RICHMOND, Va. -- It's sad when you lose a family member. That's how some of the 80th Training Command (TASS) soldiers felt on their motorcycle ride, starting at the 80th TC Family Programs Center here, in honor of Sgt. Scott "Tony" McGinnis on Oct. 6, 2016.
On July 4, 2016, McGinnis, assigned to the 800th Logistics Support Brigade Headquarters, died in a motorcycle accident in Centre, Ala. Originally from Cedar Bluff, Ga., 22-year-old McGinnis was riding a 2002 Yamaha motorcycle through Centre when he was struck by another vehicle. McGinnis was wearing a helmet and all the proper personal protective equipment.
"It's so sad and unfortunate that this happened to him," said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Baker, motorcycle mentor for the 80th TC. "McGinnis had been doing all the right things. He had completed the motorcycle safety training and had on his PPE, but he still lost his life. We feel really sad for his family, too."
The 80th TC chaplain's office coordinated the motorcycle ride "in dedication and remembrance of McGinnis," said Maj. Stephen Yarber, the 80th TC deputy command chaplain. He pointed out that, prior to taking off, each rider goes through a motorcycle safety checklist to ensure they are good to go.
In an effort to prevent motorcycle accidents, Melissa Martinez, safety director for the 80th TC, is working on garnering more support from soldiers throughout the command and its down-trace units. She wants to increase participation in group rides, especially for the units' part-time Army Reserve soldiers.
"We're hoping to gain more support from our soldiers who ride," said Martinez. "It's vitally important that all our soldiers who ride, not just full time but our part-time soldiers as well, learn to arm themselves with better techniques to ride sensibly and safely. So far, we've had only Active Guard Reserve soldiers participating. We're stressing that everyone who owns a motorcycle is invited and encouraged to come to the mentorship group rides."
Martinez said that the command wants to conduct rides at least semi-annually.
"Under the 80th umbrella, we're working on getting a more actively involved riding group, so that we can hopefully avoid future accidents and fatalities," said Martinez. "One death is one too many."