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Get Wet for a Vet raises money to take Vietnam vets to D.C. wall

MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- For its five year anniversary, the non-profit Get Wet for a Vet is devoting the funds raised at Saturday's event to a trip to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in D.C. for 40+ Vietnam vets.

It's called the "Welcome Home Tour," and the group hopes to raise $45,000 to give each vet an all-expenses paid trip.

The biker community has helped significantly in reaching that goal.

Saturday saw a record turnout with more than 370 bikes meeting at the VFW 360 in Mishawaka for the fundraising ride.

“This is an amazing, amazing program that they’re putting on. To see the...bikers that took off that have all donated the money to make this happen," said Vietnam veteran Thomas Tykes.

Tykes, along with many of his brothers in arms, have never seen the wall in D.C.

“When they said you were going to go, I said you know what that’s pretty cool," said Thomas, getting choked up.

“And then when they said I could go, I was like yes! And I’ll be able to help out," said his wife, Marietta Tykes.

Marietta has been to the wall many a time, helping vets find the names of their comrades.

Now, she'll be able to help her husband.

“I lost a lot of friends that stayed in after I got out even that I knew stayed in some serious conflict after I got out," said Thomas.

He'll be looking for those names right alongside the bikers who made the trip happen as some escort the group all the way to D.C.

“It’s an honor...It’s all for the cause. It’s all about the Vietnam vets. If we can make their day and take them to the wall, then that’s a good day," said Greg Batalis, who will be riding alongside the vets' bus.

“That’s what makes America America. We are here, and we’re free, and freedom is not free," said Thomas.

ABC 57's Jess Arnold will be accompanying the group on the trip starting Thursday, August 2nd.

Follow along for live reports on air and online throughout the weekend.

The organization reports that they have exceeded their fundraising goal of $45,000.


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