Fresh on the heels of the latest Bikes Over Baghdad tour to Iraq and Kuwait last December, Harley-Davidson Motor Company announced its continued support for the young, passionate BMX stunt team that has been sweeping U.S. military bases overseas with its high-adrenaline, high-action stunt shows.
Bikes Over Baghdad, an American team made up of some of the world’s best BMX athletes, announcers and ramp builders, will travel to Qatar near Saudi Arabia March 8-13 to perform at Al Udeid Air Force Base, with support from Harley-Davidson. In addition to the Qatar tour, Harley-Davidson and Bikes Over Baghdad announced they are in the planning stages for the next major tour to Iraq and Kuwait timed for later this year.
“The next Bikes Over Baghdad tour planned for Iraq and Kuwait will be bigger than ever and will include more ways for folks back home to get involved,” said Christian Schauf, creator of Bikes Over Baghdad and program manager. “Details are still coming together, but in the meantime, we’re thrilled to be able to send the team to Qatar this month to perform for more of America’s finest.”
Last December was the third trip for the Bikes Over Baghdad team, but was the first time the Motor Company got involved. To reinforce its support for the troops and its long-standing commitment to the U.S. Military, Harley-Davidson sent one of its own to experience the positive impact of the BMX performances on troop morale.
“I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join the Bikes Over Baghdad team on a 10-day tour to Iraq and Kuwait, and it was a moving and mind-blowing experience,” said Mike McCann, marketing director at Harley-Davidson. “Seeing their smiles and feeling the gratitude of these troops made me proud to help continue the Harley-Davidson tradition of supporting those serving our country in the military.”
Photos from the tour last December can be found on Harley-Davidson’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/#!/album.php?aid=253159&id=20060875764.
Word about Bikes Over Baghdad has spread like wildfire throughout the military bases in the Middle East, and demand for the shows is at an all-time high. In fact, the team has already received requests for additional tours at bases in the U.S. and other locations around the world.
Each time the Bikes Over Baghdad team – made up of Chad Kagy, Brian Kachinsky, Mike Escamilla, Anthony Napolitan, Drew Bezanson, Zack Yankush, Mykel Larrin, Ron Kimler and Nate Wessel – travels overseas to perform stunt shows for the troops, they leave behind their daily lives and families, their professional BMX careers, and the comforts of home, all to show their deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for our service men and women.
“Having been over to Iraq three times now, we all feel even more excited and honored to be able to do what we do with Bikes Over Baghdad,” said Kachinsky. “Every time we go, we come back having met thousands of amazing men and women, having had these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and feeling completely changed and humbled by the entire experience.”
The athletes will perform two shows for several thousand U.S. military and coalition forces stationed at Al Udeid Air Force Base. In addition to the shows, giveaways and autographed posters, the Harley-Davidson sponsored tour features a high level of interaction with the troops. Ramp builders invite soldiers to help them build and the riders spend their days visiting the troops where they work and live, giving thousands of service men and women one-on-one time with the athletes not seen in other tours.
Harley-Davidson and the Military
Harley-Davidson’s relationship with 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 U.S. military personnel through programs like the Harley’s Heroes Tour. In 2007, the Harley-Davidson Foundation made its first $1 million grant to Disabled American Veterans (DAV) to support the Mobile Service Office program Harley’s Heroes Tour. In 2010, the Foundation announced a second $1 million grant, continuing its support of the 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 has included the sending of electronic postcards by Americans to active and retired military, limited edition poster giveaways at area dealerships and postcards featuring supermodel and Harley rider Marisa Miller, activities at the Harley-Davidson Museum and the chance for active and retired military personnel to win Harley-Davidson branded merchandise.