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ROLLING THUNDER XXV U.S. MARINE CORPS TRIBUTE BIKE
Introduction and Dedication
When Jay Allen asked me to be a part of the Rolling Thunder XXV Tribute bike project I was honored and accepted on the spot. During Arizona Bike Week 2011 Jay delivered the donated S&S Flathead Power Panhead motor to my shop and told me to pick a branch of the military. There was no question that I would pay tribute to the U.S. Marine Corps. The hard core, live by the sword, die by the sword mentality of the Marines has always hit home with me.
One Marine in particular, Corporal Byron Hall of State College, PA was the driving force and inspiration for my project. Byron or "Pap" as I knew him, was a 2nd generation US Marine and his sons and their sons willingly followed in his footsteps and carried on the Hall legacy of serving in the US Marine Corps. Byron's grandson is currently deployed in Afghanistan and we ask for prayers for his safety and well being. Byron was born to be a Marine, entering this world on Veterans Day, November 11, 1935. Byron served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1955-1963 in Perris Island, NC and Camp Lejeune, NC.Ending his service with the Marines as a Corporal, Byron went on to lead a long and distinguished career in law enforcement serving as a Chief of Police, Chief Deputy Sheriff and a Dept. of Corrections officer in the State College, PA area. Byron loved motorcycles and passed the love of them on to his son Chris who he later worked for at Extreme Custom Cycles in State College.
I had the pleasure of having "Pap" answer the phone when I would call and he always had a joke or a story to tell and loved to visit so much that you couldn't get off the phone with him very easily. In 2008 "Pap" started having some health issues and wasn't able to work as hard anymore and I only got to visit with him on special occasions when he would just "happen in" to Extreme and just happen to pick up the phone. Those occasions became fewer and farther in between and as God calls all of his children home at some point, he took Byron home on April 17, 2012. It is with great sadness that we say goodbye and we will surely miss him, but an angel is surely watching over us now. In loving memory of Byron "Pap" Hall, and in your honor Bourget's dedicates the Rolling Thunder XXV U.S. Marine Corps Tribute Bike. Oorah!
I would like to thank Bourget's sponsors in helping to bring to life the U.S. Marine Corps tribute bike. In addition to S&S Cycle donating the Panhead motor, Baker Drivetrain graciously provided us with their "Frankentranny". The Frankentranny is a retro style 6 speed Transmission with a Kicker. Rivera/Primo was more than happy to come aboard as well and we thank them for graciously donating a Primo Brute III closed belt drive clutch assembly. Additional BBW Sponsors include Bourget Dealers - Bourget's of Rochester - Rochester, NY, Extreme Custom Cycles -Pleasant Gap, PA, and Brian Horstmann - Sinthium Kustom Paint, Inc. - Phoenix, AZ.
In addition to my Sponsors I would also like to most importantly thank Moots McDonagh and Michael Lininger for driving 40 hours non-stop from Phoenix, AZ to Washington DC to safely deliver the U.S. Marine Corps tribute bike. Without them this would not have been possible.
I huge thank you goes out to each and every one of my guys -this was an incredible project for all of us to be a part of. I am very proud of the end result and have you guys to thank for not only putting my ideas into motion but sharing your input and your talents. We at BBW are a lot like the Marines, we are a great team and no matter what is thrown at us, we succeed. Thank you Moots, Brent, Shoe, Evan, Bill, John, Michael, Chad, Gordon, Glen, Ben, Wilkes, Dave, Jason, Lee, Chuck, Jorge, Salvadore and Felipe. Mission Accomplished!
Research and Development
With the decision made to build the U.S. Marine Corps tribute bike and the commitment of the sponsors in place, I was now faced with the tough decision of what to build to truly honor what these great men and women represent and to pay tribute to them in a way they won't forget. Without the service and sacrifice of these selfless warriors and that of their families at home, we would not enjoy the freedoms we are blessed with and life as we know it would not exist. My team and I would certainly not be able to do what we do.
I needed to build something to go with the vintage drive train but that has never really been my style so this would present a nice challenge. I wanted to tie in the U.S. Marine Corps with the Rolling Thunder XXV event which honors all veterans but is centered around the Vietnam Memorial Wall. It had to convey respect and honor to the U.S. Marine Corps and be a show piece for all the world to see. I had some serious research to do not only on 1960's era choppers but on the U.S. Marine Corps itself. After much research, I knew what I wanted to do and presented the idea to Jay to get his approval and then we went for it!
