Promoting Motorcycle Safety, While Honoring Veterans

November 13, 2008

Nearly 1,200 riders depart the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery following a Nov. 7, 2008, memorial service. The riders participated in a 60-mile safety and mentorship ride. U.S. Army photo by Chris Varville

Nearly 1,200 riders depart the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery following a Nov. 7, 2008, memorial service. The riders participated in a 60-mile safety and mentorship ride. U.S. Army photo by Chris Varville

One disturbing trend that has military leaders concerned, is the number of deaths of Soldiers while riding motorcycles, after returning from deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s something that isn’t isolated to one branch of the military or even to one particular area of the country. Motorcycle related deaths involving service members have soared and it’s a trend that has led many military leaders to take steps to ensure the safety of their Troops. It’s been surmised that Troops returning from the combat zone often crave the ‘adrenalin rush’ that they felt almost constantly while deployed, so they seek out activities that can provide a similar type of rush. One of those things are riding sport bikes, which are able to reach extremely high rates of speed in a very short time. Unfortunately, not all of our Troops who ride these motorcycles, do so safely and sadly the number of deaths has reached an alarming rate.

On the morning of November 7th at Hood Stadium on Fort Hood, the sound of almost 1,200 motorcycle engines split the air, as Soldier and civilian motorcycle riders participated in the first annual “Phantom Thunder” motorcycle safety, family time and fun ride. The ride also allowed the participants to honor the men and women who’ve served in this country’s Armed Forces and pay tribute to those who gave their lives defending this country. The rally was organized by the commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, Lt. General Rick Lynch. As he addressed the crowd, Lynch told them that he asks himself the same two questions every day. Those questions are: ‘Are we doing the right thing? and ‘Are we doing things right?’1

“What we’re doing today is, indeed the right thing,” Lynch said, noting that he implemented new rules for motorcycle riders on and off post, “because it is ridiculous to have survived the fields of battle and combat and come home and die on the highways and byways of Central Texas. I refuse to allow that to happen,” he said.2

Because Veterans Day was quickly approaching, Lynch used the motorcycle ride to accomplish another mission. To pay tribute those who have served in this country’s Armed Forces, today and in past battles. Lynch recognized World War II Veterans and singled out an 83 year old veteran who planned to participate in the ride.

“Thank you for your courage,” he said. “We complain about our 12 to 15 month deployments, but yours lasted five years. You and your generation mounted up and went to war and didn’t come back until the war was over. Just know we love you and appreciate you.”3

Besides Soldiers, other groups and organizations participated in the event. Two of those groups, the Patriot Guard Riders and the Combat Veterans Association were recognized by Lt. Gen. Lynch, for the things they do for our Troops and for our Fallen Warriors. Many of our readers are active in Patriot Guard Riders, working hard to ensure that the families of our fallen aren’t harrassed by protestors.

“You amazing people … have been at memorial services and funerals for our fallen comrades for the past six years, … and are there to assure that there is no disturbance to the dignity and solemnity of the event,” he said. “Thank You.”4

The Phantom Thunder event was an huge success at Fort Hood, as riders participated in a ride from Fort Hood to the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery located south of Killeen, Texas. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect with temperatures close to 70 and the skies clear. Upon arriving at the cemetery, Lt. General Lynch and Command Sgt. Major Neil Ciotola, presented a wreath in honor of all veterans and then saluted the traditional Army memorial with an M-16 firle and helmet on a pedestal.5 I hope that more installations will follow the lead of Fort Hood in holding such events to promote the safety of their Troops, who ride motorcycles.

  1. []
  2. []
  3. []
  4. []
  5. []


Got something to say?