State Port Pilot editorial:
This week’s Warrior Ride event, the Coastal Carolina Tour, includes stops in Southport, Oak Island, Caswell Beach, Shallotte and Calabash. These communities will host more than 30 injured veterans who use adaptive bicycling for rehabilitation and recreation.
If you have never witnessed a Warrior Ride event, you should attend. It is a ride to help build camaraderie and fitness among the participating veterans, some of whom can only pedal the bikes with their arms. For observers, it is an emotional ride that builds patriotism and appreciation for the men and women who have sacrificed to keep our country the greatest nation on Earth.
The Southport portion of the Warrior Ride this year also honors a local veteran who has been instrumental in the event’s success, helping to raise funds to bring the ride here and for years rounding up community support to make it a special day for the visiting veterans.
Retired U.S. Army Col. Charlie Sunder was the commander of Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point from 1972-74, and prior to that gained national notoriety for leading an expedition in Vietnam that opened a supply route to aid Marines in the thick of the battle there. Under his command, soldiers transformed a beach into an important transportation hub, thus giving his unit a name that even Gen. William Westmoreland used in his addresses—“Sunder’s Wonders.”
Equally important, after Col. Sunder ended command at Sunny Point, he chose to make Southport his permanent home and has remained active during those 40 years in his community as a volunteer and leader.
For 30 consecutive years, Sunder served as foundation treasurer for the Southport Lions Club and headed up the club’s vision assistance program, helping to arrange for free eye exams and eyeglasses for people in need for several generations.
It is fitting that the Warrior Ride founders, Bob and Debra Racine of Oak Island, name the Southport ride this year in honor of Col. Sunder. The riders will take the 10 a.m. Fort Fisher ferry to Southport on Thursday and arrive at the Southport waterfront for a ceremony around 11 a.m.
Col. Sunder plans to attend the ceremony and see the injured veterans off for their ride down Howe Street. It’s a great opportunity for the community to show support for our visiting veterans—and to honor one local veteran who has devoted his life to making his community a better place to live.