A motorcycle can mean a lot more than simply a two-wheeled form of transportation. Often they are held in such high esteem they’re treated like a member of the family. Why else would we name our motorcycles? Wrenching on bikes can also have its own therapeutic qualities. A group of Marines serving in Afghanistan were looking for a constructive outlet and sought a momentary reprieve from the demands of living and working in a war zone. An old, rust-ridden motorcycle was just what the doctor ordered. We salute our men and women who put it all on the line so we can continue to enjoy certain liberties, the privilege to own a motorcycle and the freedom to ride it whenever we damn well please among them. Hope you enjoy this story from the Personal Security Detachment. We did. -ed
The bike, after it was first purchased, had a lot of work to be done. Rust, body work, and engine problems hindered the project at first. The Marines took it as a challenge and set forth on a six-week project to get the bike working again and in proper Marine style. - Courtesy of DVIDS
FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELARAM II, Nimroz province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan - Several members of the Personal Security Detachment, Regimental Combat Team 8, needed a break from the dirt, wind and grit provided by the Afghan desert. A rusty, broken-down motorcycle turned out to be just what they needed.
Sergeant Jeffrey McCarty, the platoon commander for the Personal Security Detachment, Regimental Combat Team 8, thought the project would give his Marines a project between missions securing and escorting regimental personnel moving across the area of operation.
The bike they found is a Ghazvani, year unknown, in a town along the route between Forward Operating Base Delaram II and Camp Leatherneck called Karwangah.
“After we bought the bike, we were offered another for $200,” said McCarty. “We didn’t have that much. Most of the Marines, to include two corpsmen, pitched in money for the purchase.”
“We had a bike frame with tires and a partially put together engine,” added McCarty. “We purchased another bike for parts for $400 about a week later.”
Eight Marines from the unit slaved over the Chinese-built motorcycle to give it a new breath of life over a period of six weeks between patrols and escorting duty. Corporals Jack McRae and Jared Beard took charge of rebuilding the engine and carburetor. Lance Cpl. Michael Kacmar sanded the body and completed the wiring. Petty Officer 2nd Class, Marc Petrino and Cpl. Lacy Gay replaced the tires and brake pads and Cpl. Matthew Morgan replaced the kick-start lever and changed the pipe.
Marines from the Personal Security Detachment, Regimental Combat Team 8, pose with their renovated motorcycle following its overhaul. The team of Marines completed the project in six weeks using time between their missions of securing personnel as they travel throughout southern Afghanistan. - Courtesy of DVIDS
Motorcycles can be a great source of pride. Just ask the PSD crew serving in Afghanistan who turned this rusty Ghazvani into a cool cruiser.
“Having a project like this bike to work on during deployment brought morale to the platoon,” said Petrino, a medical corpsman for PSD. “Being able to hear the compliments during the final viewing gave us a sense of accomplishment.”
The complete bike makeover included rebuilding the 125cc Honda engine and carburetor. The engine, frame, tank and rims were all sanded smooth. The rims were painted flat black with the spokes left chrome.
“My brother bought materials and mailed them to us,” said McCarty. “He knew we were passionate about this project so he sent everything we would need to clean it up; high-temp paints for the engine, sand paper, gloss coats paint, ceramic heat shield wrap, masking tape and paint brushes.”
Once all the work to break down the motorbike was finished, the test began on how to put it back together and give it a touch of Marine style.
“The idea for the motorcycle was inspired by World War II-era bikes as well as the Harley-Davidson Nightster,” said McCarty.
The engine was completely painted with high-temperature semi-gloss black paint, then hand sanded for a brushed silver look. The frame and fuel tank were painted olive drab. Masking tape was placed over the tank and all designs were hand drawn onto the tape and then cut with a knife. The tank was then completed with six clear coats. The handlebar grips and seat back were hand-wrapped with green 550 cord while the exhaust pipe had approximately one foot cut from it and the rest was covered in heat shield wrap.
“Since being cut, the bike has a roar when revved up that people from far away or inside buildings can hear,” said McCarty.
“The guys used to joke like we were on a TV show saying things like we have a deadline for the bike unveiling,” said McCarty. “Really it just became a passion project for us to have while deployed.”
Now the bike is finished, McCarty and his crew are beginning to think of a new project.
“We want to get another bike and this time do a desert tan color scheme to go along with our green one,” added McCarty.
The Personal Security Detachment is a unit of Marines from the infantry, communications, and motor transportation Military Occupational Specialties which conduct patrols on foot and in vehicles such as MRAPs and MATVS. Their main mission it to protect and transport the commanding officer of Regimental Combat Team 8 but they really end up doing much more. They see more of our area of Northern Helmand province than most because they play a sort of “combat taxi” delivering people and supplies to Sangin, Musa Qal’eh, Upper Gereshk Valley and more.