Bourget's has built many a theme bike over the last 19 years and we do it well. This tribute bike had to be different and special and to pull it off I had to get inside the head of a Marine. On behalf of my fabulous BBW crew and myself, Brigitte Bourget, we present to you our version of a Vietnam Vet - US Marine's hand built/homemade Panhead Chopper - the Bourget's Rolling Thunder XXV U.S. Marine Corps Tribute Bike.
The Story Behind the Bike
By Brigitte Bee May, 2012
I am a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps. I am my father's legacy and my mother's baby boy. I am a Red Blooded American, a "Biker" and am the proud of owner of a Panhead Chopper that I customized myself. Now this
Chopper, she's not real shiny or very fancy but she's paid for, sounds good, runs good, gets me where I want to go and if I said chicks didn't dig her, I'd be lying.
It's 1962 and I have just received orders and am being deployed to Vietnam. You might think I'm scared and feel sorry for me. Did you hear me say I am a Marine? This is what I live for, this is what I signed on for and I will go there guns blazing, kicking ass and taking names. I get my affairs in order, say what I hope is not my last goodbye to my Mom and Dad, and store my beloved Chopper in the barn on the family farm. I am off to do my duty to my God and Country, to fight for the freedoms of the citizens of the United States of America. My fellow Marines and I will pray daily for our safety, knowing that ultimately our lives are in God's hands now.
I see things and do things while in the hell on earth they call Vietnam that you could not imagine in your worst nightmare. I am alive but many of my brothers that came here with me have been sent home in a flag draped pine box, 58,220 of them to be exact. I get word that I am going home, my tour of duty is done and while I may be alive a part of my soul has died. I am not the same person. My injuries may not be visible to you because I am a Marine, I show no weakness and I wear my scars on the inside. People like you will never understand that the casualties of war don't always come home dead.
I finally set foot on U.S. soil again, a changed, hardened man. Society keeps their distance from me because they do not understand me and though I am not the enemy, they fear me. The very people I sacrificed everything for disrespect me and blame me for doing my job because they enjoy their freedom of speech. There is no welcome parade, no show of respect, this doesn't feel like home anymore. I feel out of place, like I don't fit in here and I'm uncomfortable in my own skin. The stress of combat follows me still, the fighting plays over and over again in my mind like a movie that never ends. I can not decompress. I spent years fighting for freedom and I feel trapped like a caged animal. I have to do something, I have to get out of here, put some distance between me and my demons.
My neglected Chopper and I have been apart far too long. She is the only way out of my own head and the only woman who needs nothing from me, especially not tenderness or emotion. I drag her out of the barn, replace her dry-rotted tires, dead battery and drain out the old smelly gas that's turned to turpentine. She's good as new and ready to roll and we hit the road as one, with no particular destination in mind.
I ride hard, fast and free. I follow the road where it leads, picking up a souvenir, a burger & a beer, and if I'm in the mood a girl for the night, but never for the road. I don't know where I'm going to end up or when I'm going to get there and that is the freedom I've longed for, that is what has been missing. This is finally what it feels like to be free. No restrictions, no constraints, no bombs, no blood, no death and no battles. This is the feeling I fought for, the freedom I was willing to sacrifice life and limb for you and your families and your friends to enjoy. How do you not understand? How can you disrespect and dishonor me when you take for granted that you sleep in a warm bed in a safe house after a fine meal? How can you be so stupid? How can you be so heartless?
The more miles I put behind me, the better I feel. I am becoming less caged animal and more human being. I am riding the demons out, clearing my head, finding myself again, all behind the bars of my beloved Chopper. This machine is saving my life one mile at a time. I am realizing as I put the pieces of my soul back into place and start to relax in my own skin again that there are some people out there who show me honor and respect. Men who give me a solemn salute and women and children who smile and wave as I make my way down the main streets of small town America. Citizens of this great land who are willing to shake my hand, thank me for my service and say God Bless.
As I make my way across this great country and the demons inside me slowly die, I realize there are those that care, who are not stupid in the ways of war, and those who will never truly know but can dare to imagine themselves in the battles I fought in Vietnam. No one but a fellow serviceman can understand the war I fight inside myself and am trying hard to win, but I realize that is what sets us soldiers apart. There are those fellow Americans who appreciate the sacrifice my fellow soldiers and I and made for you and your families. There are those including myself who will always show gratitude for those who served who've passed before me and those that will follow in my footsteps. They are the American People who understand that behind the harsh exterior, the rough personality, the tattoos, and the scars that I am One of the Few, The Proud, The Marines.
