News: Bikers Rally for Military Charities
Story by Spc. Timothy Koster
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. – Despite a forecast which all but guaranteed foul weather, nothing stopped approximately 600 motorcyclists from enjoying the fifth annual Armed Forces Freedom Ride, here, Sunday, May 15.
The riders began their morning at Barb’s Harley Davidson in Mount Ephraim, N.J., before entering the base, taking a route around the McGuire flight line and ending at Doughboy field.
For a $30 registration fee participants were able to enjoy a ride around the base, a barbeque and interactive stations by various event sponsors. The proceeds from the event benefited the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation and the Burlington County Military Affairs Committee.
“This ride is specifically to thank the military, past and present,” said Barbara Borowiec, owner of Barb’s Harley-Davidson and one of the organizers of this year’s event. “I organize it because that’s what I truly want to do. I want to thank the military for the sacrifices that they make.”
Best Buy, one of this year’s event sponsors, set up a tent where patrons could test their skills on the Nintendo Wii for a chance to win a copy of the game “Harley-Davidson Road Trip.”
Rider Insurance, which specializes in motorcycle insurance, and Hog Caps, a company which creates custom fuel caps for motorcycles, also had tents with products and information for those in attendance.
While the ride was able to raise money to benefit some great organizations and help some families in need, it also helped raise awareness for the outside community of what happens on post.
“All of our military installations have become little fortresses,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Gina M. Grosso, commander of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, “and so the community that pays the taxes that funds the military doesn’t understand what we do. Anytime we have a chance to have them come on the installation and see just a little bit about where all their taxpayer dollars go, and how we provide combat capability from here, we get a win-win.”
Key-note speakers for the event included retired Marine Lt. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer, former Deputy Commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs at Quantico, Va.; Air Force Brig. Gen. William J. Bender, Commander, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center, here, and Medal of Honor recipient retired Army 1st Lt. Brian Miles Thacker.
Thacker, a Vietnam veteran, said he has the utmost respect for events like this, citing there was nothing similar to this during his time in the Army and that it is important for Americans to support service members during their time of service.
“Yes, we’ve got guys out front, that’s the bad news,” said Thacker, “but we’ve got their back.”
For more information about next year’s Armed Forces Freedom Ride contact Barb’s Harley-Davidson at 856-456-4141.