Tim volunteers his heart and time as he escorts the WorLd War II Veterans Ride
As a motorcycle police officer and avid rider, Tim Siemek, S&B Soft Craft Area Operations Manager, has driven his motorcycle thousands of times. But this ride is different. For the third year in a row, Tim is the lead escort for the VFW World War II Veterans Memorial Ride. Tim glances in his rear-view mirror at the procession behind him knowing he is giving back to our country’s war heroes.
The memorial ride was created with one mission: honor WWII veterans. For those who participate in the ride, it begins early in the morning at the VFW Hall on Campbell Road in Houston, Texas. The group escorts the veterans to the WWII Museum in New Orleans for a Veterans Day ceremony.
As Tim rides his motorcycle and leads the procession on I-10, there’s something missing—traffic. At 6:15 a.m. in the morning, the freeway is normally packed with vehicles for typical rush-hour traffic. The 6-lane freeway is completely shut down for the ride. Police cars block any outside drivers from getting on the freeway.
The freeway hasn’t always been closed for the ride. The coordinator with the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. contacted Tim and asked, “How can we make this more special?” As a rider for a law-enforcement motorcycle club called Back the Blue, Tim quickly suggested doing an escort. Tim has volunteered to escort many veterans who have passed away. Now, he will continue to donate his time to the World War II ride.
“By adding the escort aspect to the ride shows the veterans we do care and are grateful for the sacrifices they made for our freedom,” said Tim. “I met a veteran who was at the Battle of the Bulge and another veteran who stormed the beach in Normandy. These are incredible individuals who have survived these events and deserve to be honored.”
Coordinating across counties
While Tim is the lead escort, he also plays another critical role as the ride coordinator. Across 4 counties, 7 parishes, and 360 miles, he makes everything look seamless. Tim contacts and works with several different agencies to schedule the times to close the freeway. He coordinates with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, Chambers County Sheriff's Department, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Louisiana State Police, and the Houston Police Department that escorts the ride through downtown.
“You have to make sure all of the times are exact,” says Tim. “The agencies we are working with are closing the roads. We can’t have them waiting on us.”
Over the past 3 years, more people participate in the ride. The first year started with six units and has grown to 50 units. For the third ride, 125 people were a part of the event with 18 veterans.
“People don’t realize it, but there are not many living WWII veterans,” says Tim. “In the most recent ride, our youngest veteran is 101 years old, and our oldest veteran is 105 years old. We need to honor them while we still can.”
Humbleness and humility
While Tim organizes most of the ride, he will be the first to say it’s a team effort. Tim takes the same approach in his manager role at S&B.
“Tim leads several S&B initiatives that have tremendously improved how we operate,” says Scott Pope, Vice President of Field Operations for S&B. “He works with a team but doesn’t want any credit for a successfully completed project. Tim truly believes in humbleness and humility. This is why Tim is a great leader in everything he does.”
Tim will agree. He doesn’t want a pat on the back. “The best leaders lead from behind, not the front,” says Tim. “I do things because it’s the right thing to do.”
Never sitting still
As an S&B manager, Tim also continues to be in law enforcement with the Gonzales Constables Department and Jamaica Beach Police Department. That might be a lot for some people, but it’s perfect for Tim who likes to stay busy.
In addition to the VFW World War II Veterans Memorial Ride, Tim also participates in rides for other causes to promote awareness for breast cancer, prostate cancer, and brain cancer in children.
“There’s always something to do or a way to give back,” says Tim. “And I don’t have plans on stopping.”
“For anyone who knows Tim, he doesn’t like to stay still,” says Scott. “Tim is always finding a way to make our company and communities better, and making sure the right people are recognized for what they do.”