Written by Spc. Shawn Denham
PAO, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division
Clarksville, TN – Motorcycles are a common recreational mode of transportation for Soldiers and civilians alike. Bikers have many reasons for why they ride; from enjoying the freedoms the bike can provide to the mechanics behind it, bikes are represented throughout the area.
Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), ride motorcycles for a reason closer to their heart.
The Soldiers of Strike Force gathered in support of the ‘Ride for the Fallen’ motorcycle-training event in Clarksville, TN, August 26th.The ride was dedicated to their Soldiers who died during Operation Enduring Freedom 2010-2011 and the recent death of a fellow Strike Force Soldier in a motorcycle accident. About 40 Soldiers met in the parking lot of The Great Escape Cinema Theater to review motorcycle safety before the ride. From their, the bikers lined up, rolled out together and traveled along Highway 41-A toward Nashville; forming a line of Soldiers honoring their fallen friends.
“It is very important for us as a unit to remember those who are no longer with us,” said 1st Sgt. George Fitzke, first sergeant of Strike Force’s Company of C and who was deployed to the Zharay district in Kandahar and a riding instructor at the event. “Today we ride in remembrance of the sacrifice many Soldiers made during our last deployment.”
Before the ride, bikers would go through a checklist and inspect their vehicle, maintain proper motorist insurance and state registration for their vehicles. The battalion focused heavily on proper procedures and safety.
“Safety is a big concern out here, especially on bikes,” said Fitzke. “There are only two wheels on a bike so if something goes wrong with one wheel that means trouble for the biker.”
Soldiers and instructors examined their motorcycles to ensure each component and detail was in good working order. Then they lined up to test their maneuverability, braking and basic handling skills.
Throughout the training, Soldiers visited with each other. Though the focus of the event was to educate Soldiers, it also presented them an opportunity to socialize with other personnel from different shops and offices in Strike Force.
“This helps build camaraderie,” said 1st Sgt. William Wilson, 1st Sgt. of Co. A, a native of Bloomington, IN. and a riding instructor at the event. “The training also helps Soldiers learn to be aware of their surroundings at all times.”
This instruction is good for bikers because it focused towards hands-on training and real road experience, said Pfc. Cord Robedeau, a mortarman with Headquarters and Headquaters Company, native of Prescott, AZ, and trainee at the event.
“This is a good hands-on course for [motorcyclists] to learn from,” said Robedeau. “We’re all getting good instruction on bike safety and handling. It should be an easy ride so we should all do fine out there today.”
Strike Force Soldiers turned a practical training event into a memorable ride to honor the fallen Soldiers of their battalion and their brigade carrying on the Strike tradition of never forgetting the Soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice and gave for their country.