Greetings fellow bikers and Patriots! I just got back two weeks ago from a fantastic ride through the North Georgia Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. Over three days, I rode 950 miles of some of the most scenic country in the United States. Some of the major motorcycle routes I rode were GA Route 60 through the Suches area, the vaunted Moonshiner 28, the Blue Ridge Parkway and New Found Gap Road. These roads are all quite different, but one commonality on each route was that I was carrying concealed. I rarely leave home without a sidearm. And I mean rarely. In fact, I had my trusty SIG Sauer 1911 We The People on my side, with a spare seven-round magazine on my left side. That is 15 rounds of .45 ACP power! But carrying a concealed pistol in the summer – when the temperatures can cook an egg – can be uncomfortable.

Summer Carry

During the summer months, you need to be cognizant of how you carry. When you are dressed in lighter weight clothing, it is much easier to have your firearm “print” through your clothing. While I have noticed a lot of people open carry over the past year, this is just not for me, as I do not want to become a target for someone wanting to score a new firearm. Plus, I firmly believe that surprise is the essence of self-defense. If you are open carrying, and you are unfortunate to be in the same place as a thug committing and armed robbery, you will be the first person the shit-bag aims at.

I am not a small guy at 6′ tall and 205 pounds. This allows me to typically carry outside-the-waist band (OWB). While I own several great inside-the-waistband (IWB) holsters, most notably Crossbreed Holsters Super Tucks, I typically wear tighter jeans when I am riding. Carrying OWB inevitably leads to its own set of issues as doing so makes your sidearm more likely to print through your clothing – especially given the fact that I prefer full-sized or commander sized pistols. That being said, I always wear shirts that would be a bit on the large size for my frame when I am carrying OWB. This helps to conceal my pistol, but because the shirt is a bit larger, it can make it more difficult to draw the pistol. If I decide to wear a shirt that is a bit tighter, I carry my compact SIG Sauer P365 SAS in a small OWB holster made by Crossbreed. It certainly is easier to conceal than my larger frame semi-autos but I also like to carry larger caliber pistols like my P226 SIG Sauer Legion and my P229 SIG.

This is my Crossbreed (OWB) holster with my P365 SAS SIG Sauer pistol – it is great for riding

My suggestion for you is to carry the pistol you are most comfortable with, in a holster that makes it comfortable to wear. The optimum rig would be an IWB holster as they make concealing your firearm easier. A lot of people I know also use an ankle or pocket holster. There are certainly some quality rigs for both type of carry, but neither works well for me. I find ankle holsters uncomfortable and pocket holsters only work for compact pistols which are not my preferred firearm since I do not shoot them as well as larger pistols. You, however, may find one, or the other, a very viable solution.

Know The Carry Laws Where You Travel

Traveling outside your home state can present a dilemma if you prefer to leave your humble abode with your pistol. Before any of my out-of-state trips, I always review the concealed carry laws for the states I will be traveling to. Because I travel to Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky and Virginia regularly, I know my Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit (HCP) is valid in each state. But if I were to venture into Maryland concealing a pistol, I would be subject to arrest and incarceration. If there is any chance that you may change your return ride mid-trip, make sure to check out the laws for each state. (Note: This author never recommends illegally carrying a firearm in states which do not have reciprocal reciprocity with your state. Doing so can result in arrest, expensive legal fees and incarceration.)

If you are planning a trip this summer, consider planning your ride to include only states you are legally allowed to carry in. This September, my beautiful lady and I are heading to The Race of Gentlemen in Wildwood. New Jersey. I definitely will not be carrying during this trip as New Jersey has some of the toughest gun laws in the U.S., and possessing a firearm there is a serious felony which inevitably would require time in their penal system. Something I am just not willing to risk. Some of these anti-gun states do allow you to carry an unloaded pistol, in a lockbox, but may only allow you to do so if you are not staying there – in other words – interstate travel.

Below is a map highlighting states Tennessee have reciprocal concealed carry arrangements with. The states in yellow are good. The states in brown are not so good. The states in black are plain evil and will not get any of my business on long trips on two wheels.

