Legacy Run Day 2: A reunion 20 years in the making

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Forty-seven years ago, William Youngren and Woody Pounders became friends while going through Advanced Individual Training together in the U.S. Army. Part of their responsibilities included processing Vietnamese refugees. While they’ve kept in touch over the years, the pair hadn’t seen each other in around 20 years.

But thanks to this year’s American Legion Legacy Run route, the pair were reunited for a short time Monday night during Day 2 of the ride. The pair met up at the day’s final stop, American Legion Post 598 in Kettering, Ohio, where a hearty hug brought the pair back together.

“It’s great (to see him),” said Youngren, a member of Post 575 in Lubbock, Texas, and riding in his sixth Legacy Run. “We keep in touch, and I told him that we were coming to town.”  

Talking before the ride arrived at the post, Pounders affectionately referred to Youngren as both a “bucket head” and “Magilla Gorilla.” “He’s the hairiest man I’ve ever met,” Pounders joked. But there was no way he was going to miss his friend’s visit to a spot so close by.

“He told me he was going to be in this area,” said Pounders, who lives in nearby Lebanon, Ohio. “He’s my buddy, and I hadn’t seen him in a long time. And it’s kind of cool to see that many bikes.”

Three Stops in Ohio. After leaving Michigan shortly after dawn, the ride made its way south, stopping at three Ohio American Legion posts along the way.

American Legion Post 63 in Ottawa hosted a lunch for the Riders and had both Legion Family and community members standing along both sides of Main Street to greet the Legacy Run.

Seven-time Post Commander Tom “Duffer” Rosenbauer is battling health problems, but he still wanted to be on hand to watch the ride arrive. While he had someone else speak for him during the ceremony, he talked briefly before the Riders made it to his post.

“We are very supportive of things like this,” Rosenbauer said. “We try to get behind them as big as we can. I can’t be a part of it right now, but I’d love to.”

More than $5,400 was donated during the stop, including a combined $3,700 from Post 63’s American Legion Family.

At the day’s second stop, this time at American Legion Post 493 in Jackson Center, Past Post Commander and 25-year Post Adjutant Ron Leininger was there to greet the Riders. Leininger was one of the members of the post who helped build the current building from the ground floor up shortly after he came home after serving in Vietnam. The previous facility had burned down.

Being able to host the ride “gave me goosebumps,” said Leininger, pointing them out up and down his arms. “Words can’t describe what an honor it is. This post is so proud to be able to be a part of this.”

And in Kettering, the beautiful and expansive American Legion Post 598, which sits on nine acres of land, was the site for the closing stop.  Post 598 Commander Gavin Long said his post “was about” supporting the ride. “It’s nice to be a part of this. We hosted (the kickoff) to our own State Legacy Run this year, and we raised $10,000 alone here (for the Legacy Fund).”

More than $9,300 was donated at the stop, including more than $8,500 from the American Legion Family at Post 211 in Avon Lake, Ohio.

Longtime Rider Honored. The Legacy Run goes into Day 3 having already raised $488,981. In addition to what was presented at the posts, during the morning all-riders meeting members of the Kansas American Legion Riders presented around $20,000 in honor of longtime Kansas Rider Dave Schoonover. Just over a year ago, Schoonover was on his way to the kickoff of the Legacy Run in Mobile, Ala., when he was involved in a motorcycle accident and died later that day.

Schoonover was a member of the National American Legion Riders Advisory Committee and a participant in every Legacy Run prior to 2022.