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Monday, May 27, 2013

2013 Rolling Thunder Part IV of IV-- USMC Staff Sergeant Tim Chambers, "The Saluting Marine"

Since spontaneously standing at attention and saluting bikes during the 2002 Rolling Thunder rally, USMC Staff Sergeant  (now retired) Tim Chambers has returned each year to pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of  bikers who are, in turn, paying tribute to the nations fallen soldiers. 

Before the arrival of the bikes, civilians would approach Sgt. Chambers to thank him for his service or pass a few words of encouragement for what he does each year. 
Waiting for the bikes. 

An old vet thanks Sgt. Chambers.

Once, during an interview, when asked "Why the salute?" He replied "It's about the pain. A lot of these heroic guys still hurt and if I can relieve their pain for just one brief moment, then I've done my job."

Many bikers returned the salute.  I have each year I've ridden and each time it gives me chills.

I didn't realize the significance of this and the next two photos until later.  In this one, the father, a Vet himself, returns Sgt. Chambers salute...
As he lowers his salute, something great happens, his young son on the back of the bike, begins his own salute.
In completing his salute, he is honoring not only Sgt. Chambers, but his father and all who have served in one action!

As Sgt. Chambers held his salute to the passing bikes, a small group approached from his right.  They raised their hands and returned his salute.....
Then as they stood at attention, saluting an American Hero, a bugle player began a haunting rendition of Taps....
More on Staff Sgt. Tim Chambers, "The Saluting Marine" can be found here:

2013 Rolling Thunder Part III of IV-- The Pentagon 9-11 Memorial

No visit to the Pentagon is complete without a stop at the 9-11 Memorial.

A biker reads the names of those who lost their lives in the attack. 
Benches representing the lives lost with the US Air Force Memorial in the background.  The old barracks in the photo are being torn down to make room for the expansion of Arlington National Cemetery. Sadly, they've run out of room....
When The Pentagon was rebuilt, this original, blackened stone was used as a reminder.  If you enlarge the photo, you can see September 11, 2001, engraved on it. 
The lighter colored stones in the middle are what was replaced.  I thought the plane flying over was an eerie contrast. 

A tour guide explains what they will soon be experiencing.

There is A LOT of hatred for Jane Fonda among bikers.  I can't recall ever seeing another person's name worn in this manner on patches.   If you don't know why, do some research and see where you stand on the subject...
A biker at the Pentagon memorial sign.

2013 Rolling Thunder Part II of IV-- The Bikers

Bikers come in all shapes, sizes, colors, skill levels, convictions, and abilities.  This old vet was playing Amazing Grace in the Pentagon parking lot when I stopped to get a pic.  I didn't even notice at first that he was perfectly lined up to get the flag and the Washington Monument in the background. 
Waiting to park.  There are typically about 500,000 bikes riding in Rolling Thunder

A lot of HOG Chapters rode from various locations with police escorts.
One of our favorite charities...
Even though the Rally started at noon, with so many riders, it was several hours before some started to ride.  We were in the first of four or five parking lots, and it still took two hours of bikes leaving before we moved.  Several people took advantage of the wait by catching up on their sleep!!
This Marine had been retired for over 20 years and still wore his uniform for the ride! 

Waiting to ride...
The rows went one at a time.  From start to finish, it took 2 to 3 minutes just for one row of bikes to depart.  With hundreds of rows of bikes just in our lot alone, you can see why it takes so long to get moving.

The LONG wait!!!

Every biker organization you can think of is represented.

2013 Rolling Thunder Part I of IV-- The Run

The Rolling Thunder First Amendment Demonstration Run is an annual ride and gathering that first started in 1988. Riders from around the nation, and even around the world rally in the Pentagon parking lots and begin the run through the streets of Washington, D.C. Afterward, it is an opportunity to meet old and new friends, pay respect at the memorials and participate in the Memorial Day events. (From the Rolling Thunder site

This was our fourth year riding and one thing that hasn't changed is the amazing feeling of being part of something so big and so important.  It's an awesome and humbling feeling to be able to ride with hundreds of thousands of bikers to show support for those killed or missing in action-- and all Military Members as well! 

I'll be putting pics up in a series of four blogs to keep them from running too long.  I hope you enjoy them and they pay just a little tribute to those who have given their lives for our country... 

There is no shortage of American Flags at Rolling Thunder and I have a tendency to try to photograph them all !!!!

This is on the back of a semi!
And this is on the side.....
On the back of another rig.

A helicopter flies over the US Air Force Memorial. 

The previous two photos are the same bike.  There are a lot of bikes out there decorated  in support of  the Military and fallen comrades. 
This truck is decorated in support of LCPL Phillip D. Vanedge who was killed in action on October 13, 2010.  That's his mom you see on the door standing next to his toombstone. 

Military Nurses Memorial.
After we rode, we parked and watched bikes for awhile.  It was awesome to get to take the ride in as a spectator also.  Later, I got this shot on Constitution.  We didn't know it until but this was the last biker. 

Our bikes the morning of the ride.  They usually get their once a year bath just for Rolling Thunder!
Ready to ride!
The Vietnam Wall.
Soldiers Memorial next to The Wall.