Even though it was a beautiful day, there was thunder on Fort Jackson June 4.
It couldn’t have been a better day for a ride – the sun was shining and a cool breeze blowing, and the installation was holding a Victory Thunder Motorcycle Ride to promote rider safety.
For the more than 45 riders it would be even better. They would be able to ride together with friends while learning how to be safe on their bikes during the motorcycle mentorship event.
“It was worth the time for us to bring all the motorcycle riders together, talk about things that we had not talked about before such as the safety of the business,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Michaelis, Fort Jackson commander and avid rider to the group before they departed. In the year since he took command Fort Jackson focused on a motorcycle mentorship program.
Mary Reardon, a Fort Jackson safety official, said Victory Thunder was a “rare opportunity” to promote motorcycle safety at the post level.
The motorcycle mentorship program is promoted at the Army level because of the high incident rates.
“The big thing is pairing up within the battalion an experienced with a less experienced person to promote mentorship within the organization,” she said.
“It is a good time for us to remind ourselves of how vulnerable we are as motorcycle riders …,” Michaelis said. “Every time we get on those bikes, we put ourselves in a position of compromise.”
The event was also a memorial of sorts for the late Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hartz – who was the post’s top motorcycle mentor.
“This is a bit of a memorial to him …,” Michaelis said, “for all the work he did for us all here on Fort Jackson and making sure we were safe when riding motorcycles.”
The riders themselves felt the importance of the ride.
“I think its very important because it gives the Soldiers a chance to ride with group,” said Dwight Jackson, who was the trail rider during the ride. The riders learned to get used to using hand signals while riding in a group.
Victory Thunder was one of multiple motorcycle mentorship rides held on post.
“We actually did one over on Darby Field,” Reardon said. “We incorporated the South Carolina Highway Patrol. One of the highway patrol officers gave an enhanced safety briefing sharing a close encounter he had at 70 miles an hour.”
All military riders are required to have taken the basic rider course before they test ride a motorcycle, moped or all-terrain vehicle. The course is given free on post and during duty hours. After that course no earlier than 90 days but no early than a year, the riders take progressive training. There is also an advanced rider’s course for more experienced riders and those who own sport bikes.
For more information on the courses, contact the Installation Safety Office at 751-7233.