Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Salutes Freedom Fighter

FREEDOM-FIGHTER

In keeping with the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum’s mission to Honor the Ride, a special “Freedom Fighter” award recognizing an individual who has fought to protect the rights of motorcyclists was instituted. For 2016, the Freedom Fighter is Gary Wetzel, a Vietnam Veteran and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient who has been active for decades in raising awareness of not only Veteran’s issues, but also protecting riders’ rights.

“There truly is no one more deserving of the 2016 Freedom Fighter award than Gary Wetzel,” says Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall Of Fame Executive Director Myrick Robbins. “It is an honor and a privilege to salute Gary’s achievements during the induction of the Class of 2016.” Initiated in 2001, The Freedom Fighter award honors someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty for motorcyclists and expended efforts in the political arena.

“That criteria is epitomized by Gary,” adds Robbins. “A longtime rider, he has ridden with Rolling Thunder since 1989 and has stepped up countless times as an advocate for the disabled. In fact, one of the first formal events of Harley-Davidson’s 110th Anniversary Celebration was “Military Day” and there was a motorcycle ride to the VA hospital to raise money. Leading the way that day was Gary Wetzel, and he continues to be a leader every day.”

Wetzel received the Medal of Honor from President Lyndon Johnson for his service in Vietnam. “Every time I wear that blue ribbon, I wear it for everybody,” he insists. “I’m just a caretaker… just a soldier doing a job.” When Wetzel’s helicopter was shot down, the survivors came under heavy enemy fire. “I was trying to save my buddy and my pilot when a grenade went off about four feet behind me and caught me pretty good,” he says. Wetzel lost his arm and suffered multiple life-threatening wounds to his chest, right arm, and left leg, but continued to man his machine gun to aid his crew chief who was attempting to drag a wounded aircraft commander to safety.

But that’s all in the past. What he does now is to serve as an advocate for his fellow veterans, usually from the saddle of his Harley, “Ruby” – a 1993 Electra Glide Classic with more than 140,000 miles on the odometer. By the way, Ruby hasn’t been modified to accommodate his prosthetic left arm. “I more or less designed my arm so I can pull my clutch in and out, and take off,” he explains.

Starting with the second ride in 1989, Wetzel has been involved with Rolling Thunder, the big annual veterans ride to Washington, D.C. In fact, he has had the honor of riding the lead bike almost every single year. Since the ride’s inception, Wetzel says, the remains of more than 1,500 soldiers have been brought home to the U.S. to be buried.

“Join us in honoring Gary Wetzel and the 2016 Hall of Fame inductees,” says Robbins. The 2016 Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame 2016 Induction Breakfast will be August 10, 2016 at the Lodge at Deadwood in Deadwood, South Dakota. Breakfast tickets are available for a $35 donation, tables of eight for $300. Tickets are available by calling the Museum at 605.347.2001 or they can be purchased online at http://www.sturgismuseum.com/shop/hall-fame-breakfast.

Victory Launches “The Road Home Challenge” for Veterans

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Victory Motorcycles invites everyone to take “The Road Home Challenge” and make a contribution to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), an organization committed to providing support and resources to the newest generation of U.S. military veterans. The goal of The Road Home Challenge is to raise $100,000 for IAVA by the end of May, and the first 500 donors will receive exclusive merchandise co-branded with the logos of Victory Motorcycles and IAVA. Individuals who want to contribute to IAVA during The Road Home Challenge can do so at www.classy.org/VictoryIAVA2016RoadHomeChallenge.

This fundraising effort is one of the ways Victory Motorcycles and Victory riders and dealers are saluting military veterans and those currently serving. Participating Victory Motorcycles dealerships across the country will salute veterans with military appreciation events on Armed Forces Day, May 21. Visit the Events page on the Victory website for the list of participating dealers. Victory riders and dealers are also taking part in the Rolling Thunder ride in Washington, D.C., on May 29, the day before Memorial Day.

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Special Memorial Day Weekend Events

Victory Motorcycles invites riders to gather on Memorial Day weekend for special activities in the Washington, D.C. area, including:

On Saturday, May 28, riders can join Victory and IAVA on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to meet Victory rider, film star, and retired U.S. Marine R. Lee Ermey – “The Gunny” – for a meet and greet at the IAVA display. The Gunny will sign autographs and pose for photos. (Appearance time to be determined.)

Also on May 28, four D.C.-area and one Pennsylvania Victory dealers will host Victory-IAVA Pit Stops for local riders and those arriving for the next day’s Rolling Thunder ride. (Dealers are listed below.)

On Sunday, May 29, riders are invited to meet at the Silver Diner in Waldorf, Maryland, for “Breakfast With The Gunny.” Riders can grab breakfast on their own from 6:30-8 a.m., and at 8:15 a.m., it’s kickstands up for the group ride to the Pentagon for Rolling Thunder, with The Gunny out in front.

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Victory-IAVA Pit Stops will be held Saturday, May 28, at:

Chesapeake Cycles (104 Defense Hwy., Annapolis, MD; www.chesapeakecycles.com)

Coleman Powersports in Falls Church, Virginia (435 S. Washington St., www.wherethepoweris.com)

Coleman Powersports in Woodbridge, Virginia (14105 Telegraph Road, www.wherethepoweris.com)

Victory of Southern Maryland (4630 Crain Hwy., White Plains, MD, www.thekustomshoppe.com)

Freedom Powersports (10091 Lincoln Highway, Everett, PA 15537, http://ridefps.com)

 

Salute to American Veterans Rally 8-20 to 8-22

After returning from the European Theater after World War II, many American veterans chose to continue riding the motorcycle they had come to love and trust during war. From this, the biker culture we now know sprung. It is only fitting that a motorcycle rally is used to honor our veterans, given this beginning. But you do not have to be a biker to attend the Salute to American Veterans Motorcycle Rally, nor do you have to be an American veteran.

So make your plans to attend the Salute to American Veterans Motorcycle Rally. It should be an experience you will remember and treasure. Hope to see you there soon! (From MC RALLY FINDER )

Motels and Camping Near Salute to American Veterans Motorcycle Rally

Typical Events at the Salute to American Veterans Motorcycle Rally

A partial list of events is provided here, but I highly recommend going to the official website, listed below, to get a detailed listing as well as a schedule, when available.

  • Ride-in Bike Show
  • Motorcycle Parade in honor of the American Vet
  • Tattoo contest
  • POW/MIA recognition ride
  • Veterans BBQ
  • Live music
  • Vendors – for about anything a biker would want

Official Website (for further information)