By Sgt. Mary S. Katzenberger, 4IBCT Public AffairsSeptember 8, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - The vibration of the throttle under the left hand; the roar of the pipes; the backward pull of the body after the clutch engages the next gear--these are only the first few of the many sensations a motorcycle in motion injects into a rider.
For some, motorcycling is the preferred method of air conditioning used for beating Georgia's heat.
An increasing number of Soldiers are choosing to embrace the sensation and beat the heat by commuting and recreating with motorcycles. While the mode of transportation is equal parts exhilarating and economical, the combined level of risk is high.
Soldiers who operate motorcycles are at an increased risk for sustaining accidents and injuries versus their chances when driving standard automobiles. For this reason, training Soldiers to ride motorcycles to arrive alive is paramount.
The 4-3 Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division, acknowledged the necessity of training inexperienced motorcycle riders--and reinforcing safe riding techniques for experienced riders--Aug. 29 by hosting "Vanguard Thunder," a brigade-level motorcycle mentorship ride.
During the 150-mile safety ride, organized by Sgt. 1st Class Curtis E. Oxendine, battalion motorcycle mentor for 4-3 BSTB, inexperienced riders were paired with experienced mentors from within their units to allow leaders to assess their Soldier's strengths and weaknesses while riding in a formation. Thorough motorcycle inspections and hands-on instructional classes held before and during the ride served as the glue that bound the various safety lessons together.
Ninety-four "Vanguard" Soldiers participated in the ride.
Sergeant First Class Latee C. Dubose, a telecommunications operations chief assigned to Company C, 4-3 BSTB, said the event was important because it was held within the brigade's 90-day redeployment reintegration period.
The 4th IBCT redeployed in June from a 12-month tour in the Al Anbar province of Iraq.
"You have a lot of young Soldiers who are coming back from [the] deployment who [are purchasing] motorcycles," Sgt. 1st Class Dubose said. "This gave them the opportunity to ride on the road with fellow Soldiers and be in a controlled environment."
Lieutenant Colonel George E. Lewis III, commander of 4-3 BSTB, and a motorcycle rider who participated in "Vanguard Thunder," said the ride was the culmination of the safety training the brigade's motorcycle operators have received from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course and through safety classes held at the company and battalion levels.
"[Motorcycle safety is] good for the individual Soldier … it's good for the military community to have safe riders, and [it's good for] the community at large because our guys are riding out there every day," Lt. Col. Lewis said. "If the community knows that we're doing what we can to be safe, hopefully they're doing the same thing."
The battalion commander said he hoped the event encouraged unseasoned motorcycle riders to reach out to their experienced battle buddies or mentors whenever they have questions about safe motorcycle operation.
Like Sgt. 1st Class Dubose, Lt. Col. Lewis said he also believed that "Vanguard Thunder" was scheduled at the right time; he said that it was especially important that the brigade focused on motorcycle safety before Labor Day weekend kicked off.
"'Vanguard' is proud to sponsor this kind of event [and] to support [the division's] initiatives in motorcycle safety," Lt. Col. Lewis said.