Concealed Carry Reciprocity Map from United States Concealed Carry Association

If you are going to conceal carry, carry your pistol in a rig which is comfortable for you. If you are traveling this summer, you should consider only going to states you can legally carry in with routes that take you through states that honor your right to self-protection.

Until next time, brothers, sisters and Patriots, keep the shiny side up, carry often and live like there is no tomorrow.

Grey Beard Biker
@GreyBeard_Biker on Twitter
@TheGreyBeardBiker on Parler

This is an exclusive Grey Beard Biker opinion piece. All opinions are his and his only. If you do not agree with them, please hop on your girly Honda Grom and motor away. – GBB

I have been suffering from writer’s block recently. It’s not that I don’t have opinions on things or have plenty to say. It’s because, as my beautiful gal in North Carolina says, “everything is rinsed and recycled!” My true love is definitely one damn smart lady – and pretty too. But that is another topic. So this morning, I was thinking about what I could bloviate on in a blog post. I could not think of a damn thing. #Antifa, #BlackLivesMatter, #COVID19, #BlueLivesMatter, #Anarchy – blah, blah, blah! I have absolutely nothing to say on any of these topics right now which haven’t already been beat into the damn ground.

But then, I thought about America. What America is to me. What I miss about our country – the greatest country on the face of the earth. The things which are not happening today with the re-tightening of COVID-19 lockdowns. There are so many things which are not happening today which really are part of the fabric of this great republic. Things which are unique to the America we all love. Things we do which sets us apart from any other country on the face of the planet. Let’s look at a few.

Major League Baseball

You inevitably do not know this about me. Your favorite Grey Beard Biker grew up playing baseball. From Little League through high school and then adult hardball. I was a catcher from the beginning, always wanting to be involved in nearly every play, calling the pitches and most importantly wearing the cool protective gear. Since the early 1970s I remember going to St. Louis Cardinals’ baseball games – and I would get especially excited when they were playing our arch rivals – those lowly baby bears – the Chicago Cubs. I devoured baseball stats and had my player heroes throughout many years: Johnny Bench, Ted Simmons, Lou Brock, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Dizzy Dean, Babe Ruth and of course Jackie Robinson (God Rest His Soul)! And the baseball cards. Does anyone else remember riding their bike to the corner store, buying a pack of Topps baseball cards, putting that paper-thin piece of rock hard gum in their mouth (it would shatter) and trading the cards you didn’t want with your little buddies? Man, I sure do.

Major League Baseball has been called the Great American Past Time for years – often being compared to apple pie. For many Americans, Spring Training is a great distraction from the winter doldrums. It is almost a national holiday for me when pitchers and catchers report in late February. And when Opening Day takes place, I almost always take the day off to watch my beloved Cardinals play on MLB At Bat. And you can count on me playing this song at some point during the day as it reminds me of MLB because Mastercard used to be the primary sponsor of the MLB:

Mastercard – MLB – The Summer Wind

Over the past couple of weeks, MLB and the Major League Baseball Players’ Union have come to an agreement to start the season during the last week of July – probably the last Friday of the month. This is great news. They have made some significant rules changes and also changed the playoffs, but we will be playing ball soon. This is good news. Even though the season will start out without fans in the stadiums, we will still hear, “Play ball!” resounding through our TVs.

Motorcycle Rallies & Events

Fortunately, for a biker like me, most of the rallies occur during the summer months. Rallies and other biker events, like MLB, mean summer is upon us and as bikers are a most patriotic group of Americans, the Stars and Stripes are proudly waving everywhere you look. This is America! The largest rallies, Laconia Motorcycle Week and Sturgis Motorcycle Rally are still taking place, although Laconia has been postponed until August. I have already missed one of my favorite American Flat Track races, the Red Mile, in Lexington, Kentucky, because it was canceled. There have been dozens of other events canceled too. And I cannot help but think this damned COVID-19 thingy is a #COVIDHoax! When these cancellations take place, millions of dollars of tax revenues do not flow into the cities and the states. Liberal governors and mayors are to blame for this.

