"These men gave their life fighting for their country, and not only were they military men of honor, they were decorated men," said Walter Oster, state coordinator for the project. "It's time that we take them home to Arlington were all the soldiers are buried. We are going to take them home to their brothers."
The seven-day journey begins on Thursday, when the escort leaves from Sacramento, Calif.
Riders will travel through Kentucky on Interstate 64, and plan to stop in Shelbyville to pick up additional motorcyclists. Winchester will host the official Kentucky welcome.
Oster said the group will gather in the Winchester Plaza parking lot for about an hour and a half to eat and gas up, starting at 1 p.m. Organizers will hold a recognition ceremony during the stop.
"We are so honored that the community here is going to find out about what is going on," Oster said. "This is a day for Winchester to be proud."
The Missing in America Project is the combined effort of private groups and state and federal organizations to identify the unclaimed remains of American veterans.
According to the project, Mays' grave was identified around 2001 by a group of area veterans and staffers at the Arizona State Hospital.
Mays received the Medal of Honor for heroic actions while defending an Army payroll transport from bandits in 1890. Mays crawled to a nearby ranch for help after receiving shots in both legs. The buffalo soldier survived the ordeal and died at Arizona State Hospital years later at the age of 67, according to Missing in America.
The two other soldiers whose remains are being transported also received high honors.
Johnnie Franklin Callahan received the Silver Star while serving in the Navy in World War II. According to the project, he saved the lives of fellow soldiers when he picked up a live Japanese bomb and threw it overboard. Callahan died in 1995 with a dream of being buried in Arlington.
James William Dunn also earned the Silver Star while serving in the Army during the Vietnam War in 1969. He rescued a soldier under intense enemy fire on a base and provided medical treatment that was credited with saving the man's life. Dunn died in 2008.
Oster said family members are accompanying the remains of both soldiers.
In addition, the escort will include Missing in America vehicles, motorcyclists from the California and Arizona and riders from at least seven Kentucky motorcycle groups such as the Kentucky Old Guard Riders, the Patriot Guard and the Marine Corps League.
Oster said the public is invited to attend the event, especially veterans and children.
Riders, whether on motorcycles and cars, are also welcome to join the escort for as long as they wish. The group will pick up people all along the route, he said.
"I'd love to see (Winchester Plaza) filled with a sea of American flags because these men are on their way home to Arlington National Cemetery on their last ride, where they will be buried will full military honors," he said.
Contact Mike Wynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.