Ride in Remembrance honors fallen public servants | VailDaily.com

Ride in Remembrance honors fallen public servants

Children of Eagle County Emergency Responders say the Pledge of Allegiance at Donovan Park on Thursday during the opening ceremonies of a celebration dedicated to Eagle County Emergency Responders that were lost in the line of duty.
Townsend Bessent | Townsend@vaildaily.com |

The fallen

• Eagle County Sheriff’s Deputy Oscar Meyer, 1937.

• Eagle County Sheriff’s Deputy John Clark, 1961.

• Gypsum Fire Department Firefighter Cruz Carvajal, 1993.

• Vail Police Officer Ryan Cunningham, 2001.

• Air ambulance pilot Tim Benway, 2005.

EAGLE COUNTY — The weather was kind this year to Moses Gonzales and the event he’s shepherded for the past 14 years — the Ride in Remembrance.

Gonzales, a town of Vail code enforcement officer, is retiring June 1. Just after he started with the town, he organized the ride, an event to honor local police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel who have died in the line of duty. Given that the event is always in May — around the time of National Police Week — the weather can be unsettled. There have been years when motorcyclists have been seen drying gloves in the men’s room hand dryers at Vail’s Donovan Pavilion. Other rides have seen snow alongside the road in Vail.

This year, the clouds started gathering in late morning, but the rain didn’t come — good news for those who rode their motorcycles.

Among this year’s riders were members of the Blue Knights, a motorcycle club for active and retired law enforcement officers. Members came from Garfield County. Retired Colorado State Patrol officer Bob Rupe, leader of the area chapter, rode in from Grand Junction.

Motioning toward his Garfield County club members, Rupe said “These guys called me and said they wanted some people up here.”

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Tom Wagenlander, the interim chief of the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District, said he was gratified by the turnout.

Tight-Knit Community

“It’s a good way to show respect for those who have fallen,” Wagenlander said. Noting that the emergency service corps is a tight-knit community, Wagenlander said many long-time emergency-service people either knew or were on call with the most recent people to join the county’s thankfully short roster of fallen public servants.

This year’s procession started at Freedom Park in Edwards, past June Creek Elementary School and Berry Creek Middle School. Along the way, crowds of kids and teachers cheered the scores of emergency vehicles, motorcycles and classic cars as they made their way to Vail. People on recreation paths smiled and waved, as did the kids at the Children’s Garden of Learning in Vail as the vehicles made their way east on North Frontage Road, then along South Frontage Road west to Donovan.

There, the group was met by a cheering crowd of kids, adults, cops, firefighters and military veterans.

“This is as big a turnout as I’ve seen,” Avon Police Chief Bob Ticer said as he parked his motorcycle in Vail. “It’s good to see.”

Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger was also pleased by the turnout.

“It’s important for the families (of the fallen) to know we remember their sacrifices,” he said.

‘Most Rewarding Job on the Planet’

Relatives of Ryan Cunningham and Tim Benway attended the ceremony. Cunningham, a Vail police officer, died in 2001 while working an accident scene on Interstate 70. Benway, an air ambulance pilot, was killed in a 2005 crash near Rawlins, Wyoming.

During his remarks, Colorado State Patrol Captain Richard Duran, who grew up in the valley noted there’s an overriding reason emergency service people put their lives on the line in all weather and at all hours of the day or night: “It’s difficult, but it can be the most rewarding job on the planet.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com and @scottnmiller.

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