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Military Service and Motorcycles


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So, given that Memorial Day is coming up, let me first say "thanks" to those of our members around the world who did their duty in so many ways. There are so many things to say "thanks" for but I don't seem to be able to say it well today. Just know that I'm grateful for what you've done. It's where the rubber meets the road.


Can I ask you to reminisce a bit? Tell us some stories of how motorcycling overlaped your service in the military.

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1986, San Angelo Texas, Tech School. Just finished a grueling year of Russian language training and had a year of systems training to go. My VW Scirocco S just spun it's bearings. Stranded, broke & weary. Hill Country was calling. It was time for a bike.


Enter one Honda Interceptor. What a great year 1986 was.

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1972 - Stationed at the Marine Corps Supply Depot in Barstow. Always wanted a bike, learned on the back roads on a Suzuki 350. Took the bus ( remember those?) to Long Beach and was the proud owner of a 1972 CL350 Honda. First freeway ride ever was the trip back from Long Beach to Barstow. My only tranportation, so after I broke my ankle playing basketball I filed a notch in the cast so I could shift , strapped the crutches to the seat and continued to ride. Lot's of looks as I passed folks on the freeway, pant leg flapping in the wind, big old cast up to my knee.


I still smile thinking about all the adventures my buddies and I had careening around the desert on that bike. Sold it to buy my first BMW, a mighty /6 600. Unfortunately it blew it's clutch climbing up Cajon pass riding it back from Fontana the day I bought it. Met Bob Brown for the first time as he repaired the clutch.


1974 - Sold it to a buddy when I transferred to Kansas City, where I bought an evil RD350 Yamaha. Evil in the sense that it was wicked quick but I had problems with the throttle. It always seemed to be pinned wide open most of the time! Taught me to let the bike do it's job going around corners.


Loved all the bikes I had while in the Marines.

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Hope it's OK to tell my Dad's story. He was in the Royal Engineers during WW2 and stationed on an airfield in southern England, I don't know a lot of the details because he wouldn't talk much about the war. He had been trained to drive a truck (and didn't get a real driver's license until the 1980s, used his army one). One day he ran the truck through the back of building which the army considered poor practice and gave him a motorcycle to ride instead, presumably because he could do less damage. One dark and stormy night a friend asked him to take a message to the next post across the airfield, since there was always the threat of enemy bombers his bike had no lights and half way across the airfield he met an unlighted truck coming the other way, it had those old fashioned extended axles and his leg hit one of them breaking in multiple places. This resulted in an extended stay in hospital, almost a year, and most of the rest of his life in pain from time to time. It was a good thing for me though as many of his friends were among the first to hit the beaches in France and didn't come back, he was assigned to a coastal anti-aircraft gunnery after he "recovered" since he wasn't fit to invade France (something every Englishman dreams of grin.gif ).


As far as I know he never rode a bike again after that but he put up surprisingly little resistance to me getting one when I was 16. In the mid 1970s we were playing volleyball with some friends in a farmer's field, the ball went off into the long grass and he chased after it. In the grass there was a brick lurking which he kicked full force and damaged his bad leg again. The hospital took all the new-fangled pictures and saw the previous damage, they offered to give him some new ultra-sonic treatment and he never had any pain after that. Bricks can be good for you...


I wish I knew more about his motorcycle career, short though it was, he's been gone for 15 years this month so there's no way to find out.

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I am currently away from my bike on temporary duty in Alabama for the Army. Won't get to ride for another 6 or 7 weeks. In 2003 I missed a whole year of riding due to a little trip to the desert. This military thing really interferes with my riding. You know, you have to have priorities and riding should be near the top!


I hope all of you have a great ride.

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I'm an Army Brat and spent my "Military Service" (20 yrs!) praying for my Dad. I grew up on military bases (Helmstedt, Berlin, Ft. Hood, Ft Bragg...). The one I spent the longest time at (let's just say we moved quite frequently - the joys of being in the military!) was Ft. Bragg, N.C. My motorcyling days began on that base.


Being on the base (especially the home to the 82nd, 101st, and Special Forces) there were lots of training facilities for GI's headed to VietNam, Korea and elsewhere. And for the 82nd and 101st, there were several tank companys that trained in the nearby fields. We'd watch as these huge armored tanks would rumble down the dirt roads practicing maneuvers. Tank after tank, after tank would roll by. Followed by GP's (jeeps to you civilians) and deuce-and-a-halfs trailers of water tankers and fuel in tow. These were pretty routine for us kids to watch in areas on the base where we really shouldn't have been to begin with...but we were military kids and frequently got into areas we were strictly forbidden from entering - like the replica VietCong village. For the most part the tank commanders couldn't care less, so long as we stayed out of their way (heck if they had rolled over us, they wouldn't have even noticed!) We were facinated not only by the sheer size of these tanks, but the number of them and their maneuverability.


