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Posts Tagged ‘Veterans’

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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Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 11.07.03 AMI never had the opportunity to meet or hang with Adam Sandovalas and Scooter “Trash” Sandoval, his Chihuahua.  He’s traveling around the U.S to every Harley-Davidson dealership raising money and awareness for the children of fallen soldiers. Basically it’s a ride, stop, meet and greet, throttle up to the next dealer and repeat.  You can follow along on his web site at Scootin’ America.

Similar to the USPS slogan, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will keep Adam and Scooter from the swift completion of his task.

I remember seeing a Facebook post back in June of Adam and Scooter stopping at PDX Speed Shop and recall thinking it would have been cool to shake his hand and listen to a couple of his stories on this cross country adventure.  I admired the fact that here is a person willing to put his personal life on hold and do what he believes in to get the job done.

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 11.14.26 AMMany of us have thought about doing something similar or noteworthy on our motorcycle.  I’ve heard and been part of the discussions in my own riding circles.  Take a couple months to do this or a bucket list dream ride of doing that, but more often than not we stop – just short of pulling the bike out of the garage.

Adam has dedicated a couple of years time to ride thousands of miles on his 1996 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide and spread the word benefitting those who need a hand.  I could drone on about Adam and his accomplishments, but this has already been done. I could write about his dedication to see this project through to the end and his drive to make a difference, but there are plenty of photos of the endless handshakes and well-wisher’s.

What I really wanted to bring attention to is that on July 2nd, on the way to one of the first Harley-Dealer stops of the day, a lady driving in oncoming traffic came across the center line and hit Adam. Scooter was okay, but they Life-Flight Adam to the UPMC Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh where he was admitted. He was stable and underwent surgery on July 3rd. He is progressing well given the situation and started the first day of physical therapy on July 5th.  If interested you can follow his updates on his Facebook page HERE or on his Twitter page HERE.

His stated goal is to fix himself up along with the Harley and complete his mission for our soldiers.  If you want to know how-to-help please visit HERE.

To read that Adam wants to get back out there and finish the task got me to thinking that innovative marketing is the underbelly of Harley-Davidson success and wouldn’t it be cool if they provided a bit of positive outreach and started a fund to loan or buy him a new bike!  This is something that would clearly serve all and is a win-win-win.

Harley-Davidson’s U.S. Media Relations Manager is Jen Hoyer.  If you have some passion about this her contact info is HERE.

Photos are courtesy of Scootn’ America.

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Bridge of the Gods

Bridge of the Gods

On a cool summer morning it all started on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway with the wind at our backs looking east.

I’m talking about Interstate 84 and the 378 miles which stretches from Portland, Oregon to the Idaho border.  Senate Bill 461 took effect in January 2014 which required the use of private funds to be used in the purchase, installation and maintenance of the large brown signs which designates the route to honor all veterans who served and those who became casualties** during the Vietnam war.

There are approximately 20 signs installed to-date and our riding group passed a couple as we headed toward the base of the Blue Mountains to the Wild West city of Pendleton for the Pendleton Bike Week (PBW).  We took the Cascade Locks exit and rode across the cantilever bridge that spans the Columbia River called the “Bridge of The Gods.”

Maryville Winery

Maryville Winery

There we picked up another rider in our group and headed east on highway 14.  We stopped in Stevenson, WA at the Venus Café for a bit of breakfast then made our way winding along through the Columbia Gorge through the forest and up steep bluffs.  We did a quick stop at the Maryhill winery, traveled past the largely dismantled aluminum smelter plant and then after a short stop in Umatilla we arrived in Pendleton.

This was the inaugural year of the PBW and based on my observations it looks to have sowed the seeds for the start of a recurring big event.  Bikers flooded the convention center, took in vendor booths, relaxed with musical entertainment, cruised around town and spent money which was an economic boost for the city!

Helmley's

Hamley’s “Old West” Saloon

Some key highlights were:

  • There is power in the wheat field and power in the rain because the Rogue Brewery Ale House officially launched the Pendleton Pilsner.  They grow their own hops, malting barley, rye, pumpkins, honey and other ingredients for refreshments.  The new Pendleton Pilsner is brewed at the Rogues HQ in Newport, Oregon and I’m reminded of that movie… where Frank the Tank states: “Once it hits your lips, it’s so good!
  • Pendleton’s legendary hospitality continues in fine style.  The local food was 1st class, the staff at restaurants were most personable and everywhere folks seemed genuinely friendly and appreciative of the motorcycle enthusiasts being in town.
  • PMR Registration

    PMR Registration

    The 100-year old mahogany bar at Hamley’s.  We spent a fair amount of time enjoying Pendleton’s iconic “old-west” saloon and taking in the towns ambiance.