Fortunately, there is still a full slate of rallies to go to and me and my lady have booked rooms for The Race of Gentlemen, in Wildwood, New Jersey, the last weekend of September. Hopefully we will see some of y’all there. It is truly an American biker/hotrod event and the Stars and Stripes will also be on full display there. Check out my video from a couple of years ago from T.R.O.G.:

The Race of Gentlemen – T.R.O.G.

Summer Vacations & Cookouts

I have pretty much ignored social distancing and shelter-in-place orders since the advent of them caused me to begin a constant Ground Hog Day loop. But even though I am a old damned Granite Head, and ignored the things I was ordered to do, it seemed like I was living in a suspended state of animation.

Summer for me means lots of trips. They may be weekend trips like last weekend’s 950-mile ride to the North Georgia mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway and The Great Smoky Mountains. While I made this trip alone, I met lots of other bikers, smoked plenty of awesome cigars and slept like a baby every night.

But because of my Granite Headedness, I am doing things which many fellow Americans either can’t do – or won’t do. And those of you that are not grabbing life by the proverbial balls, I feel for you. Get out and live life. I still believe we need not let this #ChinaVirus cause us to lose our identities – and the things we love. Someone very dear to me told me recently, “I feel like life is passing me by.” While I haven’t let anything pass me by, many of you have. Don’t let this happen to you. Get on with your life. Take your summer vacations. Invite all of your friends over for a cookout and pool party. Don’t let this weird 2020 go by without doing the things you love.

Grey Beard Biker’s Must Do Thingys:

I never write an opinion piece without offering some sage advice on what all y’all should do. And this opinion rant is no different. So here are some things which we all need to do. It will help the economy and most importantly it will help Keep America Great – #KAG On!:

  1. Support your local MLB teams, and when they allow fans back in the stadiums, buy tickets!
  2. If you are a biker, reserve a room and attend a rally. If you want to meet the original Grey Beard Biker, and his amazingly gorgeous and beautiful true love, reserve your room for The Race of Gentlemen and buy your weekend passes!
  3. Buy 30 pounds of hamburgers and 200 hot dogs, along with 12 bags of chips, 10 pounds of Muzzie deterrent bacon (for the burgers) and invite your entire neighborhood and all of your friends over for a cookout.
  4. Plan your vacation and spend lots of good old greenbacks with locally owned businesses – they need YOU!
  5. Go to the beach and get a tan
  6. Throw a huge pool party and serve a few adult beverages
  7. Get your fireworks and have a blast on the 4th of July (or go to the fireworks display if you are fortunate enough to live in a #RedState like I do)
  8. Go to the park with your dog, lover or both (you know I will be doing this)
  9. Take a long hike in the woods with that special person (you know I will be doing this)
  10. Ride your damn motorcycle and make sure to give the biker wave to other bikers – I always do this
Grey Beard Biker’s Patented Biker Wave (LMBFBAO!)

Until next time, bikers and great Patriot friends, enjoy life – don’t let it pass you by. And most importantly for you biker brother and sisters – keep the shiny side to the sun and dress for the slide not the ride.

Grey Beard Biker
@GreyBeard_Biker on the Twatter
@TheGreyBeardBiker on Parler

This is an exclusive Grey Beard Biker opinion piece. All opinions are his and his only. If you do not agree with them, please hop on your girly Honda Grom and motor away. – GBB

On May 25, 2020 George Floyd was arrested for allegedly trying to make a purchase using counterfeit currency in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Unfortunately, after being cuffed and placed in the back of a police cruiser, he became unruly kicking the inside of the car, etc. He was pulled out of the cruiser and placed on the ground where an officer kneeled on his neck – and according to eyewitness accounts a knee was also on his back in the area of his diaphragm. He died after several minutes – and this was a true tragedy since Mr. Floyd was being arrested for trying to pass a fake $20 bill. But with every tragedy there is a lesson to learn. Mr. Floyd was not submitting to the police and was not following orders. But, at the end of the day, he should not have died. There were other options such as restraining his legs and promptly delivering him to the jail.

