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May 6, 2016

An 90-year-old Kentucky native bikes across the country to honor fellow veterans

On his bike with nothing but open road and warm spring temps to guide him, Oldham County native Bruce Heilman said: "It is ultimate freedom."

If you were to see him at a stop light, you'd never know that Heilman is a senior on a mission.

"There's a 90 year-old guy riding a Harley," he explained. "I see it as an adventure, as a challenge. I am riding from Richmond, Virginia to the West Coast."

His purpose is to honor those loved and lost in World War II. "It's a commemoration of what happened," said Heilman.

Some are veterans he knew and served alongside in the Marines. Others will forever be brothers he'll never meet.

"I was in the battle of Okinawa," he said. "Some gave all. They're the heroes," Heilman added.

His generation is growing thin. What they went through is becoming a chapter in a history book. "By the 75th anniversary, there won't be many of us around to know that we're being acknowledged," explained Heilman.

So, he has his jacket zipped and helmet on tight. In the coming days and weeks, Heilman's Harley will take him to memorials in Indy, the legislature in Iowa and the statehouse in California. He'll meet with fellow riders and vets during the 6,000 mile journey which will wrap up on Memorial Day in Washington D.C.

This isn't his first cross-country trip. Will it be his last? "I hope not," he said. But if it is, at least he says he'll know he got more than a full tank out of this life. "You don't quit doing things because you get old. You get old because you quit doing things. I'm staying young," said Heilman.

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