News: Joint Task Force Empire Shield Welcomes Royal Air Force Bike Riders - Team Rode Across the United States for British Wounded Warriors
NEW YORK , N.Y. - Members of the New York Army National Guard joined representatives of the New York City Police and Fire Departments, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in welcoming two members of the Royal Air Force to New York City and "Ground Zero" on Saturday, June 13.
The two RAF veterans, Warrant Officer Nick Styles and Sgt. Jason Lewis, rode across the United States as part of an effort, called Operation Long Road, to raise funds to help wounded British veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq through the Help for Heroes Foundation. Lewis a member of the RAF Regiment is,himself, a war casualty.
They finished their 3,181 mile ride with a wreath laying ceremony at the site where the World Trade Center used to stand prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
A six-Soldier team from the New York National Guard's Joint Task Force Empire Shield, which provides full-time security augmentation to New York City law enforcement, took time out of their security duties to salute the British military men. Major Gen. Joseph Taluto, the Adjutant General of New York, sent a congratulatory message which was presented to the cross-country bikers.
The two RAF members were joined by a three-member support team, London Police Constable Peter Taylor, bike mechanic Andrew Jones, and physical therapist Roy Hunte. They launched their ride on May 4 at the Santa Monica Pier in California. Financial supporters for the trip included Prince Harry and Prince William, second and third in line for the British Crown, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
The five men wanted to finish their ride by honoring the almost 3,000 Americans and others who died on Sept. 11. They reached out to New York Army National Guard Lt. Col. Paul Fanning, New York's Public Affairs Office, for help, and Fanning organized a welcoming ceremony and a wreath laying for them.
The celebrations at the finish line, with the presence of the military, the police and the fire departments, and members of the public, made it very special, Styles said.
"It has been an outstanding trip across a great country, and we thank everybody who has made it possible," he added.
The five men were also hosted to a tour of the historic Lexington Avenue Armory, home of the 1st Battalion 69th Infantry, following the wreath laying.
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