AUGUSTA — Motorcycles roared into the Maine Veterans’ Home in large and small groups Saturday morning for the 2017 Maine Fallen Heroes Bike Run.

It was billed as the first annual event, and after offering residents of the home brief rides on a trike or bike, scores of motorcyclists took off for L-A Harley in Lewiston behind Kennebec County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy York, who was detailed to see them as far as the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Bridge, between Gardiner and Randolph.

Many of the residents at the Maine Veterans’ Home wore ball caps indicating they were veterans of World War II.

Norman Gervais, 91, was one of them. He said he liked his ride atop the 2003 Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide trike driven by Alfred Tuttle, of Madison.

Gervais said he used to have a motorcyle of his own. “I got that when I got out of the service in 1945,” he said, with some prompting about the year by a friend, Raymond “Jinks” Pauley. Gervais, Pauley and a group of other men were seated in wheelchairs near the home’s front entrance.

Pauley, 60, said he didn’t plan to ride. “I was scared I’d get the bug,” he said.

Pauley said he used to ride both a Harley-Davidson Sportster 1000 and a dirt bike. “I’m mildewing, though,” he added.

Another of the group, Richard Patterson, said Gervais “was just a-smiling” when he finished his ride.

While admiring the passing motorcycles, including a pair of spotless white Indian motorcycles, Patterson, 79, said he never owned one because he was more interested in custom cars.

Leo Small, 94, formerly of West Gardiner, took a spin as well.

“It was a little tough getting on and off,” he said. “The ride was all right.”

Small, who served in the Air Force as a mechanic, said he used to put about 12,000 miles on a motorcycle each year for about a dozen years.

The veterans and their supporters cheered each time someone took a spin on the bike.

“Hang on, Mary,” they hollered as Mary Lane, 78, of Waterville, took a turn. The ride went well despite what she termed “a stiff leg.” She served in the Air Force in 1957.

“I was in radar, which is no longer in existence,” she said.

David Reed, 95, formerly of Boothbay Harbor, refused an opportunity to ride, despite the encouragement of his daughter, Mary Beth Coniff, who was visiting.

“No way,” Reed said. “I’m not interested. The best way to get killed is you ride one of those.”

Reed had moved to the Maine Veterans’ Home recently. “It always has something going on,” she said. “It keeps him engaged.”

The bevy of bikes brought back memories to Mike Munoz, who was born and raised on Guam in the western Pacific before moving to California, and then he worked as a supply officer for 23 years. He retired from Brunswick Naval Air Station just before its closing.

“I used to ride a motorcycle when I was young,” he said. On Sunday, he was content to sit and watch.

Tim Murray, of Benton, was busy polishing his 2013 Harley-Davidson Street Glide with the license tag “SEMPAFY” while waiting for his brother and sister-in-law to arrive.

The event was set up as a partnership between the Maine Fallen Heroes Foundation and Maine Veterans’ Homes Augusta.

The donations would be shared by the Gold Star Kids Trust Fund and the Augusta home’s activities fund, according to a news release from the Maine Veterans’ Homes.

On Saturday, Dean Barron, who helped organize the bike run, said that the group had identified 20 to 25 children of Gold Star Families in Maine from ages 3 to 15 and said the Maine Fallen Heroes Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group, does a number of things, including offering scholarships every year.

Barron’s son, Cpl. Joshua Philip Barron, a 2007 graduate of Bonny Eagle High School, who served in the Marine Corps, disappeared March 15, 2011, and was found dead six days later.

Barron said he hoped Saturday’s event would garner $5,000 to $6,000.

Steve Greve, of Hallowell, was one of the motorcyclists, arriving for the event on his Honda 700.

“I can’t manage the weight of the Harleys,” he said, showing how the cane he was leaning on could be folded into four pieces for storage in a saddlebag.

He said he was attracted to the event particularly because it honored veterans. “I’m a child of the Vietnam era, and I lost a lot of friend during that time period,” he said. “I like to give them the respect they deserve.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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