Promptly after Mr. Floyd’s unnecessary death nationwide protests broke out in major cities across the country including, but not limited to: Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Louisville and Nashville. These protests brought in the most unsavory characters from groups such as Black Lives Matter (#BLM) and Antifa (#Antifa). While some of the protests started peacefully, many erupted in violence as masked Antifa members burned businesses, cars and injured police officers. These assnozzle low life street thugs, who the day before were reclining on a couch in their mommy’s basement, eating Skittles, answered the call and showed up – I am sure excited to take part in the destruction of personal property and locally owned businesses.

Funding the move to Anarchy

These damn street thugs did not magically appear in hours in cities across the United States. Black Lives Matter and Antifa, are at best, loosely held and managed terrorist organizations. One would wonder, including Grey Beard, if they are registered with the IRS, pay income taxes or employee taxes. It is highly improbable they are 501(c)(3) organizations and tax exempt. It is even more unlikely that they have the financial resources to fund the travel of their masked minions to arrive in cities separated by hundreds if not thousands of miles. And the really curious thing about this is that with so many of these masked cowards (anyone wearing a mask when protesting is the very definition of a damned coward) it would be very difficult for them to arrive when, and where, they are needed.

And while arriving in a large American metropolitan area at just the right time and in the right place to protest, is rather curious, it is not the most curious thing. How did pallets of bottled water, snacks and bricks magically appear for them to use in their anarchical pursuits of injury, death and destruction? Did they magically fall by the pallet load from Black Lives Matter Airlines planes? Being that #BLM does not have properly tail numbered planes flying around this country, this is obviously not how it happened.

So what did happen? There has to be a large funding source. Granted there are donations flowing in from Hollywood celebrities, social justice warriors and other #Leftist assnozzles. But this is not the type of regular large scale funding necessary to carry the protests on for weeks. Could it be the original Marxist douchebag George Soros? He has billions of dollars at his disposal, he hates America, he hates our systems and longs for a state of socialism to exist here – and I am not talking about Democratic Socialism of the ilk of Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. What Soros wants is confusion, fear and uncertainty to proliferate the American electorate ahead of the 2020 General Election. And through shell companies and offshore accounts the money transfer to these terror organizations is not difficult to hide.

Current State of Anarchy in America

With the additional death of Rayshard Brooks, on June 12, 2020, at the hands of a white Atlanta police officer, more fuel has been added to the anarchical fires of #BLM and #Antifa. But, while Floyd’s death was an unnecessary tragedy, Brooks’ death was simply the result of his actions. Police found him passed out in his car in a Wendy’s drive through – quite obviously intoxicated. His criminal past (which the police were probably aware of) included four convictions: false imprisonment, simple battery/family, battery simple and felony cruelty/cruelty to children – all of which he was on probation for. He had voluntarily submitted to a field sobriety test – which he failed. Obviously fearful of being arrested for DUI, a charge by itself which would inevitably have caused his probation to be revoked, sending him to prison for a very long time, he decided to make a break for it, stealing the taser off the officer’s belt before turning on the officer. In a split second, the officer used fatal force to stop a potentially life-threatening injury or death to him or his partner. A taser is not necessarily considered a deadly weapon, but it would have incapacitated the officer making his gun an easy target to kill the officer(s). This officer used deadly force in a situation which called for it. If Rayshard Brooks had followed instructions, he may have spent a long time in prison, but would not have been another senseless loss of life. Here is some very sage advice from GBB: If you are in an encounter with the police – do what you are told. No more, no less.

Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone – Seattle Washington

Brooks’ death was avoidable. It has now caused more injuries and destruction in another city: Atlanta. Those who are continuing to protest are getting more bold setting up an autonomous zone – which is police free – in Seattle. They are living in squalor and filth. They are taunting police and citizens. Businesses are closed for fear of opening in the presence of masked street thugs. As things stand today, more bricks, water and supplies will magically arrive in whatever city the #Anarchists decide to target next. More police officers will be taunted into using force to protect themselves and the riots will continue.

