MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Though a motorcycle can be a great gas saver, most motorcycles owners don’t ride out of necessity. To these men and women, it’s all about the thrill and freedom of the open road. But, with freedom also comes responsibility. The Marine Corps is constantly searching for unique ways to keep its riders cruising safely.
Marine motorcycle owners must follow strict safety standards, including wearing specific personal protective equipment, informing their commands of bike ownership and taking motorcycle safety courses. The Marine Corps has also found a way to build camaraderie and responsibility among riders Corps-wide by implementing motorcycle mentorship programs.
II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group is the home of one of these mentorship programs. Motorcycle owners in II MHG participate in periodic rides together, where they not only talk about safety on the road, but also put their words into action.
“It’s not a matter of if an accident will happen, it’s a matter of when … when a rock will fall, when a car will stop suddenly, or when a pothole will be in the middle of the road,” explained 1st Sgt. Robert Sands, the II MHG first sergeant and leader of II MHG’s motorcycle mentorship program. “If they learn the proper techniques now, when they get out there on their own they’ll know what to do.”
II MHG’s mentorship program encompasses riders within Headquarters and Service Company. Currently, the program boasts about 45 members, both male and female, who have a wide range of riding experience.
“When we get together, new riders can gain valuable experience from those Marines who have been riding for years,” said Staff Sgt. John Stein, assistant motor transport maintenance chief and motorcycle owner. “Most Marines usually ride alone, but as an avid motorcyclist, you need to master the skill of riding in a group of motorcycles as well as alone; our monthly rides are an excellent way to refine this skill.”
Members of II MHG’s program most recently rode as a group from New River, N.C., to Myrtle Beach, S.C., Aug. 27, 2010. They checked over each others’ motorcycles before they took to the highway, watched over each other on the road, and discussed the ride after they arrived in Myrtle Beach.
Cpl. Cory Garrison, a Marine Corps Integrated Maintenance Management System clerk and member of the mentorship program, said he enjoys the rides he takes with his fellow Marines and understands that even though they are there to learn, they can still have a good time.
“If safe habits are enforced, it may help save the lives of our Marines on the road, because we will ride regardless,” said Garrison. “It is also a great way for Marines to build camaraderie by sharing a passion for something.”
Members of the II MHG motorcycle mentorship program will continue to ride in the name of safety, because, when it comes down to it, the focus remains on saving Marines’ lives.
“The Marine Corps’ most valuable assets are Marines,” Stein explained. “I support anything that will help keep our Marines safe.”