Veterans go rock crawling in ‘Hero for a Day’ off-road event

HURRICANE – One local group honored veterans Saturday in a unique way – by providing drivers and vehicles for a rock-crawling tour of trails in Sand Mountain Off-highway Vehicle Area.

Veteran Tony Moore, his wife Gwyneth and daughter Abby pause for a photo during the Hero for a Day access ride Saturday, Sand Hollow Off-highway Vehicle Area, Hurricane, Utah, May 27, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Trail Hero, St. George News

The “Hero for a Day” Veteran’s Run provided veterans and their families with an opportunity to get out on public land in four-wheel drive vehicles driven by volunteers.

“Our goal with Trail Hero is to provide access – motorized access – for both veterans on a day like today, and on a separate day, for people with special needs,” Trail Hero President Rich Klein said.

The day started with a breakfast provided by Zion Harley-Davidson, located at 2345 N. Coral Canyon Blvd. in Washington.

“We’re really, really proud to have you as our guests out here today,” Klein told the assembled volunteers and veterans. Participants included veterans from the Korean War, Vietnam War, Desert Storm and Afghanistan.

After introductions, participants were matched with volunteer drivers and the group headed to Sand Mountain and the West Rim and West Rim Lite trails.

Volunteers offer rides to veterans and their families during the Hero for a Day access ride Saturday, Sand Hollow Off-highway Vehicle Area, Hurricane, Utah, May 27, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Trail Hero, St. George News

“We love serving the vets, and we also love four-wheeling,” Karlton Durkee said. “So we thought this was a perfect opportunity to drive from Phoenix up here to take a vet out on a trail.” Durkee himself served four years in the U.S. Navy.

Volunteers provided seats in their own off-road vehicles for veterans and their families; some veterans brought their own vehicles and took the opportunity to learn from the more experienced trail leaders.

Volunteer driver Nick Lees said his grandfather was a World War II veteran who was disabled for the last 20 years of his life.

“This kind of hits home, being here today,” Lees said, “it’s a proud moment.”

While some of the veterans were apprehensive about rock crawling at first, Klein said that changed as the day wore on.

Volunteers offer rides to veterans and their families during the Hero for a Day access ride Saturday, Sand Hollow Off-highway Vehicle Area, Hurricane, Utah, May 27, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Trail Hero, St. George News

“By the middle of the trail, everyone’s got smiles and they’re lighting up. It’s pretty fun to watch.”

“Their joy just increases as the day progresses,” Klein said.

Wives, daughters and grandchildren accompanied the veterans on the ride; Klein also paid tribute to military spouses.

After returning to Zion Harley Davidson, a flag retirement ceremony was held by Boy Scouts of America from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Coral Canyon Third Ward. About 30 flags were retired during the ceremony.

According to the U.S. Flag Code, flags that are damaged or in poor condition should be “destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.” Boy Scouts have a specific retirement ceremony for that purpose.

Courtney Ivory salutes during a flag retirement ceremony held at Zion Harley Davidson Saturday as part of Memorial Day activities, May 27, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Zion Harley Davidson, St. George News

Saturday’s event was the second of five access events sponsored by Trail Hero leading up to the Trail Hero rock sports event set for Oct. 4-7 at Sand Hollow.

“The access events are based on creating outdoor opportunities for people that aren’t necessarily able to go hiking or jump on a horse or anything like that,” Klein said.

“We focus on the motorized outdoor activities,” he said. “These are people that fought for this land and need motorized access to experience it.”

For more information about Trail Hero or getting involved in access rides, see the Trail Hero website or Facebook page.

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Email: japplegate@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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