So, the motorcycle connection...


In the 1970's every kids dream in my neck of the woods was to own one of those Sears mini-bikes Do you remember? No suspension; 3 1/2 hp briggs+statton lawn mower engine; single speed; handle bar with a throttle; footbrake was a plate that put pressure RIGHT to the rear tire. But gawd, were those fun. The little Sears mini-bikes were for us poor military kids - the rich kids had 3 speed Honda Trail 70s. But gawd did we have a blast on those. We routinely waited until the tanks would pass and then me with my buddy holding on for dear life on back would chase after these tanks (like we were really gonna catch 'em). Week after week we'd ride those bikes until they'd break or we'd run out of gas. That mini-bike was my first introduction to 'two-wheeling'. And the road I learned on was the 'tank-trails' (thats what we nicknamed 'em).


Now on one occasion, we kinda had a double-goof (ok...screwup). We're on the bikes and watching and waiting for the last tank to roll by. The diesel fumes were heavy that day and August in Carolina can be pretty sultry. Lots of dust and dirt getting kicked up as the tanks roll by (I'm sure they were doing 100mph - when you're 12 on a minibike thats what it feels like - probably really doing 35mph on those trails). Well, the last tank rolls by and I decide to get a quick jump on his trail. I throttle up, Jimmy on back holds on tight and we barrel out on to the trail. Now if you've never seen tank trails, they are VERY rutted from the heavy metal tracks on each side. We're blasting behind this tank and I'm actually thinking I might catch this guy!


And then I hear Jimmy yelling above the mini-bike noise, the tank clatter and the dust and dirt are flying. I turn around to see what the heck he was making such a fuss about and....HOLY CRAP, there's a tank right on our tail (goof #1 - guess what? that wasn't the LAST tank we pulled in behind). I wasn't sure he saw us or not, but I was gonna do everything I could to get the heck out from between these two huge tanks (we were really NO match for them on our Sears mini-bike). So I flip on the turn signal (no...wait this isn't an RT), and I'm looking for some place to scoot either left or right. I see an opening in the woods to right and tell Jimmy to hold on. I jerk the handle bars to the right and give it all the throttle this little Briggs and Stratton could muster (all 3 1/2 hp); we start moving to the right when I have this really strange sensation I've never noticed before. The front-end of the mini-bike feels a tad lighter than it ever had before. I go to turn it a bit more and then I realize...the bolts holding the handlebars had SNAPPED off (goof #2). So there we were; Jimmy screaming at the top of his lungs; US Military Tank #1483 in front of us and the barrel from US Military Tank #9167 on our tail; and me now with the handle bars....almost straight up in the air; no control what so ever.


Well we managed to make it to the right side of the trail and I did my first low side-get off. Jimmy and I add to the many cuts and scrapes two 12 year old military brats already collected that summer; but no broken bones (probably would have been worse if we hadn't been wearing our Aerostitches and Shoei Synchrotec helmets!)


Now fortunately for us, it turns out the Military Tank commanders are seated right up front (right underneath that barrel) and saw everthing from the bonehead move I made pulling in front of him and the handlebar now above my head. The tank rolls to stop and a couple of GI's coming running over to check us out. These guys were lauging so hard with tears collecting with the dust on their cheeks. They did a quick check that we were all right and then motored off in formation (it turned out there were actually several more tanks not just this one!).


And so began my 2-wheeling experience on a military base chasing tanks. I learned a lot from that experience (not the least of which was a 50 lb Sears mini-bike is no match for the thunder of our Military Tanks) and hold other fond memories of the freedom you get riding on a bike vs in a car.


For my dad, well, he never really knew to much about these little 2 wheel escapades because he wasn't there. He was busy protecting us military brats (and the rest of the nation) serving his second tour of duty in Viet Nam. I can't thank him enough for the sacrifices he made; And its not just on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. We need to remember everyone of our military that has given of their time, energy (and unfortunately many times...life).


Yea, we all got our 2 wheel start somehow. Mine was rooted behind the tracks of military tank...When you see my dad, tell him "Thanks"...(just don't tell him about this story!)




Mike O

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So there we were; Jimmy screaming at the top of his lungs; US Military Tank #1483 in front of us and the barrel from US Military Tank #9167 on our tail; and me now with the handle bars....almost straight up in the air; no control what so ever.