What Should Be Done to Take American Streets Back?

As you know, having read my posts before, I will not throw a bunch of ranting opinions against the wall without providing some thoughts of what I believe to be a solution. These anarchical enclaves are in cities, and in most cases states, with very #Leftist politicians. These politicians are turning their backs on their constituents and allowing this confusion, fear and uncertainty to linger. They have recognized that COVID-19 was not going to destroy Donald J. Trump’s reelection chances. They started pushing for the mail-in-ballot during the Chinese Wuhan virus (yes, damn it, I said it: CHINA VIRUS) and have recognized they will not get it from Coronavirus. But these Libturd politicians are latching onto the spreading #Anarchy and race baiting to create the fear necessary to push again for the mail-in-ballot – the only way they believe they can beat President Trump. And worst, because they are devoted to removing Trump, these mayors and governors will continue to stand down their police and allow the destruction and injuries to mount.

Our solutions are limited at this point:

  1. Use the full resources of the FBI, DEA and BATFE to investigate the origins of the money funding these illegal riots. Perhaps it leads to Soros, or perhaps to the illicit sales of drugs and firearms. There is no reason to doubt that this is going on now, but it may take months to end the funding of this domestic terrorism. (Drawback: this takes too much time – time we don’t have)
  2. Governors from conservative states can activate their National Guards and send them into areas with the most terrorism occurring, but besides the District of Columbia, the states these guardsmen and women will need to deploy to have their own guards commanded by the liberal governors. The presence of guards from other states will be challenged in the court systems. (Drawback legal delays as it works through the court systems)
  3. Donald Trump can federalize National Guard units from any states he chooses and send them to the cities controlled by the #Anarchists. These part time soldiers would inevitably cause a reduction in the violence and crime. (Drawback: time to nationalize and assemble the citizen soldiers)
  4. Donald Trump can activate regular army units like the 82nd Airborne or 101st Air Assault divisions and send them into the zones of insurrection where #Anarchists are flaunting Federal and state laws. These troops would cause #BLM and #Antifa to scatter like chaff in a tornado. There is no way these little masked boys and girls will stick around when they see the U.S. Army arriving at their autonomous zone. (Drawback: activating regular forces would smack of near despotism on Donald Trump’s part with a large portion of the electorate)

While recently, it has been reported that Bikers For Trump and Oathkeepers have planned on being in Seattle to break up the autonomous zone, and there is not doubt a bunch of us bikers, and I would want to be there with them, could clear them out, they will inevitably be arrested by the local police.

This leaves me with one solution to taking back American cities plagued by #Anarchists and social justice warriors. #3 above: Federalize several of the state national guard units and send them into the areas of rioting. It will work and can work quickly enough to prevent anarchy also ruling at our polls in November.

What are your thoughts?

Grey Beard Biker
@GreyBeard_Biker on the Twitter

Today June 6, marks the 76th anniversary of D-Day at Normandy. By the early summer of 1944, the U.S. had been embroiled in World War II for over two years. As a country, we had been against entry into the war until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Everything changed on that day, with congress approving a war declaration and F.D.R. declaring war on Japan, shortly after Pearl Harbor. That would lead to Hitler declaring war on the United States. It was truly a World War and the United States was in it.

Prelude to War in Europe

Britain had long wanted the U.S. to join the fight in Europe against the Axis Powers – Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Vichy French troops. Until Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt could not be swayed. The U.S. had firmly entrenched itself as committed to be a neutral non-interventionist in Europe. After much prodding from Winston Churchill, Roosevelt signed the Lend Lease Act, in March 1941, which pledged support in the form of war ships and military equipment to the primary European Allies – Britain and Russia. Pearl Harbor would be the impetus which would lead to our joining the fight in the Pacific – with the Battle of the Coral Sea, Battle of Midway and Battle of Guadalcanal in early 1942 and the invasion of Vichy held northwest Africa (Operation Torch) in November 1942. The ultimate goal of Torch was to push west to Tunisia, trapping the Axis troops (German and Italian) on the peninsula at Tunis and forcing the surrender of the Afrika Korps, under the command Field Marshall Erwin Rommel. The Allied forces battling Afrika Korps would come from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Free France.

