"Thunder Ride" circles Oahu fostering motorcycle safety and camaraderie

By Staff Sgt. Cashmere C. JeffersonSeptember 8, 2011

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FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii--Skeleton masked smiles graced the faces of some riders, while others wore helmets topped with neon colored mohawks. Different helmets of every imaginable design could be seen here. The thunderous sound of roaring engines could be heard throughout Takata Field where more than 800 motorcyclists kicked off the U.S. Army Pacific "One Team" Thunder Rider, Sept. 1.

USARPAC Soldiers, representing Army commands across Oahu rode approximately 81 miles around the island to enhance safety awareness while promoting camaraderie and esprit de corps amongst USARPAC motorcyclists.

"Motorcycle safety is everyone's responsibility even for the folks on four wheels," said USARPAC Command Sgt. Maj. Frank M. Leota. "We encourage whether you are on post or off post to have on your PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) at all times. It's a rule."

Leota, an avid motorcyclists with many years of experience, gave a few words of wisdom to new motorcycle enthusiasts.

"The biggest thing I tell new motorcycle riders is to partner up with another experienced rider, the experienced rider will be able to teach, coach, mentor, and educate the rider on the rules of the road and safe driving," he said.

As the Noncommissioned Officer in charge of the event and the last Soldier off Takata Field, Leota ensured every Soldier, Civilian, and Family Member departed from Fort Shafter safely. He also emphasized the importance of the motorcycle mentorship program in USARPAC.

"We drove 81 miles, zero accidents, and not even a close call," Leota proudly announced.

"I attribute the success of this event to the motorcycle mentorship program at the company, battalion, and brigade level," he said. "The motorcycle mentorship program is key to ensure that our new riders and our experienced riders, all ride safe together."

All riders participating in the event were required to have completed the Army mandated motorcycle safety class, and pass routine inspections prior to being able to ride off-post.

"It's good that the senior leaders are taking this opportunity to ride with the Soldiers in their units," said Sgt. Maj. Jessie L. Tyson from the 311th Signal Command, who came to support the 56 Soldiers of his unit who participated in the event . "It also allows leaders to do a visual inspection to ensure they are operating to the motorcycle safety standard.

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