Legion riders honor parents of those serving in military

Eight large motorcycles rumbled noisily along North Wintergarden Road on Sunday afternoon, their bearded
drivers wearing identical black leather vests.
Neighbors who might have wondered at the unusual sight were quick to see American flags flying from many
of the Harley-Davidsons. The motorcyclists, all American Legion Riders of Ohio, West Unity Post 669,
were on a mission to give Linda and Dan Snow of Bowling Green, and Sue and Bill Solarik of Cygnet,
blue-star banners in honor of their children serving in the military.
Staff Sgt. Blake Wise, 29, the son of the Snows, is serving his second tour of duty in Iraq. He is a
medic with the 82nd Airborne, U.S. Army; 2nd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment
out of Fort Bragg, N.C., and will complete his year-long tour in November.
The Solariks’ daughter, Sgt. Kimberly Solarik, 24, is in the 3rd Marine Air Wing, Marine Medium
Helicopter Squad 165, stationed at Camp Miramar, San Diego. She previously was aboard a ship that served
in the Middle East, including at a base in Iraq. She followed her father’s footsteps into the Marines.

The Snows, Solariks and other family members and friends greeted the riders in the Snows’ front yard on
North Wintergarden. Among them was Dan Snow’s father, Charles, a World War II Navy veteran proudly
wearing his Honor Flight T-shirt. His son served in the Army, and three grandsons, Jeff (Army), Michael
(Navy) and Blake are third generation military.
American Legion Riders’ (ALR) Director Perry Marvin presented to the two mothers Certificates of Honor in
their children’s names, expressing appreciation for their service in the American armed forces. They
also received white blue-star banners, edged in red, to proudly hang in a front window, announcing they
have a family member serving in the military.
"It’s a tradition dating from World War I and continued in World War 2," explained Marvin
during the brief ceremony. Since the tradition of the blue star banners waned with the Korean and
Vietnam wars, "our group has taken on, as a mission, to bring this tradition back and honor your
son and daughter. You have a family member serving in the armed forces during a time of war."
The group enjoyed refreshments and posed for pictures before heading out for another presentation. They
were making four on Sunday, including Toledo and Leipsic.
Bob Clark of Grand Rapids, and his wife Colleen, rode their maroon Harley. "It’s an honor for me
because soldiers weren’t looked upon very well from the Vietnam War," he said. "We’re not
going to let our soldiers be treated like back then. Most of the families are really honored we’re doing
The Clarks join their fellow riders each month to make presentations on the second and fourth Sundays,
plus ride with the Rolling Thunder veterans and the Patriot Guard Riders.
The riders given out seven gold stars to families who have lost loved ones in war, while the Snows and
Solariks were the 203rd and 204th blue-star banner presentations by the post in its three-year
existence. The group covers Northwest Ohio, but has gone as far as Fort Wayne and Adrian, Mich.
"We’ve been greeted with tears of joy," said Marvin.
"It makes us feel as good as they do," remarked Ron Carico of Ridgeville Corners.
Army veteran Karl Williams, formerly of Weston but now of Camden, Mich., said he just likes to honor the
veterans and service members as an American Legion Rider.
After the group left, Linda Snow stated, "It’s a hard thing to describe, when you have people close
to you in the military, and know there are people out there who care and love and respect the military
and the families of the military."
Prior to the riders’ visit, Sue Solarik did not have a banner to hang in honor of her daughter. "I
appreciate their taking their Sunday afternoon to do this on a volunteer basis for military families and
their loved ones," she said.