Photo by John Raughter

Ride honors fallen servicemember, aids OCW

The Fallen SoldierDon't weep for meO'Land of the freeWhen it was my time to fall"Twas my country's call"Twas for the land that I loved,That I gave my allAnd for the land that I loved,I did freely giveAnd in her freedomAnd her courageI'll continue to live-Inscribed on Memorial for Cpl. Zachary Nordmeyer, Speedway, Ind.

Even after making the supreme sacrifice, Cpl. Zachary Nordmeyer continues to give. More than $5,500 was raised for The American Legion's Operation Comfort Warriors Aug. 6 as a result of the third annual Zachary Nordmeyer Memorial Ride.

Organized by Speedway, Ind., Post 500 American Legion Riders, the motorcycle ride included about 75 motorcycle enthusiasts and other people who wanted to pay respects to the first Legionnaire from the post to be killed in action as a result of the global war on terrorism.

The Riders received a police escort to Nordmeyer's grave, where a tribute that included a bugler, the playing of "Taps" and bagpipes was held. Next the Riders circumvented the outer roads of Indianapolis to American Legion Post 300, in Mooresville, Ind.

The first memorial ride in Nordmeyer's honor raised money for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund, and last year the Post 500 Riders donated $10,000 to OCW.

"We have had some other fundraisers in Zachary's honor," said Pat Phillips, director of the Post 500 Riders. "Combined with what we raised on this ride, our goal is to present Operation Comfort Warriors with at least $10,001. In other words, beat last year."

Operation Comfort Warriors provides gifts and recreational items to wounded warriors at U.S. military hospitals and warrior transition units around the world. Zachary' father, Michael Nordmeyer, personally distributed electronics, DVDs, backpacks and other gifts to hundreds of wounded warriors during an OCW visit to Camp Pendleton and Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego earlier this year.

"We chose to support Operation Comfort Warriors because it is a nonprofit, in which there are no administration fees taken out of donations," Michael Nordmeyer said. "We wanted 100 percent of the donations to go to supporting the wounded warriors, and being that this is a Legion program, it's a no-brainer."

He added that it's the type of program that Zachary would have supported.Zachary, 21, and two other U.S. soldiers from his unit lost their lives while being engaged in a firefight with insurgents near Balad, Iraq, on Feb. 23, 2009. They were assigned to the 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division from Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

Nordmeyer's high school ROTC instructor shared fond memories with The Indianapolis Star shortly after his death. "There's quiet leadership, and he was pretty strong at that early," retired Marine Lt. Col. Dave Thompson said. "But by his senior year, he kind of came out of his shell. He wasn't afraid to encourage younger students to develop as cadets and do their best."

The other soldiers who died with Nordmeyer were Spc. Micheal B. Alleman of Logan, Utah; and Cpl. Michael L. Mayne of Burlington Flats, N.Y.