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In the spring of 1984 I completed basic and technical training at FT. Bliss in El Paso, Texas. The honda dealer in El Paso had a new in the crate 1983 Honda nighthawk 650 which I bought sight unseen for $2600. My only previous motorcycle experience was a Honda 70 trailbike with a 3 speed auotomatic. After riding for a few weeks I went to the Texas DMV to test for a motorcycle liscence. At the time you were required to have another person show up with a vehicle that an examiner could ride in. The "chase car" would follow you on public roads through a residential developement and than onto the highway. If they beeped once you were to turn left and twice for a right turn. I wonder if they still do it that way? Two weeks after obtaining my liscence I road to my first duty station which was Ft. Ord, in Monterey, California. I spent the next 2 & 1/2 years exploring the California coast before selling the bike to buy a car to drive back home to Pa. I missed not having a motorcycle when I returned home and soon after bought another bike. That was in 1987 and I haven't been without a bike since.

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In 1988, due to the recent standdown of the Pershing II missile system, I was cross-training into aircraft electronics at Ft. Gordon Georgia. This was a 7 month school so I was temporairly "permanent party."


At the time, we only had one car. Through a chance encounter, I ran into a fellow with a 84 Yamaha 400 Maxum who really liked my Anschutz Model 1806 target rifle. We swapped straight across and I learned how to ride a motorcycle. That motorcycle transported me back and forth to Ft. Gordon from my rented house in Augusta and eventually followed me to Savannah where I was to be stationed stationed.


Surprisingly, I only rode it a few times in Savannah. The military was pretty discouraging about motorcycles at the time and because Savannah, being a very dense city, riding was not much fun. And, most of my time in Savannah was spent in Saudia Arabia during the Gulf War.


Later, with young children and a new business startup, I lost interest, put it up for sale, and got out of riding for about 12 years.


But I'm back. And that little Yammy paved the way. smile.gif

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I spent a year in Monterey at the Presidio for language school back in 1989. I was one of the fleet returnees, a Sgt., and had a few other friends that were the same. We were there for the Tagalog language course, or the national language of the Philipines. During that year, a friend of mine found an old 80/7 in a garage in Carmel. We went out and picked it up and spent 6 weeks tearing it down, cleaning it and assembling it in the barracks. I had it painted for him as a surprise. It was beautiful. Well that boy rode it all of the time while I worked at a health club on the weekends. Gotta love them California girls!! He had wonderful stories, and even rode it to Sturgis.


We both moved to Hawaii and he ended up keeping the bike at my house for the three years we were stationed there. I fell in love with that bike and ended up riding it a bit. I decided that when the girls were old enough, I would get my own. Enter the 1100RT back in 01.


The rest in history....




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When I was stationed in Ft Stewart, GA back in '86, I picked up a Handa V65 Sabre - half croozer, half sportbike. I would ride it from GA to MA every other weekend to visit a gal I was seeing there... Friday night I'd leave GA, around sunup I'd arrive in MA, catch a nap, spend the day and a half with her, and then motor back Sunday afternoon so I could get about 4 hours sleep before Monday morning formation...

(So I guess I was an IB candidate, but didn't know it at the time...)


That bike died when I nailed a deer one night - I got it down under 40 by the time I hit him broadside. bent the frame and forks on the bike, and I was a bit bruised from riding up the tank and wrapping around the bars. I got a little bike (Suzuki GS650e??) for motoring around town, but thereafter drove my car to MA for the nookie runs...

(Got a ticket for 149 MPH in that car, but that's another story for another time...)


When I was in Germany, the (dipwad) unit commander forbade anyone under his command from having a bike - but I got one anyway. Kept it off base, and registered the bike in my a relative's name. (Who was a German.) It was some funky bike that I'd never heard of at the time (Ural) and I got it really cheap - but I put nothing but gas into it for two years, and sold it for exactly what I paid, so I couldn't complain...



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In 1964 of good buddy of mine and I were attached to sister squadrons stationed at Whidby Island, WA. One day he bought a Honda Dream and talked me into buying a 250 Ducati and helped me to learn how to ride. I had not ridden a bike before so my performance on the bike was not a thing of grace and beauty. Part of that was probably due to the fact that my buddies 250 Dream was the first bike he had owned also. crazy.gif


After we returned from our second tour of Vietnam we both bought Honda 305 SuperHawks and rode those until we were discharged in mid 1967. We both went to the same Minnesota college in the Fall of 1967 with the bikes our only mode of transportation. We took the summer 1969 off and rode the Hondas back to Whidbey then up into and across Canada to Gaspe' in Quebec then dropped down for 2 weeks reseve duty at Newport. After that he went south to Alabama, graduate school and eventually settled in San Diego. I went back to Minnesota, graduate school and after many moves eventually settled in the PNW.


