Military policemen escort the more than 35 Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion Soldiers out of Fort Stewart, at the start of the battalion’s first-ever motorcycle safety stand-down, June 23.

More than 35 division Soldiers took to the roads, June 23, in the Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion's first-ever motorcycle safety stand-down.

Through a combined effort by the Fort Stewart Military Police, the Claxton Police Department, Harley-Davidson and the Georgia State Patrol, riders made the 137-mile trek from Fort Stewart to Savannah Harley-Davidson.

Prior to the ride, the Soldiers received some instruction on maintenance, speeding and the consequences of riding under the influence from members of the Georgia State Patrol, as well as reminding participants of the installation and state rules and regulations on motorcycle riding.
Safety, however, remained the key message throughout the day’s events.

“The goal of the ride was to make aware the importance of safety on motorcycles,” said Chief Warrant Officer Alton Kendall, DHHB battalion maintenance technician.

Unit motorcycle mentors performed inspections on the bikes, meanwhile teaching Soldiers the proper way of doing them. They also stressed the importance of " among other things " wearing their personal protective equipment.

"The Motorcycle Mentorship Program needs support from all levels," said Sgt. Maj. Michael Doggett, PMO sergeant major, Operations Company, DHHB. "How can we as leaders expect their junior Soldiers, especially those just starting out, to participate if we don't set the example and enforce the standards?"

While the majority of the participants were experienced riders, some viewed the training as a welcome refresher.

Captain Carol Vanderhorst, assistant S-3 from Headquarters Support Company, DHHB, viewed motorcycle riding from a passenger’s perspective until 2002, when she made the transition from passenger to rider. "I didn't want to be in the back," said Capt. Vanderhorst.

A rider since the early 1990s, Sgt. Maj. Doggett took a 15-year break. But he eventually realized how much he missed riding.

On a bike, said Sgt. Maj. Doggett, "You get a whole new perspective for the road and your surroundings."

For others, the ride also served as an opportunity to build solidarity.

"This is a good morale boost," said Capt. Vanderhorst. "It helps build unit cohesion and you meet new people to ride with."

"It's a way of supporting the program, while you get to ride with fellow riders in the battalion," said Sgt. 1st Class Jose Gomez, PMO operations NCO, Ops Co., DHHB. "I never miss an opportunity to ride."

“The ride itself is an esprit de corps event,” Chief Warrant Officer Kendall said. “You want to build that camaraderie and have fun, but also be safe throughout the whole event.”

Chief Warrant Officer Kendall added that while it’s okay to have fun, safety should always remain in everyone’s mind.

“We should have an awareness of safety all the time " not just at work, but in everything we do in our daily lives. Risk management is a tool we should use in everything we do.”

Page last updated Thu July 7th, 2011 at 10:03