  • Wildhorse Resort & Casino was most entertaining.  Operated by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the 10-story hotel and resort pulls in the people and the gaming revenue seemed brisk during my short time there. Yes, I contributed to their next expansion project!
  • Attendance of Rattlesnake Mountain H-D from Kennewick, WA at the rally celebration added icing to the cake.  The dealer brought over a bunch of motorcycles and there was a rather large assortment of accessories, parts and t-shirts for attendees to load up on.
Rally Crowds

Rally Crowds

Eric Folkestad, event partners and business leaders are likely making plans for 2016.   I chatted briefly with Eric and he deserves a big shout out from the riding community in taking on the risk and pulling together this quality event.  Motorcycle rallies are a huge gamble and you have to bring your “big girl panties” to the party because it’s not easy.  Note: That is a biker saying and apologies if I offended anyone wearing panties!  Granted he’s had practice being the co-owner of the Hells Canyon Rally and then selling his stake to his brother, but for any motorcycle event to be successful you need to bring large groups of riders together, offer up great entertainment, get biker vendors to support the event, cover the civic (OSP, police, 1st responders etc.) duties and hope that you don’t suffer financial ruin in the end.

Motorcycle Show Trophy's

Motorcycle Show Trophy’s

I’m happy to have participated in the “First PBW!”  Congrats on a most successful rally Eric!

Lastly, I wish I could report that there were no accidents, but Mr. Jason Anteau, 43-years-old, sadly died Friday night in a motorcycle accident at the west end of Pendleton.  Mr. Anteau worked for the Oregon Department of Transportation, was a Hermiston volunteer firefighter and was attending the rally.

Motorcycle Show

Motorcycle Show Entry

The preliminary investigation revealed speed and distraction were not factors, nor were any of the drivers impaired.  More information reported HERE.   Obituary HERE.  Rally’s can be a recipe for danger, but PBW is very small compared to other high profile events (i.e. Sturgis, Laughlin River Run etc.) where thousands of riders are packed into a congested area.  It’s an unfortunate blemish this occurred during the rally and we’re reminded once again how important safety awareness is to the motorcycle community, and how precious life really is.  My thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Anteau’s family and friends!

UPDATED: July 29, 2015 – added link to Mr. Anteau obituary.  Also adding that Mr. Anteau was on the Oregon State HazMat Team and was the vice president of the East Desert Diamondbacks chapter of the Iron Order motorcycle club.

UPDATED: July 29, 2015 – The 2016 Pendleton Bike Week will take place from July 22 to July 26th. According to this report co-founder Eric Folkestad said the event met attendance and revenue goals and was able to break even. PBW brought in a total of 5,740 people over the five day event. The event peaked on Saturday, when 2,150 motorcycle enthusiasts arrived at the Pendleton Convention Center.

Photos taken by author.

**Approximately 57,000 Oregonians served “in country” during the Vietnam War with 719 killed in action.  Another 5,000 were wounded in action.  39 remain missing in action after 40 years.  Of the 333,000 veterans living in Oregon, approximately a third served during the Vietnam conflict. Interstate 205 (I-205) is also known as the War Veterans Memorial Highway and Highway 97 is known as the WWII Veterans Memorial Highway.  Thirty-three other states have officially designated highways in honor of Vietnam vets.

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Flag-SpokaneWhen Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner” almost 200 years ago, he called America “the land of the free and home of the brave.”

Those words are as true today as they were back then.  Throughout our Nation’s history, American soldiers (Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coastguard) have bravely answered the call to defend our freedom.

Join me today, Veterans Day,  to honor all the men and women who have served our country and preserved our many freedoms.

Photo taken by author. 

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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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“Redux” is often used in literature and film with the meaning of “brought back or restored.”

This time it applies to a motorcycle ride which took place back in 2008 under some clouds of controversy.  I won’t bore you with details of the past because it’s been 3+ years since that ride which had record attendance on a bright sunny fall day in the northwest.

Just mark your calendar as the Free The Colors ride is being resurrected from the ride “tool box” and planned for April 15th.

The ride is not about rules of engagement.  Rather it’s about a journey and it seems to me that the best trips in life invariably involve some detours and improvisation to smooth out the bumps in the road.  Sometimes when we’re lucky, they also involve motorcycles and meeting new friends.

And speaking of friends, the Oregon Veterans Motorcycle Association (OVMA) will be celebrating 22 years of service to Veterans, their families and the Community on Saturday, April 14th. The current State President, Stefan Dudley ‘Taz’ (HDE, Bend area), asked that the West Valley Chapter plan and run the Free The Colors ride on Sunday April 15, which will result in a full weekend for OVMA.

The ride route (see map) will start out at 12 noon (sharp) from the VFW Post #584 on 1469 Timber St, SE, Albany.  From there they will be going to Lebanon, visiting the site where a new Veterans Home will be built. Then on to Scio, visiting a Veterans Memorial, then to Jefferson, from there to I-5 N, they will be stopping at Rest Lawn Cemetery in W. Salem, (OVMA has a Memorial there), and from there to the Independence Veterans Memorial.  They plan to fit in a lunch and/or rest stop somewhere on the ride, and from there back to 99W down to Albany, and to the Legion.

There will also be a breakfast at the VFW from 9-11:45am

Hear that sound?  It’s time to ride and let the sun shine in on April 15th!

Poster photo and map courtesy of OVMA

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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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