Bikers, strangers travel 1,000 miles to lay fellow veteran to rest in Kentucky

Honoring the dying wish of WWII veteran Wallace Taylor, a group of bikers traveled nearly 1,000-miles, laying Taylor to rest beside his mother here in Louisville.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Veterans and caring strangers drove the remains of Colonel Wallace Taylor to rest beside his mother in a Louisville cemetery.

“The final salute” is a phrase used at Haley VA Hospital in Tampa, Florida.

When a veteran dies, every employee lines the hallway and salutes as Taps play.

If that body goes unclaimed, Tampa veterans go “the final mile.” Or, in this case, the final thousand miles.

“This is the first long distance one that they’ve done,” David Ballard, ride captain for the Kentucky Patriot Guard, said.

Members of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (CVMA) completed the journey from Tampa, Florida. 

It was a final wish of Wallace Taylor, a technical sergeant honored as a colonel by the Commonwealth.

The escorts normally have at least six riders, this one had dozens.

Ballard said, “We might look like a bunch of leathered up old people but, we are family.”

That family doubled as the caravan pulled into Resthaven Memorial Park on Sunday.

Some seeing their own family in the man who died without one.

“He fought in the Korean War, my father fought in the Korean War and I think it is just showing respect for our elders who have done something for us,” veteran Tom Bentley said.

Respect is something Robert Lynch pays in full every day he shows up to the Haley VA Hospital, where he met Colonel Taylor seven years ago.

He described the moment while laughing, “Big ole Colonel’s hat on – the first thing he said to me was, ‘Son, why aren’t you wearing a three-piece suit?'”

Lynch said the colonel had a hard shell, that he used to make sure folks showed up for their veterans.

 “I can see him now,” Lynch said. “Looking down, saying, ‘Robert, the VA finally got it right.’”

The CVMA estimated the costs of their round trip to Louisville at $10,000.

Donors have already contributed more than half of that goal to the group’s GoFundMe page.

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