MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – -- For more than 100 years, motorcycles have been around and have been a fun past time for riding enthusiasts. With the rising costs in gas prices and Marines coming back from deployments with money to spend, motorcycles are becoming more appealing to riders – even to those with no riding experience at all.
In accordance with the II Marine Expeditionary Force Policy Letter 03-06, the mission is to establish, operate and maintain a motorcycle club program to enhance motorcycle safety throughout the MEF.
“I intend to immediately capitalize on our seasoned and experienced motorcycle riders, in every command, down to the battalion and squadron level,” said Lt. Gen. James F. Amos, commanding general, II MEF, in his policy letter. “Command motorcycle clubs will be designed to promote enjoyable, responsible, and mature driving behavior, for all II MEF motorcycle riders, in order to drastically reduce the number of motorcycle mishaps.”
Some units aboard the base were well ahead of the April 14, deadline, as several motorcycle clubs have already been formed and have been in operation for several months.
“When the message came out, we did a data call around the unit to see who rode motorcycles and put together a roster. Master Sgt. (Robert D.) Bell and Master Sgt. (Clint E.) Schultz and I designed the program to instill safety and proper riding techniques,” said Capt. Robert L. Corl, Logistics Officer, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion. “It took us a month to get the program up and running, and our first ride was in January. We now do it once a month.”
However, before a rider can participate in the club, the required “Basic Rider Course” must be completed. The course is a minimum training requirement for all Marines and Sailors owning and operating motorcycles.
“We did the data call for vehicles, we found out who had licenses and took the safety course and who didn’t,” Corl said. “If not, we enrolled them in the required courses to make sure that they were legally riding their bike on base also.”
Hollywood has traditionally characterized motorcycle clubs as causing trouble and being notorious for their run-ins with law enforcement. Far from that image, these new bike clubs plan to work to promote a safe riding environment for the junior Marines, riders new and old and build unit camaraderie.
“I have been riding my bike for a year and I rode dirt bikes before I bought my new motorcycle. I think this helps teach young riders like me more responsibility and self control,” said Cpl. Anthony Lee, motor transport operator, 2nd CEB. “In a large group there’s pressure to go fast or do something that might even get you killed. I think it’s a great idea to start implementing the clubs and it helps the unit Marines to get to know each other better and build up esprit de corps.”
Along with promoting a safe riding environment, 2nd CEB’s motorcycle club incorporates a little bit of history into the trip.
“We try to keep the (period of military education) sites tied with military history, so for the first two rides we went to civil war sites and learned about different events that happened,” Corl said. “The rides have gone well so far, and our ultimate goal is to do an overnight trip and sponsor a ride for charity. We want to get the Marine Corps name out there and help people.”
As motorcycle clubs are forming, a II MEF “steering committee” has been put together to continue the development of bike clubs and to coordinate different types of courses, training opportunities and prepare “tool kits” for commands.
For example, Marine Corps Air Station New River is sponsoring a Motorcycle Rodeo, April 21.
“My desired end-state is that all required II MEF commands will have well led and effective motorcycle club programs, with all riding Marines and Sailors fully participating in the same; whereby, all our motorcyclists ride their bikes in the safest possible manner,” Amos explained in his policy letter.
The MEF commanding general, who has taken a hard line on safety, mentioned his support of activities like the rodeo and the motorcycle clubs, promoting safe enjoyment while keeping our Marines and Sailors safe and “ready to return to the fight.”
For more information on motorcycle clubs, contact unit bike club representatives. For more information on May 21’s motorcycle rodeo, contact New River’s air station safety officer, Maj. Mel Love at 449-5436.