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Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Army’

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-12-24-21-pmLong form content in a short form world is a novelty these days and I plan to keep this post brief.

I’m thinking about all the Veterans (and their families) today who have sacrificed so much for so many.

I’m eternally thankful.

A very big thank you to all those who have served and continue to serve.

#VeteransDay

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FL-TesttrackI’m talking about Florida and the Big Cypress Swamp.

To be more specific the address is: Harley-Davidson, 5301 34th Ave. S.E., Naples, FL., a 531-acre private test track north of Interstate 75/Alligator Alley.  The facility has a 2.1-mile straight away and a 1.1-mile ride-and-handling loop.

FL-Track-HeloPrior to 2002, the test track was owned and used by Ford Motor Company.  In October 2009, Harley-Davidson announced plans to consolidate its test operations in Florida and Talladega, AL. sites to the Arizona Proving Grounds in Yucca, AZ.  There were approximately 8 employees and as many contract employees at the Florida facility at the time.

Earlier this month, the automaker Chrysler Group LLC announced they purchased the property for $7 million with plans to use the more than six miles of tracks to test a wide range of pre-production vehicles.

FL-Track-BldsHarley-Davidson Motor Co., agreed to lease back a portion of the track to test motorcycles and other specialty vehicles along with 10,200 square feet within two buildings on the property. That lease will last through at least June 30, 2019.

Construction of the track and its associated buildings began in 1985 and ended in 1992.  In 1998 the test track was the subject of a lot of scrutiny when nearby property owners and environmentalist became concerned about expansion that would harm the neighborhood.

Photos courtesy of Google and Collier International.

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At Willamette National Cemetery

I remember watching the Vietnam War as a kid and seeing shooting and blood and bodies—and people were serious.  Very serious!

Then years later on the first night of Desert Storm in 1991, while watching CNN the contrast was stunning.  I remember thinking, are they reporting on a war, or are they trying to sell me on it?  These days the media is problematic as they would rather be first than be right!  Endless commentary without much reporting.  I’ve always thought that people should get information to make themselves smarter, not just to make themselves feel good and reinforce their viewpoints, but I’ve digressed.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day which commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service.  It is set aside so that we might reflect on the honor and sacrifice of those who courageously gave their lives to safeguard us and our way of life. Freedom surrounds each of us everyday—as we openly speak our minds, ride motorcycles freely in any city, where worship is feely exercised and where ballots are freely cast to change who will govern this great county.

It is a great county, and let’s take a few minutes today to remind ourselves of the consequences of war and remember the families of our Fallen.

Photo taken by author at Willamette National Cemetery.

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Jesse Mead, son of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Korey Mead

Few of us can relate and what we don’t realize is that they are right here among us!

I’m talking about families who carry a burden deep inside of lost loved ones and service members who have made a lot of sacrifices while a public is at peace.  Like many of you, I’ve been distracted by the sputtering economy and living life or by the talking heads incessantly doling out two-bit analysis of the political environment.

Is it enough to just say thank you and welcome home to the vets?

You may not know, but Harley-Davidson has been on the front line – right next to the troops – from the factory workers in Milwaukee, who made specialized military bikes, to the soldiers who used them beginning in 1916 throughout WWII.  From 2007-2009 H-D donated more than $1M to the Disabled American Veterans and Mobile Service Office program. Over the years, H-D has supported the Traveling Vietnam Wall, Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally, National Veterans Wheelchair Games and more.

Clearly H-D isn’t the only company supporting troops, and they all deserve a shout-out, but it’s disappointing to see a lack luster appreciation for veteran’s returning home at a national level.  Oh sure, there are local gatherings and the occasional public display of gratitude.  And the media will do the occasional story about the lines of people greeting the troops in some cities which is encouraging.

But, “Portlandia” is luke warm.  It seems we’re too busy writing articles and creating media buzz about the new Oregon Ducks uniform or commenting about the Newberg company, Hydro Graphics, that painted the helmets for the Rose Bowl.  Even as a football fan, there is some absurdity in all these Nike funded uniforms…

Is it me or does anyone else see a disconnect for veterans receiving a national welcome home fitting for the sacrifices they made for this country?