Roosevelt, all along, believed that the primary objective for the European theater should be Berlin, Germany – the headquarters of the Third Reich. He disagreed with Churchill, and the other leaders of the Allies, in an approach to Europe through Africa and southern France. F.D.R. believed that the quickest path to victory would be a straight line – and the straightest line led through northern France to Berlin. While true, the planning and build up to a cross-channel invasion would take years – years that homeland Britain, and Russia, did not have. Britain was being bombed daily from western Europe and Russia was being pummeled by Germany on the Eastern Front. After much prodding from Churchill, and Stalin, about the merits of striking the “soft underbelly” of the Axis in North Africa and Southern France, Roosevelt agreed to the invasions. This would allow the Allies to divert – or at least occupy – German forces on the two fronts in Europe, while the build up for the cross-channel invasion was completed.

None of the Allied leaders believed that the path to southern Europe, and the “soft underbelly” of the Axis, would take so long and cost so much. Ultimately that path would lead through the major battles of Africa, Sicily, southern Italy and southern France. The cost in blood would be staggering with the Allies suffering over 63,000 killed in action and nearly 340,000 missing or wounded. Battles would be named for locales which most Americans had never heard of: Oran, Kasserine Pass, Tunis, Salerno, Anzio, Monte Cassino, Ley Muy, Saint Tropez, Saint Raphael, Marseille and Toulon. The strategic goal of diverting Axis troops to the southern front was largely unsuccessful. Bombings continued unabated in Britain and Russian forces had their hands full on the Eastern Front. However, the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, southern Italy, Anzio and southern France benefitted the Allies significantly. These invasions all required huge flotillas, airborne infantry units penetrating behind enemy lines and immense beach landings of infantry, engineers and armored forces. Lessons learned during this time would prove essential for military planners preparing for the cross-channel invasion of Europe – code named: Operation Overlord.

Planning for Operation Overlord

Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower

Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) was responsible for the planning and execution of Operation Overlord. Supreme Allied Commander, U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, was in overall command with British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery being in command of the overall European Theater. Forces involved would come from: the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Czechkosolovakia, Luxembourg, Greece, Netherlands and Norway.

Inevitably, Hitler knew the Allies were planning an invasion from England. But he assumed it would be at Pas de Calais – the closest point of continental Europe across the English Channel – and the launch site for V-1 and V-2 rockets which continued to bombard London. With this in mind, Hitler ordered this region heavily fortified. He was unaware that Allied planners had chosen Normandy because of its geography – there were less rivers and canals in the area so a broad front of Allied soldiers could mass after the landing. Additionally, the proximity of Normandy to the port of Cherbourg, in the American sector, and Brittany, in the English sector, made Normandy more appealing. The Allied Expeditionary Forces would require massive amounts of supplies, armored vehicles, clothing, ammunition and fuel. Opening a broad beachhead at Normandy would satisfy their port requirements – to a degree – once the Americans opened the port at Cherbourg.

The Allied planners agreed that there would be three phases of the cross-channel invasion:

  1. Allied bombing raids would target rail lines, German manufacturing, fuel supplies and airfields. Codenamed Operation Point Blank, these bombing raids were designed to prevent quick reinforcement of Axis lines from the south and ensure air superiority over Normandy
  2. Airborne infantry would drop behind Axis lines several hours before the beach landings to tie up some of the German defenses and open up pathways to the interior for infantry landing on the beaches.
  3. Seaborne landings would begin on June 5 (later postponed to June 6 due to low cloud ceiling preventing airborne transport planes from dropping their sticks accurately) with First Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, landing on the two western beaches (Utah and Omaha) and Second Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Miles Dempsey, landing at the three eastern beaches (Gold, Juno and Sword). Bradley’s First Army would include the American V Corps and VII Corps. Dempsey’s Second Army would include British I Corps, XXX Corps and the First Canadian Army. Included with the First Canadian would be troops from Poland, Netherlands and Belgium.

