs. I’m dying from inside out. I had to do this for me.”
Before the group took off, everyone gathered around Smith for a prayer. “We give you thanks for these veterans as they make his wish come true.”
More than two dozen rider then hopped on their bikes, and engines started roaring before they took off for one last ride.
“I kept pulling up beside him and he kept putting his thumbs up,” said Murray. “He was so happy. He was so happy it made my day.”
Murray added a ride like Smith’s is a demonstration of unity not only among veterans, but also motorcycle clubs.
“I think everyone was here for the same purpose and he was the purpose,” said one rider. “That’s pretty much what we do. We stick together and support each other.”
As the group pulled back into the driveway, Smith had a big smile on his face and gave everyone a thumbs up. However, the other riders were also thanking him for this ride.
“It’s truly an honor to do this and we do a lot of rides for charities and events, but when you can do this for a veteran who requested one final ride, it’s a great feeling,” Murray said.