This was the second IronButt ride held by the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (CVMA) North Carolina Chapter 15-1. Why is it called Charlie Mike? Charlie Mike is phonetic for the letters C and M. In military terms, it means “continue the mission.”
|Brian Volk registering -- He is a veteran of the first Charlie Mike|
|Fuz and Gail Melton rode from Martinsville, VA for this Charlie Mike event|
The mission (purpose) of this ride was to honor our Fallen Heroes and veterans of the Korean War, sometimes referred to as “The Forgotten War.” The Korean War started June 25, 1950 and an armistice (cease fire) went into effect on July 27, 1953. Technically, South Korea and north Korea (nK) are still at war because no peace treaty was signed. Most of the bikers rode for the mission and viewed the IronButt recognition as an added bonus rather than their purpose. Fuz and Gail Melton rode from Martinsville, VA to be part of this mission, and I think we rode in a pawgantic, 1,000-mile circle around their home.
|Pack Leaders: (l to r) Quietman, Boom, Bruzer, Schmuck and Joker|
“Gundy” is the Commander (Leader) of CVMA NC 15-1 and had overall responsibility for CM2. “QuietMan” conducted the pre-ride safety briefing, and “Cowboy” led the riders, families, and friends in prayer. God blessed us when he gave us Cowboy. Cowboy is a member of the Christian Motorcyclists Association and has a full-service motorcycle repair shop in his trailer: “Covered Wagon Services.”
|Top: Operation Helping Hands for Heroes supprting this mission|
Bottom: (l to r) Gundy, Cowboy and Quietman give the pre-ride safety briefing
Jim Kazakavage flew a Gold Star flag on his yellow GoldWing, while his wife, Christi, was chauffeured by Ol’ Bill “Jammer” from sunny Durham on his Harley. I like to think that Jim’s GoldWing is Gold, not yellow, because it is symbolic of the Gold Star. Christi is the Gold Star Mother of Tech Sgt Adam K. Ginett, US Air Force, killed in action on 19 January 2010 in Afghanistan.
On this mission, I brought the US flag that we carried across America in May 2011 in honor of our Fallen Heroes, while Thomas Sanders carried the Fallen Heroes roster from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, a Christian Flag, an Honor and Remember Flag, and a Patriot Guard Riders flag. I also wore the Gold Star bandana that I wore across America in honor of our Gold Star Mothers and Families. For those who do not know, a Blue Star Mother is a mother whose child is now serving or has served in our armed forces. A Gold Star Mother is a mother who lost a child while in service to our country. The Dogwood Chapter of the American Gold Star Mothers nominated and accepted me as an Associate Chapter Member in January 2011 because of what I do and have come to symbolize. I’m still barkless over being accepted by this truly honorable and exclusive organization of mothers whose children gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
Because of the number of bikes, we were divided into two packs. The first pack left at about 11:10am led by QuietMan. The second pack left at about 11:30am led by Schmuck. Gundy led the first pack to a cemetery at Lebanon Methodist Church at Mill Spring, NC. We arrived at the cemetery shortly after the first pack departed, and Gundy was there to meet us, read a citation, and then he return to Lillington to prepare for the closing ceremony. At the church cemetery lies PFC Bryant Homer Womack. On March 12, 1952, PFC Womack was the only medic assigned to a night combat patrol. The patrol came into contact with a much larger nK force and the US patrol took casualties. PFC Womack provided medical aid to the wounded, although he, too, was also seriously wounded and refused medical aid. While helping a wounded soldier, he was hit by fragments from a mortar and lost use of his right arm. He refused medical aid again and helped the wounded by directing others in apply aid to the wounded. He was the last man to withdraw and collapsed due to blood loss. A few minutes later, he died while being carried by his fellow soldiers. PFC Womack was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award that a military man or woman can receive. Womack Army Hospital on Ft Bragg, NC was named after PFC Bryant H. Womack.
We departed Mill Spring and ran into rain in Charlotte, NC and then south of Johnson City, TN. We didn’t run into rain at night, but we ran into rain again south of Richmond, VA and into North Carolina. We rode out of the rain by the time we arrived in Benson, and we had humidity and partly sunny skies on the final leg from Dunn, NC to Lillington. My driver and I have rain gear, which he calls sauna suits during the summer. With scattered thunderstorms during the summer, we carry our rain gear with us, but we usually prefer to get wet and cool off rather than put on our sauna suits.