In the intervening years he has owned another Honda, an HD and a BMW. I bought and sold of couple of Hondas over the years and stopped rideing when I was assigned to the DoD in Washington D.C. that was 20 years ago. Two years ago when I approached one of those defining decades of life I decided to start riding again. I was living in Vegas at the time and flew to San Diego to visit my life long buddy and ended up buying an 04RT. We both retired this year and plan on doing some cross country riding as we did many, many moons ago. Of course the wife isn't to keen on the idea.


The upshot of all this is if it were not for my military duty I probably would not have met a life long friend nor started riding nor accomplished many of the things that I have. As far as riding is concerned the thrill of getting on the RT and enjoying the backroads of WA with a like long buddy is as strong as it was the first time I got on that 250 Ducati many years ago. Just as an aside the Ducati end up off the end of a pier one night when I was in a less than sober state. blush.gif

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In 1986, I was a Marine Corporal stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Tustin. It was at that time that I purchased my first motorcycle, an 86 Kawasaki Ninja 600. Man, I was in heaven. My own beautiful bike, sunny, southern California weather and gorgeous women everywhere!


A week later, I went to work and was informed by our squadron SgtMaj, that we would be deploying to Okinawa, Japan for six months. During the entire six months on "The Rock", I thought of nothing but my precious Ninja sitting in storage.


On a side note, MCAS Tustin is now closed and abandoned. Five years ago, when I got my pilots license, I flew a Cessna 172 over those same runways that I had landed on so many times as a door gunner on CH-53 helicopters. What a feeling!


To those of you out there still serving, Thank you for what you do and all you sacrifice to do it!


Semper Fi,


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My first "motorbike" was a Lambreta (sp) scooter on Okinawa in 1959. I had it "hopped up" and custom painted and it would do 70 mph if I laid down on the handlebars. No helmet or any protective gear. How things have changed

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After wearing out a series of very used cars, sometime in late ’64 or early ’65 I rationalized the purchase of a new Honda 305 Super Hawk as a way to reduce transportation costs. Of course the fun factor was only incidental to the purchase decision. grin.gif As a self-supporting college student I was having a difficult time carrying the requisite full load to maintain my student 2S draft status while also working and playing. Actually the playing part was the biggest problem and the new Super Hawk certainly didn’t help.


Well, in early ’66 Uncle Sam “selected” me for service. The Super Hawk found a temporary home with the father of a good friend while I fulfilled my Army duties. The keeper of the Hawk had ridden an Army issue Harley in Europe during WWII but hadn’t ridden since. Unfortunately, the first or second time out on the Hawk the WWII Harley vet blew a rear tire at speed. Bike and rider survived unscathed, but the Hawk remained parked for the rest of my tour. After returning from active duty my priorities changed and I sold the Super Hawk. I only started riding again two years ago.

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1979 Corpus Christi, TX. Had too much time on my hands, waiting for flight school to start. Bought a Yamaha SR500, single cylinder, kick start. Light weight and narrow. I remember one time when bad weather was approaching, I was able to walk the bike into my BOQ room. Probably too light weight- went to the mall one night to get a jean jacket. Came out and the bike was gonebncry.gif. I figure a couple of guys came by in a pick-up and tossed it in.


The next spring I got the bug again and picked up a used Kawa Z1. Big difference in power and handling from the SR. After getting my wings I moved to San Diego. The traffic was crazy (to me)eek.gif. Sold the bike after a few months.


Took me 23 years to get the "bug" again grin.gif

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Can I ask you to reminisce a bit? Tell us some stories of how motorcycling overlaped your service in the military.


Thank you David for starting this thread! It brings back wonderful memories and I too have enjoyed ready the stories of other Vets.


While I had ridden a few motorcycles prior to going on active duty in 1970, my love affair with them started in the Navy at my first duty station (a Submarine Tender) in Guam. Several of my friends on the ship had dirt bikes and would regularly ride in the "boonies" (mostly off road mountain hiking trails in the interior of the island). I simply had to have a bike.


New Hondas and Yamaha's were unbelievely cheap when purchased in Japan with the dollar trading at $1 to 360 Yen at the time. Our airforce friends would reqularly take orders from the military folks on Guam and make runs to Japan and come back with a plane full of bikes. You would pay up front for the bike and almost always get it within a couple of weeks. However, I remember one plane returning with a cargo of over 30 new bikes that had to be dropped out into the ocean because they were running out of gas on their way home and and to lighten the load to make it back safely!


