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Veterans and Harley-Davidson: Attached at the hip for 100 years

hd4 Veterans and Harley Davidson: Attached at the hip for 100 years

Army Cpl. Ray Holtz rides a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to become the first American to enter Germany after the German surrender in World War 1. (Photo courtesy Harley-Davidson Motor Company Archives)

By Eric Dehm

World War I was many things: It was the birth of modern warfare. It was when the United States burst onto the stage to announce itself as a world power.

It also marked the birth of a relationship that continues to this day between the U.S. military and Harley-Davidson Motor Company (H-D).

“The first formal order for a military application of motorcycles was during World War I in 1916,” says Anoop Prakash, a Marine Corps veteran and director of U.S. marketing for H-D.

“General John ‘Black Jack’ Pershing was convinced that using new technology like motorcycles would provide great agility and ease of use and durability in wartime. So we have had a long history since that time in serving the military… It’s been a continuous link in our history.”

hd1 Veterans and Harley Davidson: Attached at the hip for 100 years

Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter riding on the back of a Harley-Davidson. (Photo courtesy US Marine Corps)

The link continues today under the “Operation: Personal Freedom” program. When service members are deployed, H-D will store bikes for free, and those days in storage during deployment don’t count against the bike’s warranty.

“We really believe there’s a great sacrifice that our service members make to support all of our freedom enjoying the sport of motorcycling,” Prakash says. “We want to return that favor.”

H-D also wants to help ensure military motorcycle riders stay safe on the roads, so they subsidize the H-D Rider Academy’s New Rider Course so all veterans — active military and first responders — pay $99 for the course.

hd2 Veterans and Harley Davidson: Attached at the hip for 100 years

The New River Harley Davidson shop teaches Marines how to properly operate a motorcycle during the II Marine Expeditionary Force Safety Expo at Marston Pavillion, Camp Lejeune, N.C., Sept. 27, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ashley Lawson/Released)

Harley-Davidson is a proud sponsorship partner of ConnectingVets.com.

Connect: @EricDehm | Eric@ConnectingVets.com

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