Sunset in Kandahar

According to a CNN/ORC International poll released late last year, most Americans agreed with the decision to end the war in Iraq.  Almost eight in ten said they support removal of combat troops from that country.  However, half the nation believes the Iraq war had a negative effect on life here in the U.S. and seven out of 10 say the money spent on the war is one reason for the economic problems facing the country today.  And although 96% are proud of U.S. troops who served in Iraq, just one in three consider the war a victory and more than half call it a stalemate

The fact is there are an estimated 2.6 million living veterans from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and 23 million total veterans dating back to World War II, according to the GAO.  And the number of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan coming home who may need additional support grows daily.  While we all can express our admiration for veterans, most of us do not fully understand the problems faced by service members or their families when they return.

As a start I propose the creation of a “Welcome Home Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Day.”  A national day of recognition that the people of the U.S. could pay the respect due them.  Until that day comes, I suggest taking time out from our busy lives to give thanks for the sacrifices of those service members who we don’t know.  A small display of kindness and admiration can mean so much to those who expect so little.

I haven’t met my expectations lately in recognizing the sacrifices and wanted to change that today by simply saying… you are appreciated and WELCOME HOME!

Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzwort.  The photo is of Jesse Mead, son of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Korey Mead during the 25th Infantry Division HQ redeployment ceremony at Wheeler Army Airfield in Wahiawa, HI on December 18, 2011.  The 25th ID HQ was the last division HQ under U.S. forces to leave Iraq.  Sunset photo courtesy (U.S. Army, Sgt. Ruth Pagan, 2nd BCT, 4th Inf. Div., PAO)

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Harley-Davidson has always held a certain fascination for the monied elite, from Wall Street bankers to Middle Eastern oil sheiks.  They all ride on the essence of the freedom brand.  Since the motor company jettisoned more employees over the holidays it’s now dabbling in a bit of capital resource-allocation and looking for Hollywood’s crucial role in revitalizing the companies pop culture standing. 

We live in a world of brands.  Think Zoo York t-shirts, or Jukijama sneakers.  It’s a thirst for fame. 

Savvy celebs are trying to fuse entertainment and social networking, closing the gap between performer and fan. Even hip-hop “musician’s” using their often limited musical footprint to expand into merch have far exceeded t-shirts and turned to alcohol concoctions to sell “cool”.  So, can we really blame Harley-Davison for flexing their marketing muscle and trying to close the gap with youth in order to survive?

The key is authenticity. 

Harley-Davidson has to choose associations that are credible and organic if they wish to succeed.  Why?  Because the essence of Harley-Davidson is freedom—outfitting confident individuals to assert their true independence.  All their products under the brand reflect this rock-solid individuality.  It’s like an Armani suit.  Sure, you could say it’s part of your wardrobe, but it’s more than just a business suit.  It’s a state of mind. 

In the latest example of cementing their mainstream outreach Harley-Davidson has joined up with Marvel on the official 2012 The Avengers movie promotion.  You can watch the official Avengers movie trailer (HERE).  Little information is available on exactly what the promotion is, but here is a sign-up page (HERE) to enter information and become one of the first fans to know about the promotion.

If you’re thinking this is déjà vu all over again.  You’re right!  Marvel previously partnered with Harley-Davidson on Captain America: The First Avenger movie.  Captain America rode a Harley-Davidson replica of the “Liberator”, a classic H-D motorcycle that was used by U.S. Service Men and Women during World War II.   For the Captain America promotion, Harley-Davidson launched an interactive site and ran a sweepstakes with a customized H-D motorcycle as one of the prizes. They even made Captain America posters available at dealers, and auctioned off a bike signed by the Hollywood elite in the movie to benefit Disabled American Veterans.

For The Avengers, maybe they’ll be riding a new CVO Road Glide?!  The teaser states “You could be immortalized in Harley-Davidson and Marvel’s, The Avengers history.”  Are we talking about funeral’s and a headstone?!

If so, maybe we need to lean into those $10,000 imported padded shoulders of that Armani suit because just like The Avenger it serves as a defensive role and deflects nearly all ill-infused assaults from all manner of scumbags, hangers on, wannabees and true movie biz powerhouses.

Photos courtesy of Marvel and H-D.

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Not the “Captain” you were thinking.

It’s called product placement and I’ve blogged about it previously HERE and HERE.  It’s all about socializing Harley-Davidson on the big screen.