My first bike was a black and yellow 360 cc. single stroke Yamaha. Road that bike all over the island with frequent stops to emory cloth the points and the single spark plug to keep it running.


While stationed on Okinawa I purchase a 1979 Yamaha 750 cc triple. Wonderful bike with electric start and shaft drive. My wife and I explored ever inch of that island on that bike. As I left Okinawa for Bethesda, Naval Hospital in Maryland, I ordered directly from the Base Exchange a 1981 1100 cc Yamaha ($2,600) and had it delivered from the factory in Japan to the port in Baltimore, Maryland. Another great Japanese bike that I kept until just a year ago. It always started and required almost zero maintenance.


While it was not always popular with my commanding officers, I had a motorcycle at nearly every duty station over a 30 year career. smile.gif

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I spent 4 years in the Marine Corps and 18 years in the USN Submarine service. Motorcycles kept me sane in an insane sometimes work environment. They still do today. thumbsup.gif

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In 1965 I was stationed at Yakoda AFB outside Tokyo. Bought a new 305 Dream I guess it was and a new Bell helmet. I gave just under 400.00, in Yen of course, for both.


First motorcycle I ever owned and its a thousand wonders I didn't kill myself, didn't have a clue but I got with some guys that taugh me enough to get by.

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OK here we go. I joind the US Air Force (a registered paramilitary organization) in September 1965. At the time I owned a Jawa 350.




Rode it in tech school in Monterey and sold it before shipping off to Thailand. Returned to CONUS in 1969 (in somewhat of a daze) and bought a Honda 350 dual-sport while at San Angelo, here shown in pieces. It never let me down.




Off to Taiwan! Got a very early gold Honda 750, toured the island with my girlfriend, now wife of 32 years, sometimes in VERY cold weather believe it or not. Like the luggage?




Took it back with me to CONUS and San Angelo again, where I lived with scary friends.




Had the 750 painted epoxy black with white pinstripes (see, I was thinking BMW even then!)




Got out of the AF in 1973 -- not a shot fired in anger or, for that matter, in friendship. Since I was getting married, dumped the motorcycle and joined what passed for respectability in those days. Dig the threads!




The rest is history until the kids graduated, etc., when motorcycles returned to my life.

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I was stationed in Jacksonville Fla. in the early 70’s. I was poor as all servicemen, with a base pay of $152.00 the only thing I could afford was a Honda CB 160 Scrambler. Since 75% of my pay went to liquor and women and the other 25% was wasted I adopted somewhat of a minimalist attitude, no gloves, no helmet.


Ever ride in Florida in the winter? Lots of rain, lots of bugs. Well pretty soon I was calling my mommy begging for dollars to buy a helmet, thank goodness she bailed me out as Mothers always do.


Then the trouble started. Drawbridges are the bill of fair in Jacksonville, there steel, when it rains there slick, people in cars still try to occupy the same space your in, even back then. The first fall on the bike was sickening, broken turn signal, brake lever etc.

I went to the Honda dealer and got my new parts to fix her up, yep good as new.

Second crash same drill, back to the dealer.

Now by the time this had happened the fifth time, I’m getting a little miffed. These repairs were cutting into my 75% fund, well I guess it doesn’t look that bad.


My first Road trip, Mardi Gras. My friend, (male) riding on the back decided we would leave after school on Friday make it to New Orleans and be back in school on Monday.

So we hooked up with these two girls with cash and had a blast. There’s this situation the military calls Unauthorized Absence that is really frowned upon, and we committed this sin, we got back on Wednesday. Well we told them the truth and there were some senior people who I swear were smiling at the story. We got a bunch of extra duty, but it was all worth the risk.


That little Honda carried me 8,000 miles in the 9 months I was there, sold it the day before left.


Went to Viet Nam with KTMDoug's cousin and ordered a XLCH Sportster that I picked up the third day after my return.

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April 1972. Just completed 10 weeks of Navy Boot Camp at NTCSD (RIP) and was starting RM "A" school, also in San Diego. Needing transport and not much money, purchased a used Yamaha 350 from another sailor about to deploy for $400.00.


Had that bike for 4 years while stationed in San Diego. Rode it everywhere around SD, up and down the coast to LA and most cities in between. Even rode it to Phoenix and back (ONCE) to visit relatives, glad it was in November smile.gif. Didn't wear the proper safety gear (except for a helmet) as I do now but boy, what fun and what a great way to see Southern California.



