• Ride Report, Walter Reed

Photo by Julia "Butterfingers" Stein

On Sunday, May 16, Warriors’ Watch Riders set out for the first annual Ride to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.  Several rally points had been set beginning in Philadelphia and ending at the Chesapeake House Rest Stop in Maryland, along I-95. The photograph above shows this procession just after it left the Chesapeake House. By the time we left this point our procession had reached 120 motorcycles and 12 other vehicles. There is no other traffic around us in that photo because the Maryland State Troopers had just shut down I-95 southbound so that our very long procession could enter the highway safely and as one unit.

Photo by Julia "Butterfingers" Stein

With us on this ride were two bike-builders from “Bikes Built Better” in Horsham, Pa. Also with us were three amputee motorcycle riders – Beth from Reading on her trike, Mickey, of the POW/MIA Motorcycle Club, and Psycho, of the NorthEast PA Warriors’ Watch.

This was the first mission of the newly created “Wounded Warrior Riders Project.” The purpose of the Project, and this ride, is to hold out the possibility, to those who are interested, for the most severly wounded of the current wars to one day ride their motorcycles again. The bike builders were there to explain to the troops how their bikes might be modified to suit various disabilities, and the amputee riders were there to show that it can be done, to motivate, and to share their own experiences, ups and downs, and dreams.

Photo by Julia "Butterfingers" Stein

It was a beautiful day, just warm enough and sunny. We mingled with the wounded warriors who came out to see us, showed off our bikes, had a great catered BBQ lunch. During the lunch we had ample time to get to know the young men in their wheelchairs or on their high-tech metal legs, and it was an experience that did not fail to move everyone in attendance.

These wounded warriors are the in-betweens, they did not die in war (thank God,) but neither did they come “home,” they came instead to a hospital to face years of surgeries and rehabilitation. It is easy and reasonable to expect them to begin to sink into depression, and it is our goal to try to help prevent that in at least a few soldiers.


Photo by Julia "Butterfingers" Stein

We met a Marine Corps MSG who had lost both legs, who already owns a motorcycle. Our Bike-Builders have offered to modify his bike with the necessary equipment to allow him to ride again – everything from electronic hand controls to a “landing gear” that deploys when the bike slows to 5mph to keep the bike upright without relying on the feet.

Photo by Julia "Butterfingers" Stein

All we need now is someone to donate the parts for this conversion. We have created a website for the Wounded Warrior Riders Project, at http://www.wwrproject.org. Very soon we will have instructions there for making donations to that bike and for future rids and motorcycle building.

Until then, God Bless the wounded warriors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and around the world. These are the young heros who have sacrificed their flesh, blood, and bone, all because they raised a hand and swore to “protect and defend” us. We owe them more than we could ever possibly repay.

Photo by Julia "Butterfingers" Stein

A final note: On the long ride home, we pulled into the Maryland House Rest Stop and came upon a busload of soldiers on their war to Fort Dix for training prior to a later deployment to Afghanistan. Of course we couln’t help but mug them, and as we greated and cajoled and took pictures, I said a silent prayer that all of them would come home again, alive, and on two legs.


(Photos: The first photo above shows the procession after leaving the Chesapeake House. Only half of it is visible here.)

The second photo is the group waiting to leave the rest stop.

The third photo is the BBQ Area at the Mologne House at Walter Reed Army Metical Center.

The fourth photo is Army Major Ed Kennedy and his wife at Rock Creek Park.

The fifth photo is Major Kennedy and a local soldier.

The sixth photo is of the group of soldiers we met on the return trip.