Motorcyclists salute troop sacrifices with ride

Elka Wyatt and Elka Wyatt

Harleys, Hondas and heroes. All were gathered Sept. 11 for the second annual Support Our Troops ride from Bikersfield Leather and Accessories on Fairhaven Drive to Chuy’s on Rosedale Highway.
The reason? To support troops.
“I want the same freedoms for my children and grandchildren that I had,” said Sgt. Tonna Mullens.
Sept. 12 marked her 20th anniversary serving in the military. She came back from Iraq last year. “It was a good tour; I have no regrets.”
When asked why she joined the service five years ago, Spc. LeeAnna Tameny said, “My father was in the military, and I felt it was my calling. I’m just a patriotic person.”
Tameny served in Kuwait.
Many of the motorcycles at the Support Our Troops ride had American flags attached.
Master Sgt. Dave Arnold, who started his career with the military 23 years ago, helped Bill Pritchard, the father of one of his soldiers, organize this event last year as a small 9/11 memorial.
On the first run, only 70 riders were expected. To their surprise, over 400 cars and motorcycles showed up.
“Last year, the ride started at South High School and ended at North High School heading straight up Chester Avenue. This year, because of last year’s unexpectedly large crowd, more organization was needed,” said Arnold.
When asked how many showed up on Thursday evening, Arnold remarked, “We stopped counting at 680.”
The band, Really Big Midgets, played a variety of music, keeping the crowd entertained.
Soldiers showed several military vehicles, including a Palletized Loading System (PLS), to interested people, and some bikers walked around the parking lot admiring other bikes.
One bike that really stood out was an Ural, which is a Russian military bike, owned by Jim and Bonnie Padgett of Bakersfield. It was painted camouflage with a sidecar. On the back were two flags. One flag bore the American flag, and another flag bore the words:
“All gave some. Some gave all.” There were red, white and blue barrels for donated supplies to be shipped to soldiers.
“We asked soldiers what the PX would run out of the fastest, and they told us things like baby wipes, batteries and magazines. We had to take out the Playboys and Easy Rider magazines because they are not allowed to have them, but we did get a pretty good inventory,” said Arnold, and he laughed.
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