Sure we know that Harley-Davison has used product placement in the past, but these days it’s up to the Davie Brown Entertainment Team to make sure it’s a core part of a marketing push into film/entertainment.  And as we’re told countless times each night on TV commercials… entertainment can sensationalize the excitement and thrill of riding a motorcycle to the point of moving people to the dealers to check it out, right?

Disregard that only 3% of the U.S. consumers own a motorcycle.  It’s the other 15-20 million individuals in the U.S. being targeted and the hope is to generate a desire to buy one. But, I’ve gotten way ahead of myself…

This bit all started at the outset of WWII, where the U.S. Government gave H-D an assignment.  Design a motorcycle that could withstand desert conditions. You see the Germans were already using a desert-ready BMW motorcycle in the North African campaign and we didn’t really have anything to respond.

Harley-Davidson’s response was the 1942 XA.  It had horizontally-opposed flat twin engine (750), a shaft final drive a hand operated clutch with foot-operated shifter and a “wet-sump” design circulated oil from the pan underneath the engine, protecting the oil from sand.  It also had heavy-cleated tires to provide traction against shifting terrain.  The contract was cancelled early due to war combat moving out of North Africa and only about a thousand XA’s were ever built.

It was also in about the same timeframe, during and around World War II that the Model WLA was produced to U.S. Army specifications.  Called the 45 solo type, due to its 45 cubic inches (740 cc) engine and single-rider design. The same engine, in a slightly lower state of tune, also powered the three-wheeled Servi-Car (the “G” family), leading to the “solo” distinction.  During World War II, Harley-Davidson produced and dispatched approximately 90,000 WLA motorcycles overseas to support the war effort. The motorcycle was affectionately known as the “Liberator” by U.S. Service Men and Women.

Private Robert J. Vance

Quick to recognize a product placement opportunity, H-D (via Davie Brown) worked with Marvel Studios to recreate five replica bikes which is tied in to the July 22nd release of Captain America: The First Avenger.  In addition, Harley Davidson has launched an interactive web site that showcases the hero’s vintage ride and offers fans a chance to win a one-of-a-kind custom motorcycle.  Cool.

Lastly, the northwest has something loosely connected with this movie…Private Robert J. Vance, from Portland, Oregon, had his photo taken while riding a motorcycle as a messenger of the 33rd Armored Regiment of the 3rd Armored Division in the fields of Normandy in late July, 1944 on a H-D WLA.

Photos courtesy of Marvel, H-D WLA Service Manual (large .pdf) and U.S. Army Signal Corps

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The Culbertson Guidon -- Custer's Last Stand

Last Friday marked the 134th anniversary of the battle.

I’m talking about The Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as Custer’s Last Stand.  It claimed, 263 soldiers, including Lt. Col. George A. Custer and attached personnel of the U.S. Army, who died fighting several thousand Lakota, and Cheyenne warriors led by Sitting Bull.  They fought for their land near what’s now Crow Agency, MT when the government tried to drive the Indians off the land after white settlers discovered gold there. The Black Hills in southeastern Montana (present day South Dakota) were declared Indian land in the late 1860s.

A single swallowtail flag – or Guidon – is one of the few artifacts found from the battle.  Guidons served as battlefield beacons marking company positions.  The victorious Indians stripped the corpses of trophies, but missed the bloodstained flag, which was hidden under the body of a soldier.  The Culbertson Guidon as it’s called was recovered by Sergeant Ferdinand Culbertson, a member of a burial party.  It was sold for $54 in 1895 to the Detroit Institute of Arts who has now decided to sell it and use the proceeds to build its collection. The flag has been valued at $2 million to $5 million and will be auctioned sometime in October by Sotheby’s.

If you’re headed to the Sturgis Rally then the battlefield is a must see stop.  It’s at the junction of I-90 and Hwy 212 and today the Little Bighorn National Monument offers up a wide range of activities and interpretive opportunities. I was there about 3 years ago and blogged about HERE.  The Forest Rangers provide talks about the battle and there are a number of related items presented in the Visitor Center.  I remember most an obelisk which commemorates the U.S. Army dead, and marks the spot of the mass grave where all U.S. soldiers were re-buried.

Tribal Sites: Crow TribeArikara TribeSioux TribesCheyenne Tribehttp://www.c-a-tribes.org/

Photo of flag courtesy of Sotheby’s.

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