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Joe Frickin' Friday
I'm really enjoying reading all these stories! thumbsup.gif


They're all good, but IMHO, the prize ought to go to Mike for his attempt to join the tank conga line! grin.gifgrin.gifgrin.gifthumbsup.gif

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Spent my military years (68-74) serving aboard nuclear submarines out of Charleston, SC. Hitting home port after spending weeks in the tube underwater, all I could think about was getting out of Charleston on my old 72 CB500 Honda 4. The bike had an early version of the Vetter Windjammmer, no saddle bags or tank bags. I stuffed everything into an old canvas duffle, strapped it to the bikes seat, donned my old Belstaff Trailmaster jacket and hit the road.

Those trips out of Charleston hooked me on long distance MC touring. Being a native Minnesotan, I explored the South with gusto. My favorite destinations were Cape Hatteras NC, northern Georgia mountains and the eastern coast of Florida. Remember riding through Deals Gap and the Dragon long before its rise to MC fame.

The Honda gave way to a used early 70s BMW R75. I've been on BMWs since.

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I rode various bikes for most of the years while I was in the military. Although I never found a way to combine riding with my military career, I do share stories of riding with soldiers and airmen. Through photographs, videos, and memories (many from this board), we remove ourselves temporarily to a place without roadside bombs, mortars, and a fair number of hostile people. We talk about people who don't realize how valuable the freedom of riding can be because they have never seen a place where the freedom doesn't exist, or does exist for that matter. Maybe biking is the answer to world peace, bringing all hostilities to an end. I can hope, right?

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While I didn't ride during my 10 years in the Navy, it was someone I met in the Navy that returned to Jacksonville and got me into this filthy habit!


He taught me much about riding, wrenching and recovering from accidents when you don't know how to handle the machine you bought. So, a couple years and a 100,000 miles later I am repaying the favor to him.


I am flying to San Diego in July to pick up his Replika and his truck so I can babysit while he continues to take the fight to the bad guys. I promised to help finish breaking it in for him and to replace the tires I wear out. He's even given me permission to sneak in a track day on it...!



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Bill Fowler

The minute I got off of active duty from the Army in 1965 I bought a new BSA Lightning Rocket even before I got a car of my own. My priorities are still about the same forty years later.

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In 1970 aboard the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt CVA-42 we were completing my 1st WestPac off Yankee Station (Vietnam).


The Navy Exchange folks out of Japan had come on board to sell stuff (stereo equipt, Cameras, watches and yes MOTORCYCLES).


The word got out fast that we could do this and when they left two days later they had sold 300 Hondas and Yamahas.


The ship stopped in Japan after we out chopped and there when we pulled in was a barge stacked high with the bikes in crates.


Some aircraft were transferred to the carrier that had relieved us and some room was available in Hangar Bay 1 to store the crates.


Now I'm not sure how many of you have ever returned home after being deployed but sleep is something that seems to be hard to do. So all the aircraft mechs (both ship's company and sqdn), ship's machinist and anybody else that wanted to pitch in began building bikes in the hangar bay.


They set up a ship's band also in the hangar bay, served sliders(hamburgers)and we built bikes almost non-stop.

What a great time.


When the final planes of the Sqdns flew off we had plenty of room to spread out the bikes.


The MWR (Moral, Welfare and Rec) folks worked with the Skipper to radio ahead to have a thousand gallons of gas available when we arrived.

The ADRs and the Mechs welded up three special pallets that would hold four bikes and when we pulled in the crane would lift a pallet from the lower elevator to the pier.


I ordered a Yamaha DT250 and rode it back and forth to the ship everyday and my wife used the beater VW Bug we owned. I made $178 dollars a month.


The DT became the 1st of a long list of owned motorcyles to this day.


This is only one of many, many Military and Motorcycle stories I could tell you folks about while I served 22 years in the service.


Lastly on this Memorial Day, I'd like to say thank you to all my brothers and sisters In-Arms out there that served or who are still serving our country. I always get a big lump in my throat when I see our flag wave.


I know you didn't or don't do it to be thanked but I must say, God Bless You!

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Dennis Andress

In 1976 I was in tech school at Keesler AFB, Mississippi when I spotted a brand new R90S. The seed was planted. I found a friend who would let me ride his Yamaha RD250 whenever I wanted. After a couple of months riding the RD through the Mississippi woods I bought a Honda 500-4 and rode even further around Mississippi. I also rode it to my first duty assignment at Dover, Delaware. Within a year I bought a 1978 Yamaha XS-750 and put a Vetter frame mounted room addition on it. Within six months of buying the Yamaha I was sent to Eielson AFB, Alaska, 30 miles south of Fairbanks. The bike got stored with my parents until my return 18 months later.


