Following two successful tours in 2009, some of the biggest names in action sports are preparing to visit Iraq for Bikes Over Baghdad 3 (BOB3), presented by Harley-Davidson Motor Company, November 28 through December 9.
For the nearly 50,000 U.S. military men and women who are stationed in Iraq, a performance at their base by the action sports athletes who make up the BOB3 tour means a few hours of escape, excitement, and camaraderie with guys from back home. For the athletes who make up the tour – Chad Kagy, Brian Kachinsky, Mike Escamilla, Anthony Napolitan, Drew Bezanson, Zack Yankush, Mykel Larrin, Ron Kimler and Nate Wessel – BOB3 means putting their lives on hold and at risk to travel to a war zone to share their passions, talents, and most of all, gratitude.
Many of the BOB3 team members literally grew up in the shadow of 9/11 and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I was only 15 or 16 years old when the war in Iraq started,” said Anthony Napolitan. “This is my first time as a BOB team member, and I feel unbelievably grateful to have the opportunity to thank our troops in this amazing and personal way.”
Deepening its long-standing relationship with the U.S. military, Harley-Davidson has signed on to sponsor the tour and is sending one of its own along for the ride. Mike McCann, Director of Core Customer Marketing for Harley-Davidson, will join the Bikes Over Baghdad team as they travel to Iraq and Kuwait to put on stunt shows at seven military bases, performing for an estimated 20,000 U.S. soldiers.
“Harley-Davidson shares with our troops a deep sense of patriotism and the spirit of freedom,” said McCann. “We’re honored and excited to be a part of this tour. It’s a life-changing experience for the team, but more importantly, it’s one way we can give something back to the troops for all their dedication, sacrifice, and hard work.”
Harley-Davidson will provide the troops with H-D MotorClothes, as well as other merchandise and gifts, and one service member will win a brand new 2011 Harley-Davidson XR1200X motorcycle.
A Life-Changing Experience X Games bronze medalist Brian Kachinsky took part in the first two BOB tours and calls the experience “exhilarating, intense, and life-changing.” He’ll never forget the extreme temperatures in which the guys traveled and performed. He described the 120-degree heat of the Iraqi desert “like being surrounded by hairdryers in a sauna.”
Highlights of the last trip included flying in a Blackhawk helicopter, sleeping in Saddam Hussein’s palace, detonating C4 explosives, and just experiencing what daily life is like for the troops in Iraq. But it was time simply spent hanging out with the troops that really made an impact on the BOB team members.
“What I remember most is sitting on the bike ramp for hours after the show, talking about homes and families and experiences in Iraq,” said Kachinsky. “Service people told us we were heroes to them and I was blown away, because they’re the real heroes.”
According to one service member who caught an earlier tour and has been keeping up with the guys on Facebook: “When they came here, it was clear that they put their heart and soul into it – that’s what made their show so amazing.” Another simply said, “Thanks for not forgetting about us.”
Harley-Davidson and the Military Harley-Davidson’s commitment to the U.S. military dates back almost 100 years. After use in the Mexican Expedition, the U.S. military commissioned nearly one-third of all Harley-Davidson motorcycles produced in 1917 to support efforts during World War I, and nearly half of the Motor Company’s production in 1918. At war’s end, it’s estimated that the Army used as many as 20,000 motorcycles.
During World War II, the Motor Company provided nearly 90,000 WLA models for military use. In 1943, Harley-Davidson received the first of its four coveted Army-Navy “E” Awards for excellence in wartime production.
Today Harley-Davidson continues to support active and retired U.S. military personnel through the Harley’s HeroesTM Tour. Harley’s Heroes was made possible by a $1 million pledge from the Harley-Davidson Foundation to Disabled American Veterans to support its Mobile Service Office program, which provides counseling and assistance to help veterans and their families secure the benefits they earned through their service.
Each November, Harley-Davidson celebrates Military Appreciation Month, which includes the sending of electronic postcards by Americans to active and retired military, giveaways at area dealerships of limited edition posters and postcards featuring supermodel and Harley rider Marisa Miller, and the chance for active and retired military personnel to win the coveted Harley-Davidson “Freedom Pass.” Learn more at www.harley-davidson.com/thankyou.
About Harley-Davidson Harley-Davidson Motor Company, the only major U.S.-based motorcycle manufacturer, produces heavyweight motorcycles and a complete line of motorcycle parts, accessories and general merchandise. For more information, visit Harley-Davidson’s Web site at www.harley-davidson.com.