Fallen Heroes Tribute Bike
By Greg Williams • photos by Don Kates/Shooters Images
While this tribute bike, dubbed Fallen Heroes, looks finished, owner Josh Davis of Rochester, Minnesota, is always refining his 2009 Harley-Davidson Street Glide.
Built to pay his respects to the Marines, in which he served during the early 2000s, Josh continues to make changes. But just getting Fallen Heroes to this stage has been quite the process. “I’ve always been into stuff with motors,” Josh explains. “Whether it’s snowmobiles or motorcycles, I’ve always enjoyed them.”
Josh joined the Marine Corps in 2001 and was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2004. He left the Marines in 2005.
“I bought this ’09 Street Glide in 2013,” Josh says. “I wanted to build a custom bagger and knew a lot of the work was going to be air-brushed graphics, so I began searching for a painter who could pull off portrait work.”
Josh couldn’t find a good fit while searching online; he didn’t feel confident that any of them could accurately do the portraits. Then, while scanning Facebook, he came across a post featuring Curry’s Inc. This family-operated business located in Nixa, Missouri, is owned and operated by Tony and Cindy Curry and their son Nathan. Although building and painting street rods in the 1980s and ’90s, Curry’s Inc. is now best known for its bagger builds and a line of components that modify Harley-Davidsons.
Positive that he’d now found the team to bring his ideas to life, Josh met with Tony and Nathan to discuss the build. Tony would handle most of the hands-on construction, while Nathan, with his deft touch with the airbrush, would capture the likenesses of Josh’s fallen Marine Corps friends and add other graphics.
In 2014, Josh delivered his Street Glide to Curry’s Inc., and Tony got to work by stripping down the Harley-Davidson and removing the stock fender and bags to replace them with a set from Curry’s Slant Back series.
Tony also worked over the front end, adding an HHI 26″ neck kit and HHI 16-gauge wraparound steel fender to cover the 26″ Renegade rim and Avon tire. A Curry’s nitro outer fairing was installed, complete with a solid windshield.
That done, Tony painted the bike white with Gold Pearl. Josh came to pick it up—without the air-brushed graphics—so he could ride it during Sturgis’ 75th anniversary rally in 2015. “That fall, I was riding the bike and got rear-ended,” Josh recalls. “That wrecked all of the work on the back of the bike that we’d just done, so it was returned to Curry’s for repair and more paint.”
At that time, Tony had just developed the Reaper Series bags and fender. While the Slant Back bags are 5″ down and 6″ back, the Reaper Series is much more aggressively stretched, measuring 7″ down and 16″ back. As Tony says, the design gives a motor-cycle equipped with the Reaper kit much more motion, and that’s the system Josh wanted installed on the rebuilt Street Glide.
With the back end straightened out and the Reaper Series bags and fender mocked up and modified with a backup camera above the licence plate, Tony painted the repaired areas white to match the rest of the bike. Nathan then consulted Josh again about the art.
“When I first talked to Josh he wanted all the graphics to be done black and white,” Nathan says. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I try to do stuff outside the box and thought I could do the Fallen Heroes theme a bit differently.”
Most importantly for Josh were the portraits of the men who served alongside him, including Gunnery Sgt. Elia Fontechio and Cpl. Jason Dunham. Josh says in August 2004, Fontechio, while on a routine patrol in Al-Anbar province, Iraq, died from injuries sustained during an insurgent attack.
And in April 2004, Dunham and his unit, while investigating an attack on the battalion commander’s convoy near Husaybah, Iraq, became engaged in a skirmish when searching insurgent vehicles for weapons.
When one driver attempted to flee, Dunham resorted to hand-to-hand combat, but the insurgent dropped a live grenade during the scuffle. Dunham then removed his helmet, placed it over the live grenade, and laid on its top to shield others from the blast.
“He saved many lives, but lost his own,” Josh says of the sacrifice, for which Dunham was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Josh adds, “He was the first Marine since Vietnam to get the Medal of Honor.” So, Nathan started on Fontechio’s and Dunham’s portraits. “I did the black and white portraits with the scrolls and other artwork,” Nathan tells me. “But I wanted to make the art pop, so while I left the portraits black and white I added color only to the flags, and on Jason’s side, the gold in the Medal of Honor.” On the back of the bags and fender, Josh gave Nathan the opportunity to paint them as he saw fit.
“I came up with the image of the soldier on one knee, beside another soldier’s boots, gun, helmet and dog tags,” Nathan says. “And then I added the eagle’s wings with feathers painted red and white, almost hugging him, while there’s a blue glow around the soldier.” Not all of Nathan’s airbrush work was done at the same time – it snowballed from that start, and, in stages, art has been added to the Tour Pak lid, the gas tank, and the side covers. Next, Nathan will paint the fairing.
In search of more power and performance, Josh made serious mechanical changes just last winter when the engine was worked on by S&W Motorcycles in Rochester. The cases were split and the motor completely rebuilt with S&S cylinders, pistons, connecting rods and Revolution Performance Stage III cylinder heads. All of this was done to support running a CMP Motorcycles turbo kit that includes an exhaust, blow off valve and wastegate, Accufab Racing clamps, billet cam cover, oil feed, and drain lines, preprogramed ThunderMax tuner, and high-flow injectors.
Of the yet-to-be-finished Fallen Heroes tribute machine, Josh says, “I ride the bike every opportunity I get, but with family and work, that’s mostly on weekends.” AI Salute