In motorcycle club, Vietnam veterans find open roads and open arms -
Published Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 5:13 pm / Updated at 10:26 pm
In Country Vets Motorcycle Club
In motorcycle club, Vietnam veterans find open roads and open arms

Only Vietnam War veterans know what they endured in the war and after they came back.

And so a group called the In Country Vets Motorcycle Club, strictly for Vietnam veterans, formed 19 years ago to share a love of riding, support one another and raise money for vets of all wars.

In the past three days, the organization brought to Omaha 135 members from more than 20 states for the group's annual national meeting.

“We're very independent, but we're also very co-dependent on each other,” said Dan “Trash” Strecker, the national vice president from Detroit. The organization “reinforces the bonds that we already had as combat veterans,” he said.

Each member has a “road name,” such as Farmer, Popcorn, Rev Ray or Animal. On their motorcycle vests, each wears a pin depicting a dinosaur, because this, Strecker said, is a “dinosaur club” with no legacy memberships. Once these members die out, the organization will end. The youngest member is 60.

Only those who served a combat tour in Vietnam can belong. Navy veterans who were in the Vietnam theater, or zone, and Air Force veterans who flew in the combat zone also can be members. Strecker said the group obtains each applicant's military record from the federal government to verify that he served in the Vietnam War.

In Country Vets Motorcycle Club raised about $20,000 over the past year from chili feeds, hog roasts, motorcycle poker runs and other fundraisers to give money to American Legion homes, VA hospitals, homeless veterans centers and other veterans' causes.

Strecker said Vietnam War veterans typically arrived in American airports alone from the war, a far different scene from the ceremonies and greetings that have welcomed veterans over the past 20 years from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Vietnam veterans fought in an unpopular war. Strecker said he changed out of his military uniform and into civilian clothing as soon as he landed in the United States because he anticipated derision.

Roy “Judge” Love of the Elkhorn area, the Nebraska state president of In Country Vets Motorcycle Club, said World War II was viewed as a heroic war and it frustrated him to “get told I wasn't in a real war.”

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have brought on a change in attitude toward all veterans, Strecker said, and they now are thanked for their service. Some members of the organization find this odd, Strecker said.

They take more comfort from the presence of others who fought in the Vietnam War. Strecker said: “We wanted to associate with men that went through what we went through.”

Contact the writer: Rick Ruggles    |   402-444-1123    |  

Rick covers health and medicine. He also occasionally covers cops, breaking news and events around town.

Sarah Palin, Mike Lee coming to Nebraska for Ben Sasse rally
Prescription drug drop-off is April 26
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Rather than doing $250K in repairs, owner who lives in lot behind 94-year-old house in Dundee razes it
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
PAC funded by Senate candidate Ben Sasse's great-uncle releases Shane Osborn attack ad
Teen killed at Gallagher Park was shot in head as he sat in SUV, friend who was wounded says
NB 30th Street lane closed
State Patrol, Omaha police conduct vehicle inspections
After all his bluster and bravado in the courtroom, Nikko Jenkins found guilty of 4 murders
A recap of what got done — and what didn't — in the 2014 legislative session
Bernie Kanger formally promoted to Omaha fire chief
U.S. House incumbents have deeper pockets than their challengers
Nancy's Almanac, April 17, 2014: Trees save money
Ex-Iowan behind landmark free speech case recounts story in Bellevue
Gov. Heineman signs water bill; sponsor calls it 'landmark legislation'
New UNO center strengthens ties between campus, community
Senate candidate Shane Osborn to include anti-tax activist Norquist in telephone town hall
Kelly: New $24M UNO center embodies spirit of newlywed crash victim
High school slam poets don't just recite verses, 'they leave their hearts beating on the stage'
Attorney: Man accused of trying to open plane's door needs psychiatric evaluation
49-year-old sentenced to 40-50 years for attempted sex assault of child
Brothers looking for pot sentenced for violent home invasion
At Boys Town panel, experts stress it's never too early to educate children
Arrest made in teen's shooting death at Benson's Gallagher Park
< >
Breaking Brad: How many MECA board members can we put in a luxury suite?
As a stunt at the Blue Man Group show, MECA board members are going to see how many people they can stuff into one luxury suite.
Kelly: Creighton's McDermotts put good faces on an Omaha tradition
A comical roast Wednesday night in Omaha brought fans of Creighton basketball laughter by the bucketful. This time it was McJokes, not McBuckets, that entertained the Bluejay crowd.
Kelly: New $24M UNO center embodies spirit of newlywed crash victim
Jessica Lutton Bedient was killed by a drunken driver at age 26 in 2010. Thursday, the widowed husband and other family members will gather with others at the University of Nebraska at Omaha to dedicate a permanent memorial to Jessica.
Breaking Brad: How much would you pay for a corn dog?
The Arizona Diamondbacks have a new concession item: a $25 corn dog. For that kind of money, it should be stuffed with Bitcoin.
Breaking Brad: Pothole repair crew gets stuck in a pothole
In East Lansing, Mich., a pothole repair crew got stuck inside a pothole. How did this not happen in Omaha?
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Dr. Welbes Natural Health Clinic
$129 for 2 LipoLaser Sessions with Additional Complimentary Services ($605 value)
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »