Ride in Remembrance raises funds to honor fallen 2-2 SBCT soldiers at JBLM

By J.M. Simpson on May 16, 2014

On his Saturday morning walks through Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Memorial Park, Col. Louis Zeisman pauses to honor the base's fallen heroes

"My family and I walk through here," the commander of 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, recently said.

"It's a way to remember, and we treat it as a place of honor."

In the park are monuments honoring the 3rd and 4th Stryker Combat Brigade Teams, 42nd Military Police Brigade and the 555th Engineer Brigade.

What Zeisman does not see is a memorial honoring the brigade he commands.

That will soon change.

"Currently, our memo to build a memorial is at the Pentagon," he said.

Comprised of two tall pillars of granite, the names of the fallen will be etched in stone. In between the pillars will be a bench with footsteps walking away.

"When you see the footsteps walking off by themselves, it touches everybody," Zeisman added.

>>> More than 200 bikers rolled by the diagram showing the memorial 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team and the Lancer Soldier and Family Fund want to build to honor those lost in Afghanistan. Photo credit: J.M. Simspon

The brigade deployed to Afghanistan on two separate occasions.

Some history is in order.

5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team deployed in 2009 thru 2010.  Thirty-seven soldiers did not come home. 

In 2010, 5th Brigade reflagged as the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.  It deployed to Afghanistan from 2011 thru 2012.  Eight soldiers lost their lives.

The memorial will honor the fallen from the brigade's two deployments to Afghanistan as well as those who died in training.

Leading the effort to build the memorial is the Lancer Soldier and Family Fund, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization.

Connie Dotson, wife of 2nd Brigade's top enlisted soldier, Command Sgt. Maj. Tim Dotson and the chairwoman of the fund, said the organization has worked for over a year to raise funds.

"We've got $13,000 in the bank," she said this morning as more than 200 motorcycles roared to life at the Northwest Harley-Davidson in Lacey.

The daylong event also featured food, music and a number of vendors. All proceeds went to fund the memorial.

"We need $60,000 to complete the memorial and fly the family members of those lost out here for the dedication," Dotson explained.

The granite for the memorial has already been delivered. All the Lancer Soldier and Family Fund group need is to receive an OK from the Department of Army and finish its fund raising.

"I'm confident we will make our goal," Dotson said.

"We expect to have the memorial finished by May of next year."

>>> Pfc. Kevin DeJesus, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, holds up his shirt before the "Ride in Remembrance," May 16. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Dubbed "The Ride in Remembrance," hundreds of motorcycle riders - most of whom active duty or veterans riding Harley-Davidsons - and thousands of soldiers, family members and community leaders showed up to support the fund raising.

"It's an honor to be here today and ride in support of the memorial," said Sgt. 1st Class Matt Collins, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, as he fired up his Harley.

"No one should be forgotten."

For more information about 2nd Brigade's memorial and fundraising efforts, visit www.lancerfund.org.