Sometime ago, we did two articles about Gerry Heath’s troubles with his neighbors in Rocklin, California. Gerry is a terminally ill US Marine, a Vietnam Veteran, and a friend of his just wanted to give him one last day of fun and fellowship with USMC brothers and sisters. So on June 6, the Marines landed in Rocklin to whisk Gerry off to an event at the Valencia Club in Penryn, California.
He was threatened with eviction. His neighbors said the motorcycles would be a bunch of ‘racists’ coming to their neighborhood. The judge called it a ‘goon squad.’ They also complained about the “disruption” of the peace and quiet. None of it stopped these Marines from their appointed task. They came to be a blessing to a fellow Marine who may not be around much longer. And he received more than he could have asked…a whole new life.
While everyone waited in the K-Mart parking lot, the riders went to “extract” Gerry from his home. Many people were awaiting the arrival of the riders at the end of the culdesac near his apartment. Each rider waited for their own moment to thank Gerry for his service to our nation and give him a hug. His friend said that he was overwhelmed with emotion.
At the parking lot in Rocklin, they planned out the route with the Rocklin Police. Four police vehicles, two in front led the way, and two had their “six” at the end of the riders. Gerry got to ride on the back of one of the motorcycles to the Valencia Club, which delighted him and brought a beaming smile.
There was a huge show of support: 2 Million Bikers to DC, the Combat Veterans Association, The American Legion, The Way Ministries, some non-affiliated veterans, and a civilian from the security industry. A church group also showed up in support. People lined the streets of Rocklin waving, and taking pictures. Cars honked their horns in support.
The Rocklin police took the riders to the edge of the city by a slow ride with lights. They cleared a way through the last intersection for the riders to continue to Penryn in safety.
At the Valencia Club, Gerry beamed as he fellowshipped with people who had heard of his difficulties.
A representative of SAFTA Security learned about the ride and showed up in support. They told the group that they train and help veterans get hired, and have a 100% success rate. A good connection was made for all of the veterans that day.
The sadness and a miracle
After the event, his friend Michelle loaded him in her vehicle and after some exchanging of phone numbers, headed off to home.
The very next day, Gerry had to put down his beloved Service Dog, Otis, who was 14 1/2 years old. The dog was too ill to continue, and Gerry couldn’t let him suffer anymore. The dog was Gerry’s best friend…and his grief has been tangible. A new dog would cost more than he can manage.
The miracle is that some members of a local church and some of the riders came to help Gerry move out of the apartment that had made his life hell, and took him to a new home within 2 hours. Then they took him to a pizza place called “Primo’s,” where the food is great and he was able to meet with his new friends.
Though Gerry lost his best friend, he has gained many new supportive people and veterans who will now be writing to him and visit him on occasion. He has turned the page on a new Chapter in his life, and though they say he is terminally ill, perhaps the support and love of friends will help him outlive the diagnosis. Semper Fi, Gerry!
Note- the organizer of this ride wishes to thank all who supported the event and Gerry in his time of need.
“I wouldn’t have been able to help Gerry if it wouldn’t have been for everyone to selflessly give their time and loving support.” Michelle, Event Organizer