By Pfc. Khori D. Johnson, 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div. PAOJuly 29, 2010
Contingency Operating Base Adder witnessed a showcase of aerial maneuvers and extreme antics courtesy of the second Bikes Over Baghdad Tour, sponsored by the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, at the House of Pain Gym June 21.
With about 200 service members and civilians in attendance, a group of BMX riders and a skate boarder put on a show that 1st Lt. Brett Hernandez, personnel programs officer for 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div., said produced an incredible crowd reaction. The process of preparing the show was no simple task with many different elements coming together to make the event possible, said Christian Schauf, the tour manager.
Nate Wessel, a renowned ramp builder and one of the performers, was the lead man on the task of constructing the skate park for the event. He and Ron Kimler, another performer, were able to build a variety of ramps that incorporated two Army vehicles, a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and a fuel tanker.
"We like taking an object that you guys see every day and using in a way you never would've thought," said Zachary Yankush, a performer and commentator for the show. "Just like with the Bradley, you guys may see that thing every single day. But you guys probably never thought in a million years that you'd see someone do a back flip over one."
During the event, each athlete displayed a signature style, such as spins on top of a fuel tanker and even jumping over the 3rd BCT's senior noncommissioned officer, Command Sgt. Maj. Miles Wilson, as he sat on top of a BFV.
"We put in work because you guys deserve it," Yankush said. "What you guys do over here directly affects me and I'm so appreciative of that. This is the least we can do."
Yankush has a strong tie with the U.S. military. His brother, Air Force Staff Sgt. Adam Yankush, recently finished his fourth tour.
"I know what Soldiers' families go through, and I know what it's like to have a loved one over here," he said.
Yankush said he is constantly telling people about his experiences while on the Bikes Over Baghdad tours.
"Most of the time when you hear about Iraq, it's negative news," he said. "But when I came over here during my first tour, I didn't see any negativity. All I saw was positive things: the lives that you guys are changing, the buildings that are being built, schools, hospitals, bridges. Lives are being changed, and you never see that on TV."