How Vt. inmates are helping families of fallen war heroes - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

How Vt. inmates are helping families of fallen war heroes

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It's Marion Gray's first time in prison. She wanted to meet the inmates involved in the Harley Time program. Gray is the president of Vermont Fallen Families. The organization offers support to people who lost loved ones in battle. The inmates selected her organization to receive two restored motorcycles.

"I wanted to hear in their own words why they chose us," Gray said.

Harley Time is a course offered through the Department of Corrections' high school program. The eight-month class teaches young inmates marketable job skills, including how to overhaul motorcycles. Each year, the completed projects are donated to charities as fundraisers.

"I'm an auto body technician by trade, so I can take that to the table in here and share that particular skill with them," Mark King said.

King is one of the program's mentors. He's now serving time for murder, but says this program allows him pay tribute to 42 Vermonters who made the ultimate sacrifice. Meeting Gray gave the project deeper meaning. Her son was killed in Iraq in 2004.

"We know that your son, Jamie, is on here along with his fallen brothers and sisters. So God bless them," King said.

The inmates chose the design-- military blue with a gold star on the gas tank. There are 42 smaller stars underneath; one for each Vermont service member killed in the global war on terror.

"When we first started painting it, there was only 40. And John got a call from his boss saying I had to add two more. That brought some more tears to our eyes," King said.

Gray could not fight her own tears Thursday.

"I really want to thank you guys," Gray said. "Thank you Scott. And I wish you well on the outside."

She hugged and thanked each member of the team.

"They're wonderful kids regardless of the circumstances, in my book, for wanting to do this," Gray said.

The bikes will be finished and presented to the charity May 30, showcased throughout the state this summer and raffled off Sept. 7.

The donation ceremony will be held on Memorial Day at Oakledge Park in Burlington. The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Club will then bring the bikes to Randolph for the traditional wreath laying.

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