A ride of remembrance

MARSHALL – Four-month-old Jude Jason Timmerman is too young yet to know that he was named after a real-life hero, though someday, he will.

Jude Jason accompanied his parents, Travis and Adina Timmerman of Alexandria, and his grandparents, Pat and Gary Timmerman of Marshall, as riders for the 8th Annual L.T.D. Motorcycle Memorial Tour made a stop Saturday in Marshall.

“Jude is named after Jason,” Adina Timmerman said.

The memorial ride honors three National Guardsmen – Sgt. Jesse Lhotka, First Lt. Jason Timmerman and Staff Sgt. David Day – who were killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2005 while they were attempting to evacuate a comrade. The soldiers’ initials give the L.T.D. ride its name.

“It’s pretty important to us,” said Travis Timmerman, the youngest brother of Jason. “This is the first time I’ve gotten to go to it. It’s pretty emotional.”

Timmerman tried hard to keep his composure but was overcome with strong emotions as he talked about his brother.

“It’s just hard,” he said. “I’ve never seen everyone like this. It’s a good event.”

The day was bittersweet for the Timmermans as they struggled through the mixture of pride and sadness they felt.

“It’s sad but awesome that so many people come out eight years later,” Adina Timmerman said.

L.T.D. board member Ann Hanson reported that 244 bikes and a total of 336 riders rolled into Marshall just before noon on Saturday.

“We picked up about 30-40 people here in Marshall, and we’ll probably pick up about the same in Madison,” Hanson said. “This is so great.”

Hanson expressed appreciation for all the assistance, including the presence of the fire, sheriff and police departments, as well as the overwhelming support as they rolled into town.

“I think the community loves it,” she said. “There are so many people out alongside the roads it’s unbelievable.”

Riders followed the route from Appleton to Montevideo, Clarkfield, Marshall, Canby, Madison, Ortonville, Clinton, Graceville and Morris before returning to the Swift County Fairgrounds in Appleton, where the live bands Killer Hayseeds and Maiden Dixie performed. Raffle prizes are also awarded.

“We may head up to the concert (Saturday night),” Travis Timmerman said. “We’ll see how (Jude Jason) is doing.”

While people joined in or dropped off from the 2013 memorial tour at various locations, Hanson said she was pleased with the strong turnout. The ride would, however, be deemed successful even if there were far less participants, she said.

“It doesn’t matter how many people there are, as long as we have a ride,” Hanson said. “We always have to remember what we’re out here for, and that’s the three soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice. It helps all the veterans, to heal each other, too. Just being together once a year, talking, is good for everybody.”

Board member Keely Hamann agreed.

“As long as we have people who are showing up and still supporting us, that’s really all that matters,” Hamann said.

Delores and Dennis Naab of Wood Lake were among the many who lined the streets to welcome the riders.

“We have a daughter, granddaughter and a son-in-law riding (Saturday),” Delores Naab said. “We came out to watch them and the others.”

The Naabs noted that their daughter, Maureen Knutson, just bought a Harley two years ago.

“She loves it,” Delores Naab said.

While the bikes varied in color, make and size, Mike Johnson of Cosmos and Annie Merkins of Cedar Mills perhaps turned the most heads with Johnson’s homemade motorcycle, which reminded some people of a miniature version of the hot rod truck on “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

“It’s a perfect day for riding,” Johnson said.

Pat Timmerman agreed, noting that “it was a gorgeous day.” Earlier, she took some roses to Jason’s place of rest.

“I asked him to help give everybody a safe ride (Saturday),” she said. “This is just awesome, just to see so many bikers and know they still remember.”