European Spotlight: Bruce Hills, rider with the Wiesbaden H.O.G. chapter
What is the chapter and others like it all about?
Harley-Davidson Inc. founded H.O.G. in 1983. It is the fastest growing motorcycle club in the world with more than 800,000 members, and more than 50,000 in Europe. Its basic principle is to bring people (drivers, riders, and dealers) together who have Harleys as a common interest.
Members of your chapter — predominantly Germans plus some Americans — plan to ride their Harleys to Wiesbaden Army Airfield on Monday in memory to the victims of Sept. 11, 2001. Tell us about the ride.
After the events of 9/11, many members of the Wiesbaden Nassau Chapter wanted to do something to pay respect to the memories of those who perished. They organized a ride to the airfield, which is one of the military organizations in the area, and left flowers and candles like many other Germans did those weeks following the attacks. One of the U.S. Army members of the club arranged for them to enter the base to visit the POW/MIA monument there in Memorial Park. Since then, it has become an annual ride.
What is it that participants hope to achieve? Heightened awareness?
I think awareness is fairly heightened everywhere today. The main goal of the ride is to continue to show support for the American people. [German members] know we felt a great pain when we were attacked. They know we feel great pain remembering those who have made the sacrifice and those who have still not returned from previous wars. They feel that sadness and want to show that they will also “never forget.”
I take it the Army is cool with it?
I have received nothing but positive support from the public affairs office and security personnel at the airfield. I have also invited some of their local soldiers who own bikes to ride with us.
Where were you during the terrorists’ attacks five years ago?
I was returning from an appointment at Ramstein Air Base. My office called my cell about the first plane. By the time I reached my office in Mannheim the second aircraft had been crashed into the World Trade Center. And it was becoming clear these were not accidents.
You are a retired Army master sergeant. Were you on active duty on 9/11? If not, did you think about getting back in?
I was already retired for 11 years when the attacks occurred, but like many, yes I would have been willing if I had been recalled to active duty.
What did you do in the military and how long did you serve?
My primary skills were in Automation and Data Processing. I spent 20 years on active duty, retiring here in Darmstadt.
How long have you owned a Harley and what model do you ride?
I’ve been riding motorcycles since 1973, but didn’t buy my first “real” one until 1992, then I upgraded from a 1200 Sportster to my Heritage Softtail Classic in 1994.
For more information on the Wiesbaden H.O.G. and other local chapters, see www.wiesbaden-nassau-chapter.de/intro.html.
Military service: retired Army master sergeant
Civilian job: Owner, Eagle Eye Security
Off the clock: Member of the Wiesbaden-Nassau Chapter of the Harley Owners Group.
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