Hundreds of motorcycle riders revving up for Oklahoma City memorial run

By Robert Medley The Oklahoman

From left, Steve Capps, Willi Butler, David Dunn, and Brian Wells are outside the Oklahoma City National Memorial on Wednesday. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

From left, Steve Capps, Willi Butler, David Dunn, and Brian Wells are outside the Oklahoma City National Memorial on Wednesday. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

The day of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing was a day retired Oklahoma City firefighter Willi Butler won’t forget.

Butler lives with memories of the horror each day. But for those in his motorcycle club looking back on it all 19 years later, a fundraiser for the Oklahoma National Memorial & Museum is maintaining its ground.

More than 600 motorcycle riders are expected to rev up for the seventh annual Oklahoma City Wind & Fire Memorial motorcycle run.“It’s all about the Murrah building. The guys who ride in our club are firefighters who were on-duty then,” said Butler, a Wind & Fire Motorcycle Club member and spokesman.

On April 19, 1995, Butler, 59, was an Oklahoma City firefighter stationed at NW 23 and Drexel Boulevard. When the Murrah Building was bombed he responded to what he was told was “an explosion at NW 5 and Harvey.”

For several hours that morning firefighters were kept back for fears there was a second bomb, Butler recalls. The next day Butler helped FBI agents search for parts of the truck that had the bomb in it and exploded. For 18 days he helped in the rescue and recovery efforts.

This year is the seventh Wind & Fire memorial motorcycle run and the first one to fall on April 19.

The motorcycle run will raise money for the national memorial maintenance, Butler said. Mowing the site alone is a major expense so upkeep is a constant challenge, he said. Entry fees, $20 for one rider, or $30 for two riders on one motorcycle will be donated to the memorial’s upkeep.

“It’s a personal gratification to know we can still help keep the memorial beautified for years to come,” Butler said.

The Wind & Fire club also raises money year-round to help uninsured fire victims in central Oklahoma.

Registration for the run will be 10 a.m. Saturday at Papa’s Leather Barn, 6623 NW 23 in Bethany. Riders will depart at noon and head toward the national memorial downtown.

Oklahoma County sheriff’s deputies will be escorts from Bethany to the national memorial. At the memorial a wreath will be left in honor of the 168 people who died as a result of the bombing.

Riders will head west to El Reno, then to Mustang and ending at Margarita Island, 8135 NW 10.

Butler said this is expected to be the biggest motorcycle run the club has made.

“We just ask that everybody have a safe ride,” Butler said. “There will be a lot of people.”

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