The objective for Operation Overlord was for Bradley’s First Army to quickly cut off the Cotentin Peninsula and capture the port of Cherbourg. The U.S. Airborne troops, consisting of the 82nd Airborne Division, commanded by Major General Matthew Ridgeway, and the 101st Airborne Division, commanded by Brigadier General Maxwell Taylor, would be transported on 432 C-47 planes and were tasked with opening the beach causeways and blocking German reinforcements coming from the east towards Carentan. The British airborne force included Major General Richard Nelson Gale’s 6th Airborne Division which would drop near Caen. They were tasked with capturing two bridges over the Caen Canal and Orne River, allowing ingress of troops once the Normandy beachhead was established.

D-Day at Normandy

Troop Ships in the English Channel steaming to Normandy

Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower communicated by letter with all Allied forces on the afternoon of June 5:

“You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.”

At 22:30 on June 5, the C-47s containing the U.S. Airborne troops began taking off from airfields in Great Britain. These serials would continue departing over the next hour. Entering France from the west, the C-47s decreased their altitude from 1,500 feet to 500 feet. Despite precise planning, the transports quickly scattered due to a solid cloud bank, heavy German anti-aircraft (flak) fire and unmarked/improperly marked drop zones. The two airborne divisions would take the better part of two days to organize.

Preliminary naval bombardment of the Atlantic Wall defenses began at 05:45 and continued until 06:25. Five battleships, 20 cruisers and 65 destroyers would fire tons of heavy naval ordnance with minimal damage being done to the Atlantic Wall defenses.

Overnight, infantry began departing the shores of Great Britain for their voyage across the English Channel. Code named Operation Neptune, the beach landing armada would include nearly 7,000 vessels – 1,213 of which were naval warships, 4,126 landing ships/crafts and nearly 900 merchant ships.

Airborne Infantry entering Normandy

The first troop landings began at 06:30 with the U.S. 4th Infantry Division landing around 1/2 mile south of their planned landing zone. Commanded on D-Day by Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr., son of President Teddy Roosevelt, the 4th Division would meet only minor resistance forming their beachhead. Suffering approximate 200 casualties, by the end of D-Day, they would push four clicks ashore by nightfall. Roosevelt would be the only general officer to land by sea on D-Day and would survive just over one month, dying on July 12 of a heart attack.

With the scattered nature of the U.S. Airborne drops – only 10% of the assault forces would actually land in their assigned drop zones – confusion ruled the early fighting. The 82nd Airborne Division would capture Sainte-Mere Eglise, but its failure to capture the crossing of River Merderet would result in a delay sealing off the Cotentin Peninsula. The 101st Airborne Division, The Screaming Eagles, would capture a crossing of the River Douve, near Caretan, somewhat protecting the southern flank.

Infantry rushing the beaches of Normandy

Meanwhile, the more heavily defended landing at Omaha Beach was assigned to the U.S. 1st and 29th infantry divisions. Unknowingly, these troops were not facing a single German regiment, but the entire 352nd Nazi German Division. Casualties at Omaha Beach would be greater than all other landing zones combined as they faced concentrated artillery and machine gun fire from heavily fortified pillboxes along the heights overlooking the beach. By 08:30, landings would have to be delayed as beach obstructions were causing havoc along the entry points to the beach. Complicating matters were the scant five exit gullies from the beach – the only way to reach high ground. By noon, infantry, aided by naval gunfire, had started reaching the German defenses – which were beginning to run out of ammunition. The beachhead would remain quite tenuous over the coming days with D-Day objectives pushing out to D+3.

Infantry forces landing at Normandy

Second Army landings at Gold and Juno would be complicated by high seas and wind. Landings at Sword would be more successful with tanks and infantry clearing a significant beachhead and supporting the delayed landings at Gold and Juno.

Over the coming days, man made harbors would begin to be assembled to allow supply ships, infantry and tanks to continue the buildup at Normandy and supply food, medical supplies, ammunition and much needed fuel. The armada of military vehicles and tanks pushing into Normandy would eclipse 10,000 by D+1.

