Nearly 50 motorcyclists gathered at Horney Toad Harley Davidson of Fort Hood in Harker Heights on Saturday for the start of the Ride of Wreaths.

The ride, which was coordinated by nonprofit Wreaths for Vets, helped raise funds to place thousands of wreaths on headstones at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery during the holiday season.

Shortly after the motorcyclists met up at 10 a.m. at the dealership at 875 W. E. Central Texas Expressway, the group hit the highway, headed for the cemetery south of Killeen.

The silence in the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery was broken when dozens of motorcycles ripped through the entrance.

Among them was Army veteran Geoffrey Harris, who has made the same ride for the past eight years.

“This is probably where I’ll be laid to rest,” Harris said. “I wanted to pay respect to some of my fellow comrades who are here.”

Eddie Gilbert, vice president of projects and events, has been hooked with the cause ever since he helped start the motorcycle ride in 2011.

“Every year, it’s just gotten bigger and bigger,” he said. “It’s all to raise awareness.”

Jackie Fountain, a retired sergeant major of the Army’s Chemical Corps, and the Harker Heights mayor pro tem, gave a keynote in the cemetery she dubbed “Central Texas’ shining star.”

Fountain was the first female command sergeant major of the Chemical Corps.

“This cemetery is important to us, because this is where a lot of us are going to come to rest with our brothers in arms. This is one of our shining stars,” Fountain said. “Every year, we will ensure that every one of the stones you see out here has a wreath. That doesn’t happen easy.”

Wreath preparation will begin Saturday, Nov. 17 at the Killeen Special Events Center. The wreaths will be placed Saturday, Nov. 24.

mpayne@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7553

Herald staff writer

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