Clad in dark jeans, white shirts and black vests, the Legion Post #27 Legion Riders roar on motorcycles down the streets of Beatrice and nearby towns during veteran funerals and community parades.
Many riders sport cowboy hats, giving them a rough neo-Western aesthetic, but their character is anything but rugged individualism. Far from leaving others to yank at their own laces, the Legion Riders lend a hand to community members, according to the Post’s Legion Riders director Brad Morris.
“We have veterans who are in need, and we try to help them,” Morris said. “We’re one of the pieces in the puzzle to help veterans.”
Morris said the Legion Riders have escorted for nearly 20 funerals in the area this year, as well as escorting the casket of Omaha’s Corporal Daegan Page, a marine killed in the Kabul Airport ISIS-K attack.
Legion Rider member Mike Comer said those opportunities to escort at funerals made up most of why he joined the group when it started in 2010.
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“I wanted to be a member of it to help the families of soldiers who pass on,” Comer said. “I think we give a lot of relief to them. You know, that’s the last time those soldiers are going to get any recognition for what they did for our country. It’s our honor to do it for the family. It gives the families a little bit of closure.”
Comer said they’ve ridden in all kinds of weather to support local veterans and their families.
“The coldest we’ve ridden in has been 4 degrees below zero,” he said. “As long as we can ride on the roads, we go.”
Morris said the Post #27 Legion Riders is the largest chapter per capita in the state, with more than 100 members.
“Beatrice is kind of the melting pot for all the nearby towns,” he said.
Despite the broad distance to cover between towns, Morris—who lives in Liberty—said the Legion Riders form a closely-knit community that spans nearly 60 years in age-range.
“There’s great camaraderie between veterans,” he said. “We’re brothers and sisters.”
The Legion Riders also raise money and participate in service projects for veteran community members.
Morris said they built a new porch free of charge for a veteran. For another, they secured the funds to replace his washer and dryer. Raising money from car shows and barbeques, the group looks for projects and people they can spend it on, Morris said.
To join the Legion Riders, one must be a veteran or an immediate family member of one and a member of a veteran’s organization, including the Sons of the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary. Members must also have a motorcycle that’s bigger than 350 cc, a valid motorcycle license and insurance.