Bikers salute heroes

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Gov. Charlie Baker speaks during a ceremony for the sixth annual Boston’s Wounded Vet Run. Honorees, from left, are Marine Sgt. Eric Rodriguez, Marine Sgt. Kristie Ennis, Army Specialist Sean Pesce and Army SSG James Clark.

BY GAYLA CAWLEY

REVERE — More than 6,000 motorcyclists participated in the sixth annual Boston’s Wounded Vet Run on Saturday.

Five wounded military veterans were honored in the North Shore ride, including a woman for the first time. All the proceeds will support modifying housing, transportation and other life-improving needs they may have.

The vets are Marine Sgt. Kirstie Ennis, of Sudbury, Army SSG James Clark, of New Hampshire, Sgt. Peter Damon, of Middleboro, Army SPC Sean Pesce, of Connecticut and Marine Sgt. Eric Rodriguez, of California.

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) and guest speaker U.S. Marine Lt. Colonel Thomas Armas attended the event. The 25-mile ride began at the Boston Harley-Davidson dealership in Revere and ended at Suffolk Downs in East Boston.

In 2012, a Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion, the largest helicopter in the U.S. military, that Ennis was aboard went down during a combat resupply run to Forward Operating Base Now Zad, Afghanistan. Everyone survived, but the crash left her with a shattered jaw, broken bones, burns, cervical and lumbar spine damage, traumatic brain injury and a hearing impairment. One of her legs eventually had to be amputated. After 38 reconstructive surgeries and years of cognitive and speech therapy, Ennis s scheduled to appear on the U.S. Paralympic Team.

Clark lost his leg and part of a foot in a 2009 Afghanistan deployment to a bomb. He is married with two children and works at a western Massachusetts diner.

Damon lost both of his arms in Iraq in 2003. The accident occurred while he was fixing a Blackhawk helicopter tire that malfunctioned and exploded. He owns and operates an art store and paints.

Pesce was shot 13 times in a firefight in Afghanistan. As a result of being shot in the spine, he is paralyzed from the waist down. Funds will go towards his foundation, Rangers Lead the Way.

Rodriguez lost a leg and his other one is severely damaged after being wounded in Afghanistan by a bomb. He plays Paralympic basketball for the U.S. Marines.

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