After Alaska the Yamaha and I were off to Castle AFB in Atwater, California. Atwater is near the geographical center of the state which means no mater which direction I chose to ride there was something cool within 150 miles. Two years later the Yamaha had over 50,000 miles on it and wasn’t very happy about it. Getting the clue I bought a 1976 R90S - I should have shopped around more. A year later I took it apart for bondo, paint, and a whole bunch of parts. It came out really nice.



In 1984 the Air Force sent me to Rhein-Main AB, Frankfurt Germany and graciously shipped my bike for free. A couple of months after the bike arrived I and a friend rode two up to Milan, Italy. Somewhere along the way 4th gear went away. That’s when I found him, Kurt Roesner the used BMW motorcycle parts guy. Buying a transmission from him turned out to be just the first drop in the bucket. Pretty soon I was picking through his basement full of parts finding the stiffest swingarm, the strongest frame, a 1984 R100RT engine. When I returned to the states the bike had the same airbox, license plate bracket and title.


I left the Air Force in 1986 after 10 years of service. During the time I served, peace was our profession, and we succeeded at that. Unfortunately our success left open a Pandora’s box of evil that our successors now have to deal with. God be with all of you who are serving now.

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I spent half of 1969 and half of 1970 in Vietnam. I was in a 155 mm self-propelled artillery battery. We spent most nights either firing under the direction of a forward observer in support of some eagle flight (helicopter insertion) or blowing the hell out of the country side shooting H&Is (harassment and interdiction). We occasionally took incoming, either 60 mm mortars or Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs, especially nasty). It is amazing how quickly you learn to tell the difference between outgoing artillery shells and incoming rounds, even when asleep. We worried a lot about ground attacks but I was lucky during my tour and never experienced one first hand. Compared to the infantry it was fairly safe duty. We spent some time in Cambodia and the Angel's Wing area of Vietnam in tiny camps where there was nothing but culvert-half bunkers we built ourselves and one strand of barbed wire. The nights could be nerve wracking. In Cambodia we had no reliable water supply. There was enough for drinking but none for washing. After several weeks of living in triple canopy jungle at 100 degrees and 100% humidity,we got pretty ripe. Finally, we scrounged a water trailer and arranged a helicopter to fly it back and forth to some water supply every day. The very first night we had the trailer, we were attacked and they blew it full of holes. That was it for wash water and we lived with the sweat for the rest of the time in Cambodia.


Whenever, I had any free time I looked at brochures for the BMWs. I don't remember what turned me onto BMWs. Before going to Vietnam, I had had a Honda (SuperHawk version). I returned from Vietnam on the 15th of July 1970. Bought a new 1970 R60/5 in August. It is still in my garage. After the first 170,000 miles I sold it to my son (for $1).

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When I was in the Navy assigned to a ship at the 32nd Street Naval Station in San Diego in the early 1980's I had a couple Suzukis - in order to get a base sticker back in those days i had to have a California endorsement (passed the test cold - it was hard!), wear hard-toed shoes, an approved helmet and gloves, and within a certain amount of time I had to go through the MSF course, which was put on by the Navy at the base. Great opportunity - the Navy gave me the time off and paid for the course - which as I recall was a 2.5 day course and was either the current MSF BRC or a predecessor (this was 1980 or so - does anyone know if it was the BRC back in those days?)


I remember in those days, California did not have a helmet law but the bases did, so you could sit outside the base at 1700 and watch sailors riding their bikes out the gate, holding the bars with one hand and taking their helmets off and putting them on their cissy bar with the other.


Just one more memory - first day of the course, two sailors were there with Harley choppers - this was a long time ago and these were old school, raked out choppers. When we did a safety inspection the first day on the range these guys were sent back to their ships because they failed - both had no front brakes. I remember when the instructor asked what happenned to their front brakes, one answered "took 'em off..."


Glad the military has always been out in front of safety - I understand they require the use of reflective vests now - that's just great.

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My brother was stationed on the FDR from Mayport, FL around 1975 until it was decomissioned.


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The military gave me my first chance to blame my job as the reason I needed a motorcycle. Back in the late seventies, I was a shift commander in the Air Force Security Police at Plattsburgh AFB. It was a good first job, but not what I wanted to do for the next twenty years, so I applied and was admitted to little-known law school in the Boston area. The Air Force put me on "excess leave," which meant that I was still on active duty, but in an unpaid status. The 280Z had to go--too expensive--and in its place appeared a new Yamaha RD400 Daytona Special (yeah, baby! thumbsup.gif), my first real motorcycle. I came "that" close to killing myself the first time I rode it, but it ultimately became my everyday transport. Less than a year into the ownership experience, a punk stole it from the locked underground garage in my apartment complex and proceeded to run into a cemetery wall at high speed. He survived, but spent three months in traction (yeah, baby! thumbsup.gif). I didn't press charges, feeling that a greater power had administered more appropriate justice than any court could dish out. Despite it being reduced to a pile of parts, I got it back to being a real bike and rode it until the Air Force decided to start paying me again.


