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 Thursday, December 7, 2006

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jdeereanton
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jdeereanton

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PostSubject: Thursday, December 7, 2006   Thursday, December 7, 2006 I_icon_minitimeThu Jan 01, 2009 8:58 am

This is a personal narrative that I just felt like sharing.

Earlier this week we learned about a PGR mission to escort the body of CPL Jon-Erik Loney from the Huntsville, AL airport to Peck Funeral Home in Hartselle, AL. This would mean we would ride about 10 miles to the airport and then another 35 miles to Hartselle and a return trip, pretty much all interstate travel. No matter how cold, that should be tolerable.

On Wednesday I found out that the escort mission was on Thursday which was a conflict with a meeting I was scheduled to attend at church. Made contact with Marco, the ride captain for this mission, to let him know we would not be able to do the escort due to the conflict. At that time he let me know the arrival airport had been shifted to Birmingham and he figured that we probably would not want to participate due to the distance. At the time I agreed with him. On Thursday things collapsed on the church meeting and I had to reschedule it for Monday which meant that we could participate in the escort. But, Birmingham is a much longer trip and in extremely cold weather.

Anyway – we took off about 4:30 for Hartselle and the temp was hovering around 34 degrees. This was the warmest temp we’d experience on this ride, and the sun was out – it felt balmy. The wind was straight out of the north at 20 mph and of course we were riding at freeway speeds so really were getting blasted at about 70 mph. Not too bad as we traveled south, but get cross-wise or around a truck, and the wind was really tossing us around.

We made it to Hartselle by about 5:15 and filled the tanks on the bikes. The weird thing about the cold is it really negatively affects the fuel consumption. We are now starting with full tanks and have about a 130 mile round trip to Birmingham and back to Hartselle – should be no problem in normal conditions. We met the other three PGR riders and the JROTC members from Brewer High School who were going to provide an honor guard. These young men and women are great young people who are truly the promise of our future. I was impressed with the sacrifice they made simply to honor a young man who had been a student and JROTC member at Brewer.

Not certain the time we rolled out of Hartselle, AL, but it was probably close to 6:40 or so and this was going to be a high speed run of about 1 hour and 20 minutes with police escort to the Birmingham airport. The air temp is now about 27 degrees and the wind is out of the north at 17 mph with gusts up to 25 mph. This is really something to contend with when riding at speeds up to 90 MPH! There is no way to really stay warm with stock grips and stock windscreens on our SilverWings. The gloves we had were not up to the task.

The SilverWing fairing is effective at keeping most of the wind off of the body, but trust me we were pretty cold (cold is such a very inadequate word) by the time we got to Birmingham. The workers at the postal facility took pity on us and let us warm up in their break room.

We now had an opportunity to meet the family of Cpl Jon-Erik Loney. His folks are salt-of-the-earth people and my heart goes out to them. They have suffered a terrible loss and it was an honor to provide a small bit of respect for this fallen soldier.

The wait for the transfer of CPL Loney’s body from the aircraft to the hearse was long and we should have taken the time to fill our fuel tanks because we were at the 1/4 mark on our gauge. I did talk to Marco to let him know we would probably have to pull out of line somewhere on the way back to fill up, but we’d ride as far as we could. I think the transfer was completed sometime about 9:20 and we were back on the freeway heading to Hartselle. We had taken the time to put our rain suits on to help deal with the wind. The gloves did not magically become more capable of dealing with the ‘cool breeze’ rushing over our hands hanging out there in the wide open space. The air temp is down to 23 degrees and the wind is still out of the north at 17 to 21 mph. It is brisk, nippy, what else can be euphemistically applied here? On the up side the bugs are pretty light and not causing much of a problem.

We did have to pull out of the escort at Hanceville, AL to get fuel and warm-up with a cup of that infamous hot McDonalds coffee. I’d have sued them if it wasn’t scalding hot! The gal at the gas stationed had just one question for us, “How many layers did we have on?” Good question; Top – 6 layers, not too bad. Bottom only 3 layers so we added the rain pants to make it an even number. It is now about 10:40 or so and we have about 60 miles to go to Huntsville.

This last stretch is notable for two things, regret for pulling out of the escort although it was necessary and unavoidable under the circumstances. And, never having to use the brakes to slow down from the constant 60 – 70 mph we’re traveling until about 3 miles from home. My hands were so cold by the time the need to brake arrives that it is a little bit of a struggle to make it happen. No amount of flexing the fingers can keep them really un-rigid in the air temp they are exposed to. Feel kind of like I’m just hanging on. We get home about 11:45 and it is hard to work the garage door opener. Put the bikes in the garage and peel off the clothes. Kim takes a hot bath to take the chill off – it doesn’t really completely do the job, but she’s a little bit warmer.

