Motorcycle enthusiasts get things rolling during annual safety awareness event

  • Published
  • By Valerie Mullett
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs Office
The weather wasn't perfect but it didn't dampen the spirits of nearly 50 motorcycle enthusiasts who brought their bikes out to participate in Rolling Thunder, the annual motorcycle safety awareness day event. Although the skies were threatening rain throughout the morning, the threat never materialized. This year's outing started and finished at the Health and Wellness Center parking lot, but included a fun ride in between.

"It is important to hold this type of event each year because with all the mandates that the DoD and AFI's require, the wing needs a program to bring it all to life," said Kelly Nathe, 341st Missile Wing Traffic Safety Manager. "If you put faces to the programs, the process flows much better. It brings that level of awareness that is needed."

Registration for the motorcycle and car show started at 9 a.m. with safety day activities beginning at 10 a.m. A DJ was on hand to keep the crowd entertained. Free food - hot dogs, chips and drinks - was sponsored by the Malmstrom Top 3, First Sergeants and Chiefs groups. Members of the 341st Civil Engineer Squadron manned the grills and served the food.

Wing leadership - the commander, vice commander and command chief - all arrived atop their motorcycles and mingled with the other bikers. At noon, Colonel Fortney and Chief Kent provided a safety briefing before announcing the winners of the bike and car competition. Staff Sgt. Emmanuel Martinez, 819th RED HORSE Squadron, won first place in the motorcycle category and Warrior Hoeser from the Warrior Brotherhood, won first place in the car competition. In a 15-minute window, the nearly 50 riders then found their place in the line to participate in the two-stop fun ride.

"I think it's [an event like Rolling Thunder] a great way to kick off the riding season," said Tech. Sgt. Keith Hittler, President of the Green Knights Chapter 72 motorcycle club. "It gets everyone out riding with a focus on safety from the start."

The fun ride took the group into the Highwood Mountains for their first stop, then they back-tracked and went in to Belt for a second stop before returning to the base.

"All of the stops had drawings for donated door prizes," Sergeant Hittler said.

By 3:30 p.m., the event had been wrapped up for another year. For many, it was their initial exposure to motorcycles and for others who are veteran riders, it was a chance to meet a few new people to ride with.

"By far, this was the best Rolling Thunder we've seen in the past four years," Mr. Nathe said. "The team effort by all those involved was unmatched. It is nice to have so much help and hands on. And hopefully, when we put on a good, sound program at the start of the riding season like this, most that come out and see will make that right choice and do it right the first time."