MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – -- Bikers decked out in leather vests with patches and insignias denoting their time in the armed forces mounted shining motorcycles and roared away, beginning a quest through the Onslow County’s past.
The bikers were at a local motorcycle shop for the Historical Markers Ride, an annual motorcycle scavenger hunt, held by North Carolina Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association.
The ride brought together the thrill of the hunt with the company of the local community, including many servicemembers and veterans.
“We wanted to put together a ride different from other rides,” said H. T. Huchi, the commander of the local CVMA and a retired Marine, better known as Hooch.
Events like this enhance the camaraderie felt by veterans, active-duty servicemembers and the community while helping to support causes for servicemembers, added Hooch.
Riders were given a questionnaire to complete throughout their journey.
With questions like “What is the name of the town where the first steamboat was built in N.C.?” and “What was the name Montford Point changed to in 1974?” the scavenger hunt had riders look at historical markers positioned alongside of roads throughout Jacksonville.
However, participants wouldn’t win by simply searching for the information online or remembering the correct answer, a CVMA representative’s were present with a stamp to show the riders visited each site.
Members who brought back the questionnaire stamped with all of the correct answers were entered into a drawing for prizes.
After the small groups of riders journeyed through the area, they were met with a feast. The bikers were in hog heaven with burgers, hot dogs and other barbecue staples along with a roasted pig.
The event also held auctions and raffles for various prizes donated by local businesses.
“We ride our Harleys, we have fun and we help veterans,” said Hooch.
The revenue generated from the Historical Markers Ride is used to support work the CVMA does throughout the year, including cookouts at Wounded Warrior Battalion aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Operation Devildog, in which the CVMA gives packages to approximately 10 wounded warriors with gift certificates to local businesses and other treats.
The CVMA is made up primarily of combat veterans who enjoy the opportunity to support today’s servicemembers.
“I know what these guys are going through,” said Hooch. “We have guys from Vietnam, Desert Storm. (Members of) the CVMA have been around. We have the experience. When we (visit WWBn) we sit there and talk to them, share stories.”
Pete Frede, a retired sailor and five-year member of the CVMA likens the group to therapy, saying veterans are more comfortable around each other.
“When you’ve been in combat it’s a different brotherhood,” said Jim Beck, a retired soldier, and the Raleigh CVMA commander. “We’re combat vets, and we support our brothers and sisters.”
Events like this are a culmination of Hooch’s goals. Upon retirement he decided to stay connected to Marines, and now, despite his long beard and hair to make hippies envious he leads the CVMA as it brings the community inventive events to support MCB Camp Lejeune’s Marines.
“This is what we do, and we’re going to continue doing it until we can’t do it anymore,” said Hooch.