The Bourget's U.S. Marine Corps tribute bike was built by those who are honored by and grateful for the service and sacrifice of all of our U.S. Soldiers and their families, past, present and future. With the pledge to always show the utmost respect and the promise of undying dignity to our servicemen and women, it is my great honor to have been a part of the Rolling Thunder XXV Military Bike Tribute Project.
U.S. MARINE CORPS COMMEMORATIVE FEATURES:
U.S. MARINE CORPS OFFICIAL COLORS OF SCARLET AND GOLD ARE FEATURED PROMINENTLY THROUGHOUT THE BIKE.
THE OFFICIAL U.S. MARINE CORPS LOGO FEATURING THE EAGLE, GLOBE AND ANCHOR IS FEATURED ON THE BELT GUARD.
THE U.S. MARINE CORPS WAS FOUNDED ON NOVEMBER 10, 1775 IN PHILADELPHIA, PA. 194 YEARS LATER BRIGITTE BEE WAS BORN ON NOV 10TH.
THE OFFICIAL U.S. MARINE CORPS MOTTO SEMPER FIDELIS OR "SEMPER FI" FOR SHORT, MEANING "ALWAYS LOYAL" OR "ALWAYS FAITHFUL".
THE U.S. MARINE VIETNAM VETERAN AND POW-MIA PATCHES ARE SIGNIFICANT TO THE ROLLING THUNDER TRIBUTE AND RIDE TO THE VIETNAM MEMORIAL WALL AND OF THE MISSION OF THE ROLLING THUNDER ORGANIZATION.
THE U.S. MARINE CORPS CORPORAL PATCH FEATURED ON THE TANK IS IN HONOR OF BYRON HALL ENDED HIS TERM OF ENLISTMENT WITH THE CORPS AS A CORPORAL.
THE GADSDEN FLAG HAD TO BE INCORPORATED INTO OUR TRIBUTE BIKE. THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL FLAG WITH YELLOW FIELD DEPICTING A RATTLESNAKE COILED AND READY TO STRIKE WAS DESIGNED BY AND NAMED AFTER AMERICAL GENERAL CHRISTOPHER GADSDEN. THE GADSDEN FLAG IS THE FIRST FLAG EVER CARRIED INTO BATTLE BY THE U.S. MARINE CORPS DURING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.
THE OFFICIAL MASCOT -THE ENGLISH BULLDOG IS FEATURED AS WELL. IN WWI THE GERMANS NICKNAMED THE U.S. MARINES "TEUFEL HUNDEN" MEANING DEVIL DOGS.
CHASSIS: 2012 BOURGET'S BOBBER CHASSIS
ENGINE: S&S FLATHEAD POWER PANHEAD (1956-1964)
TRANSMISSION: BAKER 6 SPEED KICKER "FRANKENTRANNY"
CLUTCH: RIVERA/PRIMO BRUTE III CLUTCH BBW CONVERSION TO OPEN BELT STYLE
FRONT END: BBW WIDE GLIDE FRONT END
WHEELS: BBW "INVADER" STYLE WITH MATCHING ROTORS AND CHAIN SPROCKET
FRONT: 21X3.50 WHEEL W/AVON 120-70-21 TIRE
REAR: 17X5.50 REAR W/DUNLOP 200-55-ZR17 TIRE
EXHAUST: BBW PANHEAD 2/1 WITH FISHTAIL END CAP
SHEET METAL: BBW BOBBER STYLE GAS TANK DENTS WERE ADDED TO THE TANK FOR AUTHENTICITY BBW FLAT STYLE REAR FENDER W/SISSY BAR
CONTROLS: BBW FLOORBOARD FWD CONTROLS MISC. BBW BILLET TRIPS TREES, GRIPS, AXLE COVERS, ETC.
SEAT: BBW VINTAGE DISTRESSED LEATHER TO MATCH LEATHER SADDLE BAGS
PAINT: U.S. MARINE CORPS TRIBUTE THEME DONE BY SINTHIUM KUSTOM PAINT, INC.
SPECIAL NOTES: WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE CHROME HANDLEBARS AND SISSY BAR, ALL OF THE REMAINING COMPONENTS WERE HAND FINISHED TO MATCH THE NATURAL CAST FINISH OF THE S&S ENGINE AND THE BAKER TRANSMISSION