Harley-Davidson: Bikes Over Baghdad

Harley Supports Military

Harley-Davidson’s commitment to the U.S. military dates back almost 100 years. Nearly one-third of all Harley-Davidson motorcycles produced in 1917 went to support efforts during World War I, and nearly half of the Motor Company’s production in 1918.

During World War II, the Harley 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.

Now, holiday cheer will come early for some of the 50,000 U.S. and Coalition Armed Forces serving in the Middle East.

This holiday season, Harley is now teaming up with Bikes Over Baghdad for seven adrenaline-packed action sports performances at military bases throughout Iraq and Kuwait, all with one mission in mind: to thank our troops.

"Harley-Davidson shares a deep sense of freedom and patriotism with the U.S. Armed Forces, and we are grateful for their many sacrifices, dedication and hard work," said Mike McCann, director of core customer marketing at Harley-Davidson.

"We have a long-standing relationship with the U.S. Military, and teaming up with Bikes Over Baghdad is a great way to show our appreciation. We are honored and excited to be part of this tour."

Bikes Over Baghdad (BOB) is a BMX exhibition made up of an elite handful of the world’s best action sports athletes, announcers and ramp builders. The upcoming tour is the third of its kind, following two popular visits in 2009.

McCann will be joining the team November 28 through December 9 as they travel to Iraq and Kuwait to perform for an estimated 20,000 U.S. troops, most of whom have little or no access to entertainment of any kind.

For the athletes who make up the tour – Chad Kagy, Brian Kachinsky, Mike Escamilla, Anthony Napolitan, Drew Bezanson, Zack Yankush, Mykel Larrin, Ron Kimler and Nate Wessel – BOB3 means putting their lives at risk to provide a few hours of escape, excitement, and camaraderie with those who have given everything to protect America’s freedom.

"Our mission in Iraq is simple. We want to show the troops that we care, that America hasn’t forgotten about them," said Brian Kachinsky, an X Games bronze medalist who participated in the first two BOB tours and calls the experience "exhilarating, intense and life-changing."

He’ll never forget performing in 120-degree heat and shaking hands with soldiers who thanked him for being there. "It’s crazy when the troops thank us for performing," said Kachinsky. "We’re the ones who should be thanking them. They’re the real heroes, not us."

Kachinsky’s highlights of past BOB tours include flying in a Blackhawk helicopter, sleeping in Saddam Hussein’s palace, detonating C4 explosives, and experiencing what daily life is like for the troops in Iraq.

But it was time simply spent hanging out with the troops, talking about their families, homes, and war zone experiences that really made an impact on BOB team members. They were told time and again by service men and women that, for just a few hours, they were able to forget they were in Iraq.

"The troops love the adrenaline and excitement of the Bikes Over Baghdad shows," said McCann. "It’s an incredible feeling for us to get to participate in something that celebrates and shares the spirit of youthful adventure for which Harley-Davidson has long been known."

McCann will give out free Harley-Davidson MotorClothes and other merchandise and gifts at each performance. One service member will also win a brand new 2011 Harley-Davidson XR1200X motorcycle.