It’s just after 7 a.m. Friday when Killeen police Officer Neal Holtzclaw pulls into the parking lot of the La Quinta Inn on Fort Hood Street.
While many in the rooms around him are asleep, Holtzclaw falls in with a small group of men who are busily preparing their lightweight road bikes for the day’s ride.
Today the group is participating in one leg of the “We Remember” Memorial Bicycle Trek Across Texas.
The ride, organized by police officers from San Antonio, travels across the state, visiting every city where an officer died in the line of duty to hold a small remembrance ceremony to honor them.
Holtzclaw, an avid cyclist, is riding with other Killeen and Harker Heights police officers in memory of Killeen Officer Robert “Bobby” Hornsby, who was killed in the line of duty in July.
Many of the cyclists from the department knew Hornsby, and the officers from other Texas departments participating in the ride have lost friends and co-workers as well.
“You get to meet officers from all over the place,” Holtzclaw said. “It’s a brotherhood.”
The ride Friday took the group from La Quinta to Killeen Police Department headquarters on Community Boulevard and then to the Bell County Justice Complex in Belton.
The ride was just a small preview of an even bigger challenge that awaits Holtzclaw next month, when he and other local officers will participate in the National Police Unity Tour on May 10-12. The three-day, 250-mile ride in memory of fallen officers ends at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Holtzclaw will be joined by Hornsby’s widow, Kimberly, as well as Harker Heights police officer Clyde Hicks.
“My wife and I have always had a love and passion for bikes,” Holtzclaw said. “We saw that Kim wanted to do the tour, so we started to train together.”
While this unity tour will be a first for Holtzclaw and Hornsby, it will be Hicks’ second.
All the training and riding and work is a small price to pay to honor the fallen, Hicks said.
“It’s the least I can do.”