A Friend “Never Forgotten”

31 Dec

A Friend “Never Forgotten”

A Nam Era Story, Told at The Wall

May 24, 2014

7D1_5922tPhotos by: J. Michael Johnson
Words by:     Richard Yaras and
                     J. Michael Johnson
                     Copyrighted 2014

“A Friend “Never Forgotten”

The words of Richard M Yaras and my photos tell the story of what happened in front of the Wall (Vietnam Veterans Memorial) during Rolling Thunder XXVII.

Approximately 9:50 am, Saturday morning May 24, 2014, I walked into the depth and quietness of the Wall from the west entrance, I had no idea that when I photographed a tall unknown veteran in red hat, black jacket and boots visiting names on the Wall, that I would once again photograph this “Nam Era” veteran, shaking hands with Richard Yaras, a biker who had ridden his Harley almost a 1000’s miles to place a pair of paratrooper’s boots down at Panel 16E in front of a friend’s name, now frozen forever in the black granite of the Wall.

After returning home from Rolling Thunder, I received the following e-mail from Richard Yaras, which explains in his own words, the events I photographed that Saturday morning at the Wall.                            by J. Michael Johnson

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Paratrooper Boots, My Story
Fri, May 30, 2014 9:40 pm

From: RICHARD YARAS  yaras7280@gmail.com
to:  jmjphoto@aol.com

I always wanted to ride my Harley to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. This year I was lucky enough to be invited to ride with the members of our local Rolling Thunder chapter 4 from Jacksonville Fl.

I bought my first Harley, a 1966 XLCH in September of 1965. When Robert Michael Cartwright, called Mike by family and friends, came home on leave before being deployed to Vietnam we were able to spend time together riding our bikes and raising a little hell. Before he left for Nam he gave me his jump boots to wear when I rode. I have kept those boots on display in my den for 48 years. I was torn over keeping the boots or returning them to Mike. My decision was to return them to Mike. As I placed them at the Wall a member of Rolling Thunder was standing beside me. Someone I didn’t know. He extended his hand to me and gave me a hug. Then he asked me if I would like a pin to place with the boots. After I attached the pin to the note I had put inside the boots he gave me another one to wear on my vest. That’s what you call Brotherhood and that’s what the ride to the wall is all about.                   Sincerely  Richard M Yaras

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