We had two bikes that we know of that didn’t finish the ride due to mechanical or electrical breakdowns. We had problems with our engine shutting off when we were caught in Friday afternoon traffic nearly Shelby. At one point, our Harley was dead, wouldn’t fire up while we were coasting. We pulled off the road and the “Covered Wagon” pulled in behind us along with Cowboy, Thomas Sanders, and our pack’s tailgunner. My driver didn’t want to give up and was able to fire her up. She would run OK at highway speeds, but would die in stop-and-go traffic. Cowboy and my driver talked over the CB and they thought we may have had a load of bad gas (gasoline, that is, not digestive). After two more refuels, my Harley was running fine and we were OK, except for my occasional gas blasts that my driver could smell. It probably came from eating too much of my duck and chicken jerky along with snacks shared by my biker friends. But, that’s OK – it’s all part of the experience!
|Night Refuel near Natural Bridge, VA|
We stopped for fuel, water and snacks about every 100 miles. The route took us up the Shenandoah Valley on I-81 at night. We crossed the 38th parallel at about Greenville, VA, which is the approximate latitude in which the Korean War ceased fire and the border became the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The two packs linked up on the interstate after midnight, and I think it was before we reached I-66 or soon after heading east on I-66 towards Washington, DC. We became one pack for the rest of the ride. We visited the Korean War memorial at about 4:00am, spent about 20-30 minutes there, took a group photo, then mounted up and headed south on I-95 to North Carolina. While at our final refuel stop in Benson, Wizard mounted flags on his bike, and we rode to Dunn to link up with waiting friends and family. My mom and my driver’s grandson, Chase, were also in Dunn to greet us. In Dunn, Harnett County Sheriff Deputies escorted the bikers, family and friends to Lillington.
|Group photo at the Korea War Memorial, Washington DC|
After arriving in Lillington, Gundy led the closing ceremony and introduced us to Paul Hinkle, a Korean War veteran. CVMA NC 15-1 Auxiliary presented me with a bandana and made me an Honorary Mascot of the Auxiliary. After the closing ceremony and group photos, there were handshakes, hugs, and ear scratches and many went to the VFW post in Lillington, which had lunch waiting for us. It was hot and humid and I know I would not be allowed in the VFW post due to health codes, so I took my driver home so he could give me a nice cool bath. I snoozed the rest of the day.
For those who follow me on my website or my Facebook page, you know that this is my second IronButt ride with CVMA NC 15-1. There were other two-time Charlie Mikers on this ride: QuietMan, Glock, Wizard, Brian Volk, John and Paula Edwards, and my driver. Last year, CVMA gave me the road name “IronMutt” after we passed the halfway point, and that road name stuck to me.
This ride was planned and coordinated pawtastically. Safety was important throughout the ride and there were no injuries. Will there be a Charlie Mike 2012? If so, where will they go and what will be the primary mission? Since dogs age much faster than humans, CM2 may have been my last long ride. If there is a CM3, we will decide whether or not I will be able to be part of the ride as the ride date approaches.
I posted about 800 photos with some narratives of the ride on my Facebook page. Go to my website (www.bikerdoggie.com) to find the links to my photos. Unless something changes, you do not need a Facebook account to see these photos.
What will I be doing over the coming weeks? I hope to ride in the USO Freedom Ride on September 10 at Ray Price Harley-Davidson in Raleigh, NC. I’ve been part of this ride since I mounted my Harley. Also, the Annual Ray Price Capital City Bikefest will be in Raleigh, NC on September 23-25. Since becoming a biker dog, the only Bikefest I missed was in 2009, which was about two weeks after my driver and I were hit while on our Harley. I hope to be there again this year, but I also plan to spend a few hours with Operation Helping Hands for Heroes at Benson Mule Days on September 24. On October 16, Abundant Life Worship Center in Angier, NC will be sponsoring a fund raiser for my friends at Patriot Rovers (www.patriotrovers.org), which is an organization that provides trained companion dogs to veterans with PTSD. David Cantara, the organization’s founder, says that the idea partially came from observing how I interact with grieving families and friends at military funerals.
Ride safe and keep your tongue in the wind!(more photos below)
ChewyIBA Member 35700
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Behind Barz Magazine
|Pre-Ride group photo|
|The Gold Star flag of Chrisi and Jim Kazakavage. Ol' Bill "Jammer" was|
Christi's chauffeur on this mission while Jim rode solo on his Gold (Yellow) GoldWing
|Sharing a smile with Schmuck at a peach stand|
|Womack Army Hosptial on Ft Bragg was named after this Medal of Honor hero|
|Riding through the night|
|QuietMan preparing to lead the merged pack into Washington, DC|
|Arriving in Washington, DC|
|A portion of the Korea War Memorial|
|Wizard and the sunrise east of Richmond, VA|
|Glock and QuietMan are both veterans of the first Charlie Mike|
|Brian Volk is a veteran of the first Charlie Mike|
|Wizard with flags in the wind|
|Paul Hinkle, Korea War veteran|
|Chase (my driver's grandson) watched me so my driver could take pictures|
|My CVMA NC15-1 bandana from the Auxiliary|