So why would we do this? The real question you should ask is why or rather how could we not do this? These young men and women who are serving our nation are some of the best citizens this nation has produced. Is there really any way we can sit idly by and not pay an honor to them at their moment of greatest sacrifice? Their families need to know that the sticker on the back of our cars (& bikes) that says ‘Support Our Troops” is real.

“Just once, in the history of this country, I’d like to see the American soldier be given a fair break in the terrible business of making war.” General of the Army George Catlett Marshall
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JeffR
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PostSubject: Re: Thursday, December 7, 2006   Thursday, December 7, 2006 I_icon_minitimeThu Jan 01, 2009 11:41 am

Dale,

That is a great story. I signed up for the PGR but so far all the rides have been either when I work or a very last minute thing. I was in the Marines myself so when I just found out about this I signed up. Hopefully I will be able to join in soon. I bet it was cold at those temps and speeds too. Have you done anything different to help ride in those cold temps? Maybe heated clothes or such and I never thought it gets so cold in Alabama.

But it is great you do this since it is important and I can't wait until I am able to join in one too. I have heard they are all Harley riders out here so it will be interesting. But I used to ride a Harley too back in Illinois so I'm sure I can handle it. It was a great story and nice that we have people like you to help the family's of our service men and women.
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honda_silver
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PostSubject: Re: Thursday, December 7, 2006   Thursday, December 7, 2006 I_icon_minitimeThu Jan 01, 2009 12:10 pm

jdeereanton wrote:

Earlier this week we learned about a PGR mission to escort the body of CPL Jon-Erik Loney from the Huntsville, AL airport to Peck Funeral Home in Hartselle, AL.

I joined the PGR about 3-4 months ago have been on a few missions.

I did get to ride on a PGR mission with 15,000 army soldiers during a required safety ride. It was an honor to ride and thank them.


Last edited by honda_silver on Thu Jan 01, 2009 4:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
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jdeereanton
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jdeereanton

Number of posts : 1997
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Location : Huntsville, AL
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PostSubject: Re: Thursday, December 7, 2006   Thursday, December 7, 2006 I_icon_minitimeThu Jan 01, 2009 2:07 pm

Jeff & Bill,

Thanks for your comments. I had written that narrative a few days after the ride in 2006. Turned out that was the coldest day of 2006.

The missions here are also generally during the day while I'm at work as well, but I sometimes come in to work early and stay late so I can make up the time I take during the day to attend a mission.

That night mission definitely earned us our stripes. None of the cruisers give us any grief when we show up for a mission. The Ride Captain, Marco, still tells people about the crazy people on the scooters. It was our first mission and I still get choked up thinking about the family. I've encountered the mom at a few memorial events and I can tell you the grief is deep.

Bill, that must have been a ride at Fort Hood. Lots of stop and go, but so cool to be in that kind of a big ride. I retired from the Army as a Sergeant First Class - I really love soldiers. Both of our boys are soldiers. I really love soldiers, marines, sailors, & airmen - tough job for little reward.

Jeff - We rarely get that kind of cold so we aren't going to get any special clothing - have purchased some silk long johns and a good balaclava. We are in the very north part of AL about 360 miles from the gulf. Get snow every now and then and occasionally it gets cold enough to put a thin layer of ice on the lakes. Nothing like my childhood in MN though.
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honda_silver
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PostSubject: Re: Thursday, December 7, 2006   Thursday, December 7, 2006 I_icon_minitimeThu Jan 01, 2009 4:16 pm

jdeereanton wrote:

Bill, that must have been a ride at Fort Hood. Lots of stop and go, but so cool to be in that kind of a big ride.

Yes it was the Fort Hood ride.

It was tough riding with my eyes misting up a bunch of times ...
it must have been the weather Wink

I was amazed how many people outside Fort Hood would pull over and waited by the side of the road ... some got out of their cars and stood while miles of soldier and PGR motorcycles passed by. There goes that weather again Embarassed.


jdeereanton wrote:
Jeff - We rarely get that kind of cold so we aren't going to get any special clothing - have purchased some silk long johns and a good balaclava.


For Christmas I was given by my wife and children a Powerlet heated liner ... for the cold days in Texas Shocked ... and if not then my passenger can wear for their comfort.
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