Arizona Guard members cycle with Tour of Duty riders

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Susan Gladstein
  • 161st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Members of the Arizona National Guard Athletic Club joined 24 cyclists in stage four of the Tour of Duty Ride Aug. 16, 2012.

Twenty members of the Arizona National Guard joined 24 military members, firefighters and police officers from the United States and Australia who were on their way to Flagstaff as the tour participants make their way more than 2,600 miles from San Diego to New York City.

The Tour of Duty riders, who will cover between 60 to 130 miles per day, will cycle in stages and will finish at the World Trade Center site to commemorate 9/11.

The event, which aims to demonstrate the respect and admiration for military, police, firefighters and emergency service workers, began in 2010 as a coast-to-coast run. This is the first year as a bicycle ride.

For ride participant Tech. Sgt. Jason Dunning, what he didn't expect about the stage four ride was so much support from so many municipal agencies.

"We had fire departments supporting us all along the route," said Sergeant Dunning, 161st Communications Flight. "DPS and local police agencies from each city dedicated so many resources to make sure the group stayed together as well as keeping all of the riders and traffic safe. Even though so many vehicles were inconvenienced by the traffic restrictions, I felt that so many people of the community stopped to encourage the riders and the mission they have joined."

Arizona National Guard participation was 40 miles, which began in Phoenix and ended in New River. Three Phoenix-area residents are among the Tour of Duty riders, including a former member of the 161st Air Refueling Wing, retired Master Sgt. Scott Timmerman.

"I can't believe how much support we've been getting," said Australian rider Michael Tagell. "It blows me away, coming from Australia, how much support we're getting here in America. It actually makes me proud to be an Australian and proud to be a firefighter."

According to Sergeant Dunning, the mission of this event is to provide assistance and awareness to quite a few different organizations.

"An event like this allows me time and an opportunity to think about and reflect on the people that we are supporting," he said. "It's important for people of the community to see that the Arizona National Guard has a vested interest in our community as well."