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Dakota Thunder Run cruises to Sturgis rally

Motorcyclists ride out on the Dakota Thunder Run at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Aug. 7, 2018. Over 150 participants rode 53 miles from Ellsworth AFB to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, where they helped kick off Military Appreciation Day events. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Motorcyclists ride out on the Dakota Thunder Run at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Aug. 7, 2018. Over 150 participants rode 53 miles from Ellsworth AFB to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, where they helped kick off Military Appreciation Day events. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Retired Army 1st Sgt., Dana Bowman, a former Golden Knight parachute team member, skydives to the ground at Sturgis, S.D., Aug. 7, 2018. Bowman is a disabled veteran who lost both his legs while serving his country. He continues to skydive as a way to honor veterans and those who continue to serve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Retired Army 1st Sgt., Dana Bowman, a former Golden Knight parachute team member, skydives to the ground at Sturgis, S.D., Aug. 7, 2018. Bowman is a disabled veteran who lost both his legs while serving his country. He continues to skydive as a way to honor veterans and those who continue to serve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Participants from the Dakota Thunder Run fold a flag flown by retired Army 1st Sgt., Dana Bowman, a former Golden Knight parachute team member, as he parachuted to the ground at Sturgis, S.D., Aug. 7, 2018. Over 150 participants rode 53 miles from Ellsworth AFB to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, where they helped kick off Military Appreciation Day events. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Participants from the Dakota Thunder Run fold a flag flown by retired Army 1st Sgt., Dana Bowman, a former Golden Knight parachute team member, as he parachuted to the ground at Sturgis, S.D., Aug. 7, 2018. Over 150 participants rode 53 miles from Ellsworth AFB to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, where they helped kick off Military Appreciation Day events. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Attendees of the Dakota Thunder Run fold a large U.S. flag at Sturgis, S.D., Aug. 7, 2018. The flag was flown in by retired Army 1st Sgt., Dana Bowman, a former Golden Knight parachute team member, who parachuted to the ground at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally during their Military Appreciation Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Attendees of the Dakota Thunder Run fold a large U.S. flag at Sturgis, S.D., Aug. 7, 2018. The flag was flown in by retired Army 1st Sgt., Dana Bowman, a former Golden Knight parachute team member, who parachuted to the ground at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally during their Military Appreciation Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

A B-1 flies over Sturgis, S.D., commemorating Veterans Appreciation Day at the 78th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Aug. 7, 2018. Every first Tuesday of the rally is Military Appreciation Day, which honors all who have served and those who continue to serve in the U.S. military. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

A B-1 flies over Sturgis, S.D., commemorating Veterans Appreciation Day at the 78th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Aug. 7, 2018. Every first Tuesday of the rally is Military Appreciation Day, which honors all who have served and those who continue to serve in the U.S. military. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Col. Eric Hresko, the 28th Bomb Wing vice commander, addresses the crowd during a Veterans Appreciation Day event in Sturgis, S.D., Aug. 7, 2018. Every first Tuesday of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is Military Appreciation Day, which honors all who have served and those who continue to serve in the U.S. military. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Col. Eric Hresko, the 28th Bomb Wing vice commander, addresses the crowd during a Veterans Appreciation Day event in Sturgis, S.D., Aug. 7, 2018. Every first Tuesday of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is Military Appreciation Day, which honors all who have served and those who continue to serve in the U.S. military. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Col. Eric Hresko, the 28th Bomb Wing vice commander, addresses the participants of the Dakota Thunder Run at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Aug. 7, 2018. Over 150 participants rode 53 miles from Ellsworth AFB to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, where they helped kick off Military Appreciation Day events. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Col. Eric Hresko, the 28th Bomb Wing vice commander, addresses the participants of the Dakota Thunder Run at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Aug. 7, 2018. Over 150 participants rode 53 miles from Ellsworth AFB to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, where they helped kick off Military Appreciation Day events. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Members from the Green Knights Military Motorcycle Club and 28th Bomb Wing leadership hosted the 18th annual Dakota Thunder Run at Ellsworth Air Force Base on Aug. 7, where over 150 participants rode their motorcycles to Sturgis.

The riders started the Dakota Thunder Run at the flight line and, with a police escort, rode approximately 53 miles to the 78th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to kick off a Military Appreciation Day ceremony.

Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Cook, a 28th Munitions Squadron line delivery crew chief, had the honor of leading the riders into the rally.

“I was humbled by the ceremony and the veterans we honored,” Cook said. “We want to carry on the tradition of the Dakota Thunder Run and support those who have [served] and continue to serve our nation.”

Additional Military Appreciation Day events included a community flag folding ceremony and a skydiving demonstration by retired U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Dana Bowman, a former member the Golden Knights parachute team. Bowman is a disabled veteran who lost both his legs while serving his country. He continues to skydive as a way to honor veterans and those who continue to serve.

Ellsworth AFB leadership also took to the stage to address service members and veterans in the crowd.

“Whether you are currently serving in the military or have been part of the world’s greatest military, we applaud you,” said Col. Eric Hresko the 28th Bomb Wing vice commander.

The colonel gave thanks to all who attended the ceremony, and he gave his appreciation to the many Ellsworth AFB men and women serving around the world to deter adversaries and support U.S. allies.

“I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to remind all of you that, as I speak, there are more than 550 Airmen from Ellsworth deployed to areas around the globe,” Hresko added. “Luckily, we have strong support from our nation that allows us to focus on the mission at hand. We simply could not do our jobs without your support for us and our families.”

Giving further credence to the ceremony, a B-1 flew over the rally at 3 p.m.

“I really like that they do the flyover here – it’s one of my favorite parts of the week,” said Carter, a motorcycle enthusiast and regular attendee of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

“The sound of freedom is definitely loud,” he added with a laugh. "My ears are still ringing.”


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