By Sgt. Matthew C. CooleyApril 1, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas - The motorcycles roared and grumbled loudly as they came down the road in what looked like a staggered column formation. Colorful sport bikes whizzed by as leather-clad cruisers thundered past.
This was not a local biker club, these were the Soldiers of the 15th Sustainment Brigade.
15th SB Soldiers, retirees, friends and family members rode their motorcycles out to Stillhouse Hollow Dam Park in Belton, Texas, March 19 as part of the brigade's ongoing motorcycle safety program.
Before the ride, Soldiers' first line supervisors inspected the bikes for safety and experienced riders taught classes on proper riding techniques and hand signals.
Dave Sullivan, 15th SB's safety officer, said that one of the main intents of the exercise was to teach supervisors what a safe motorcycle looks like, as not all supervisors ride or know about motorcycles.
"Every accident is predictable and preventable," Col. Larry Phelps, 15th SB commander said to the group as they stopped to eat lunch by the lake.
Charlie Rodriguez, a Nolanville police officer, spoke to the group about motorcycle safety and the loss of his son in a motorcycle accident.
Rodriguez's son, was a young sergeant with a wife and an 18 year old son of his own when he was involved in the fatal crash, Rodriguez said.
His son was bringing home an intoxicated friend on the friend's motorcycle, but he didn't have any experience or even a license for a bike. It was also a sport bike built for one.
Although Rodriguez's son had safety gear on, his passenger did not.
Rodriguez explained to the group what an eye witness said they saw.
"He looked in the rearview mirror and saw the bike sliding down the curb," Rodriguez said, trying not to choke on the words.
"They were ejected from the bike."
Rodriguez explained that the passenger, who was also a Soldier and not wearing a helmet, was pronounced dead on the scene. His son passed later at the hospital. His helmet had broken into three pieces due to the high speed and rocky terrain.
Rodriguez pleaded with the Soldier-riders to wear their protective equipment and to make sure they are doing the right thing when they ride.
"They're going to miss you if something happens to you," he said of the Soldiers' families.
Phelps said that the roads are dangerous enough for riders due to the carelessness of others on the road and that riders need to be aware of that.
"You can't control that SUV riding around with a McDonald's glass in one hand a cell phone in the other," Phelps said.
"I just want us to do all that we can do the right way."