World War II veteran on a cross-country mission

Posted at 5:10 PM, May 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-18 19:28:40-04

The University of Richmond's Chancellor is using his summer off to ride his Harley across the country and back.  But, the World War II veteran isn’t taking a joy ride, he’s on a mission. 

“Life is either a great adventure or it's nothing.  So if you're 90 and you want to ride a motorcycle and you don't ride, then you give up an adventure,” said Dr. E. Bruce Heilman.

Two months away from his 90th birthday, WWII veteran Dr. E Bruce Heilman is on the adventure of a lifetime. 

Weeks ago Heilman hopped on his Harley in Richmond, VA and began riding across the country.  On May 8th, he started making his way back home.

Heilman’s cross country mission is not only to bring awareness to the upcoming 75th anniversaries of major WWII events, but he wants to acknowledge the many sacrifices veterans and their families have made. 

“Everyone of them signed a paper saying I’m willing to die for my country and every veteran since signed the same thing, that's the essence of why we have freedom in our country today,” said Heilman. 

Heilman isn’t making the almost 6,000 mile round trip alone.  American Legion Riders from state to state ride with him. 

On Wednesday, American Legion Riders from Nebraska rode with Heilman to Shelby, Iowa where he was picked up by riders from Iowa. 

“If I can just start my rocking chair at 90 I will be plenty happy,” joked Omaha American Legion Rider, Bob Swanson.

“He’s a tremendous inspiration to us,” said rider Pete Bell. 

Wednesday’s ride takes Heilman to Des Moines.  He’s scheduled to arrive in Washington, DC just in time for Memorial Day.

Believe it or not, this is the second time Heilman has made his cross country trek for veteran’s awareness. 

On Friday, Heilman is scheduled to meet with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.