1. #1
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Jul 2004

    Default Dale Schwitalla Memorial Ride

    Here is a report from About Motorcycles Forum on the Memorial Ride. Dale was known to us as 'Vinnie'.

    The Vinnie Memorial Ride was, as with most gatherings of Forum Family members, a success because of the participation of many. This review is a composition by showmnship, BillWoodHOST, and Dok Meteor in hopes that we can bring you all of our impressions and viewpoints.

    The three of us left Scott and Debbie's home In Cedar Rapids on Friday making the four hour ride to Owatanna, MN without incident. When we arrived at the Super 8 Motel, JohnnieG2756 was here to greet us and we shared an evening meal and got to know one another better. The following morning, VoyagerXII arrived from Wisconsin and the five of us visited over coffee and breakfast. As we loaded bikes and prepared to leave, Shooter pulled in and we spent another portion of an hour drawing yet another member into our family. The skies were dark with clouds, and the forecast called for thunderstorms and high winds, so we all suited up with raingear. We followed Road Captain Dok 2 hours north, arriving in Hutchinson, MN, where we added yet another rider to our group, Oldwing and we enjoyed lunch together before we left for our final destination. The skies were still threatening, but we seemed to skirt the storms and experienced only a few stray drops of rain. After another hour's ride, we came to St. Cloud and were greeted by Linda, Lil & John Schwitalla, Linda's sister & brother-in-law, Marie & Mark, Vinnie & Linda's children, Ryan, Heather and Jacob, along with extended family and friends, standing on the front lawn of the Comfort Inn and waving us a fond welcome! As we pulled in, we were joined by Mattoidtoo and one of Vinnie's brother firefighters, Assistant Chief Gary Fletcher, complete with Fire Rescue Truck. Shortly afterwards, a couple of additional riders, who were friends and firefighters with Vinnie, also joined the group and the parking lot became a place of greetings, hugs, handshakes, back slaps and long-awaited introductions.

    With the arrival of Father Ron at the motel, we were ready to ride to the cemetary for a short ceremony of rememberance at Vinnie's final resting place. Lead by the rescue truck, complete with lights and sirens, our procession of bikes with passenger pegs down and 2 4-wheeled vehicles with family members inside, stopped traffic at the intersections and left no doubt in the minds of those who watched us pass that we were "on a mission!" We gathered at Vinnie's crypt, which was decorated with one of his favorite hats, a minature firetruck and 3 red roses, and Father Ron led the group in prayer and read from the Bible. He then invited those present to speak, if they cared to, and many of Vinnie's family and friends shared their memories and thoughts - most highlighting Vinnie's extraordinary sense of humor and abilitiy to make others laugh. A highlight of the ceremony was the releasing of four white doves by Linda and Vinnie's children and the birds made a spine tingling sight against the black clouds that still threatened, but never opened themselves on our group. Father Ron then held a brief Blessing of the Bikes ceremony, sending us on our way with prayers for our safe trips, wherever we were headed.

    The Rescue Truck then escorted us back to the hotel, where the children headed for the pool and the grownups freshened up, anticipating an evening of sharing a meal and more time for visiting and getting to know everyone. Old Chicago opened their party room to us and it was a wonderful opportunity to relax and get to know both the family members present and the firefighters that joined us. As the local folks said their goodbyes and our group became smaller, we retired to one of the hotel rooms, where Linda and Marie treated us all to homemade pies and cobblers, complete with ice cream, and Lil shared homemade brownies!

    Saturday morning, the parking lot found firefighter Joel awaiting us with a pumper truck from Vinnie's station to lead our riders to the station, where his fellow firefighters planned to commemorate Vinnie's passing by planting a tree on the front lawn of the station. As we rode slowly through town, following the firetruck with Jacob and Linda riding in it, and Heather enjoying the pillion seat on Mattoidtoo's Vulcan, and Marie and Mark joining us on their Goldwing, it was a wonderful tribute to a "fallen hero." At the Fire Station, all of the firefighters greeted us warmly and showed us a beautiful granite plaque that will be permanently affixed to a cement stand at the base of the tree. Everyone participated in the planting of a lovely maple that will stand for many decades to come in honor of the firefighter's lost brother and our departed friend.

    It became a photo opportunity deluxe and we're certain that all of those present will be sharing pictures in the coming days, but suffice it to say, there was a lot of "see you again soon's" and "when you're in our area, be sure to stop's" and "we're so glad you came's!" From the firestation, everyone went their separate directions, with many wishes for a "safe ride" and plans for some to see one another in July. As Scott's earlier post said, Vinnie's passing left a void... our hopes were that we could help fill that void with some "good" things, and if Vinnie's family are any judge, we did just that. As a personal note, we're quite certain that the sound of the pipes as we left the cemetary brought a smile to Vinnie's face and we know that sharing the day with his family brought a smile to ours.
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  2. #2
    Forum Member
    RspctFrmCalgary's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Now in Victoria, BC. I'm from beautiful Jasper Alberta in the heart of the Can. Rockies - will always be an Albertan at heart!


    A very moving tribute ... thanks for sharing.
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Honorary Flatlander


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