On a fair, sunny day, brothers in arms from different military branches had an opportunity to bond over lunch, their shared experiences and a unique collection of military vehicles.
Motorcycle riders from the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Combat Veterans gathered together Saturday to tour a garage lot filled with a collection of tanks, Humvees and other vehicles that reminded them of their tours of service.
The lot is owned by Pastors Paul Veluzat and Andre Veluzat of Village Church of Santa Clarita, who guided the tour, showcasing the various armed vehicles used for films and movies. Some notable shows for which the Veluzats provided tanks and jeeps include the show “M*A*S*H” and the movie “Valkyrie.”
Max Morgan, event chairman of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, helped organize the event. Morgan said the organization allows combat veterans to come together, hang out, show camaraderie and ride their bikes together.
Morgan was a Navy SEAL during the Vietnam War and said that, when he came home after the war, many veterans were met with negativity.
“When we came home, we were met with riots, demonstrations and repulsion,” Morgan said about returning home from war.
Many Afghanistan and Iraq veterans have reached out to Morgan and his era of veterans because they acknowledged the deep pain that faced Vietnam veterans and how it’s very different for the current troops coming home from overseas.
“A lot of us have physical and emotional injuries from the battles we fought,” Morgan said. “This is a form of therapy to get together and have some time.”
The event included a tour of the property, a catered lunch and featured Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, as guest speaker. He elaborated on his time in the armed forces and on his contribution to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“I got to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 during the first six or seven months there and doing bad things, to bad guys who were trying to hurt our good guys on the ground as the Marines and Army soldiers marched north out of Kuwait into Baghdad and Tikrit,” Garcia said.
Kevin Duxbury is a current Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s deputy and remains close to his military brothers as chapter 3310 commander of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association.
Duxbury said that seeing the armored vehicles and joking about time in the service is important for all the veterans who attended the event because it’s a common bond to talk and see the equipment their military brothers used during service.
An issue many veterans face is the feeling of being alone, not having someone to talk to, and according to the United States Census, only 7% of the adult population are veterans.
“It’s a very small group, so it can get lonely out there, and personally, I have no family members that ever served in the military,” Duxbury said. “I’m the only one, so I can’t even talk at home about it, but when I get together with these guys, I’ve got all kinds of people to talk to and sometimes we don’t even need to talk.”
The CVMA is a national nonprofit organization with more than 3,000 members and a motto of “vets helping vets.”
“A lot of what we do is poker runs, rides or charity events to raise money to help support veterans,” Duxbury said. “It’s a really great organization that’s out there helping other vets, but at the same time, that also means helping each other.”
Additionally, the local chapter plans to do a motorcycle ride to raise donations and donate to a charitable organization in June.
Duxbury thanked Morgan, the Veluzats and all veterans who served for the United States. He added that not all the events are charity runs but also moments for veterans to bond as brothers.
He added: “It’s just a good way for us to maintain our sanity and just remember that we’re not alone.”