MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The winding mountain roads were difficult to navigate while driving in the safety of a car and it seemed like a treacherous pass to complete on a motorcycle, but that’s half the fun. The sky was clear and the air was cool. It was a good day to ride.
Approximately 40 Combat Center motorcycle riders from 1st Marine Division units rode to Big Bear City, Calif., to visit the Vietnam Veteran’s Traveling Memorial wall, as part of the Blue Diamond East motorcycle ride, Sept. 27.
Group motorcycle rides are commonly organized by units as an opportunity to increase the proficiency of riders and improve mentorship throughout the ranks.
“We’ve got a lot of experienced riders and a lot of inexperienced riders so there’s a lot of mentorship and some coaching going on,” said CWO 2 James DeSelms, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, & Nuclear Officer, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. “Anytime you can get riders out, a novice rider with an experienced rider, they get a little coaching from the experienced riders and just teach them based off experience.”
The winding loops leading up the mountain as well as the presence of fellow riders proved the riders skills and their ability to ride as a group.
The ride to Big Bear was unique, as their destination held special significance. A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was on display in the city serving as a special tribute to those who gave their lives during the Vietnam conflict.
“2/7 was supposed to do a battalion ride back when the rain got real bad,” said DeSelms, a Motorcycle Safety Foundation coach. “We postponed it and then we found out the Vietnam wall was coming so we pushed it until today, so the battalion could ride up and pay our respects.”
The battalion conducts a motorcycle ride every other month, but for this ride they wanted to include other units in their division.
“I didn’t want to do it by ourselves,” DeSelms said. “The units here wanted to do something where we pull everybody in and do something together. So I reached out to (1st Tank Battalion) and (3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion) and got them to come along to build camaraderie between the units.”
The bikers arrived at the memorial with the roar of more than 40 motorcycle engines, but once they arrived there was silence. The riders walked alongside the black wall, inscribed with the names of the deceased in white and were given the opportunity to talk to Vietnam era veterans.
“I enjoyed the ride and the wall was very moving,” said Cpl. Abney, Keegan, intelligence analyst, 2/7.
Unit motorcycle rides are meant to increase safety and skill on bikes, but the Blue Diamond riders will remember this ride as a day they paid tribute to the men who came before them and paid the ultimate sacrifice.