The RD400 was sold and I again scammed another bike, this time a Honda CX500 Turbo, just before I reported to my first JAG assignment in England. I spent most of my road time in the U.K. on two wheels. It was a great place to ride; I just wish, in retrospect, that I had done even more riding and less driving. The CX-T puked its turbocharger within minutes of arriving back in the U.S. Perhaps it missed England as much as I did. The assignment back to the States involved being away from home 220 - 240 days a year, so motorcycling fell by the wayside and the CX-T was sold. Only after I left active duty three years later was I able to get serious about riding again.


For me, the choice to ride motorcycles was born of a life-long love of the two-wheeled beasts, but the financial limitations I faced in those years served as both an excuse and an impetus to become a for-real rider. It's quite likely that, had I not been a wee bit squeezed for money back in those days, that I would have remained a bystander, forever looking longingly at the lucky souls who actually own motorcycles.


I retired from the Air Force Reserve last year, after putting in about 28 years of combined active and reserve duty. It wasn't always fun, but I don't regret one moment of it.

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I had my introduction to motorcycling in 1966 at

Dover Air Force Base. My buddy had a Honda 90, and I had a beat up car with 100,000 miles on it, and we shared. Before I even got the hang of the 90, he got a BSA 441, and I still have scars on my ankle from trying to start it.


In 1969, I got sent to Vietnam, but spent a few days a month at Clark Field in the Phillipines. I bought a new Honda CL350, kept it there, and rode all over Luzon on paved and dirt roads until I was told that Communist guerrillas were shooting GIs who wandered into the jungle. After that, I stayed on paved roads. My first fall took place there, when I hit a sandy patch on pavement in Angeles City and went down. I got up and found that I had put a distinct impression of a quarter on my Zippo lighter. Oh yeah, my hip hurt like hell, too.


In 1970 I brought the 350 home, but soon moved up to a CB750, which my wife and I rode from NY to LA and back in 1972. She is still riding with me, but now on the RT. I keep a CL350 and a CB750 with the modern bikes (and some others not so modern), just to remind me how far we have come.


As an aside, my mother didn't take to my bringing the bike back from overseas. She did not even know I rode, and she still doesn't approve. She was willing to overlook it because she was so glad I was back in one piece.

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I always wanted a cruiser but I never liked the image nor style of the Harleyesque bikes. I'd seen pictures of the "new" BMW cruiser and decided that one day I'd have one. I know a lot of BMW riders don't like the styling of the R1200C because it's such a great departure form the BMW norm but I liked it a lot.


Shortly after discovering the R1200C I was forward deployed on a nuclear fast attack submarine to the middle east. While underway, I came across a motorcycle magazine that had one of the rip-outs featuring a BMW cruiser. I took that rip-out, laminated it and carried it around in my pocket for well over half of the deployment.


Upon returning to home port, a buddy of mine met me on the pier and I coerced him to join me for dinner. On the way, we stopped at a dealership and on the floor was exactly what I wanted...a brand new black R1200C. Sure I wanted it but I certlainly wasn't going to make a deal that evening. (I wanted some DECENT food after 6 months of navy grub!) The salesman wrote down the last few digits of the VIN on a card as well as the price they were willing to offer and low and behold...the last 4 digits of the VIN was one of my Naval Enlisted Classification codes or NEC's.


I returned just a few weeks later to collect the new addition to my life. This was my first REAL motorcycle. The only other motorized two-wheeler I'd had before was a Honda scooter.


To this day I still have my R1200C and the laminated rip-out I carried half-way around the world and back.


I don't know if that's the kind of story that you were looking for but that's my story.

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I didn't serve but was the proverbial army brat... my dad had a Trophy 250 and got me hooked at an early age riding on posts from Alabama to New Mexico. He served in Korea and Nam and left me with unlimited pride at being the son of a veteran. while I have doubts about the politicians, the men who do the dirty work deserve the best from the rest. Instead of 'happy' Memorial Day, accept my heartfelt thanks to all who serve (or served) our country!

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I was stationed in Misawa Japan from 82-85. I had a Kaw 750 back then which was far larger than what the locals were riding. Misawa is at the northern tip of the island with long coastal and mountain roads. Most of the weekends were spent in the saddle sightseeing. Had many adventures and met alot of people in the process. You should see my photo albums, its top rate.

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