Infantry landing at Normandy

While the initial objectives of D-Day were only partially met, it would prove a singular success over the intervening years. The beachheads would continue to grow, with each passing day, allowing nearly 1.5 million Allied troops to enter France by July 25th and over 2 million by September 1st. But the cost would be extremely high on both sides. The butcher’s bill on D-Day alone, would climb to over 10,000 Allied troops – with 4,414 killed in action (KIA). Additionally 185 Sherman tanks would be lost, including most of their crews, landing at the beaches. Some of these tanks had been modified to disembark in deep water and push ashore via propellers. This proved folly, as most all of the “amphibious” tanks would never reach shore.

The Nazi German toll on D-Day is unknown, but estimated to be between 4,000 and 10,000. Many of these would be captured and sent to prisoner of war camps in the United Kingdom and the United States. Given the defenses along the Atlantic Wall, the lower casualties of Axis troops was expected.

The United States paid the highest price on D-Day. All told, recently updated casualty figures, from the US National D-Day Memorial Foundation, have confirmed 6,603 total U.S. casualties, with 1,914 KIA. The stiff resistance at Omaha Beach is where the majority of these casualties occurred.

The Grey Beard Biker’s respect for all veterans, current members of our armed forces and especially those airborne troops, infantry troops, army air force troops and sailors who took part on D-Day knows no bounds. While the veterans of WW II are called the Greatest Generation, Grey Beard views all who have signed their contract with the U.S. armed forces, in blood, to be greater than great. God Bless the United States, her allies and especially our troops in harm’s way!

Grey Beard Biker
@GreyBeard_Biker on the Twitter

Has there ever been a weirder time than this? No, it is not a rhetorical question. The time we are living in is weird beyond what I could have ever imagined. I am not used to riding around streets with so few cars. When I go to bed at night, I hope to wake up in the morning to normal. But it never seems to end. I just want my favorite Mexican restaurant – and my favorite waiter – to be there with my chimichangas and a big margarita. But they are only doing take up now – but the good news is that you can get a take out margarita with your dinner.

Your ever-lovable Grey Beard Biker feels like he is living in the movie, Ground Hog Day. Everything is a repeat of the previous day. Being used to traveling by air nearly every week, I have not flown since early March. That’s weird. I haven’t stayed in a hotel or rented a car since early March. Honestly, I do not miss any of that after having done this for 25+ years. But being in my home office everyday does cause me to get a bit restless. I wake up, brush my teeth, take my RA meds, go downstairs and watch the early national news, do some Twitter stuff, work all day, eat dinner, do some Twitter stuff, brush my teeth, read, go to sleep. And repeat. Every. Single. Day.

But, being a biker, as you know I am, I do get out of the house quite a bit to take rides. Last week there was a 365-mile day trip to ride the Calfkiller Highway. There was a Saturday ride to the Amish grocery in Charlotte. On Sunday I rode over to my buddy Rob’s house for some day drinking. This evening I rode a 60 mile loop around Montgomery and Robertson counties. But something still feels off – even when I am on the Grey Ghost. And I can’t put my finger on it. It feels like people have closed off from the world – even when they are out and about. They have closed the doors to their life and are in suspended animation. Weird, huh?

But There Is Light at the End of the Tunnel

Today, Tennessee governor Bill Lee, announced that the state would begin gradually turning on the lights over the coming weeks. Next week, certain businesses will begin reopening – although he did not specify which businesses would be targeted. He also announced that he would not be extending the shelter-in-place order which expires on May 1. But starting the entire economy back up is not like pushing the start button on the Grey Ghost. It will take some time. There are thousands of moving parts which need to be started in the right order.

Other governors, primarily in RED southern states are following suit. Beaches are opening again in Florida. So we are definitely seeing a movement to get things back to normal. Will it be a new normal or will it be like it was before we were slammed by the China Virus? Only time will tell. I do know, that in my industry, auto claims are way down. People are not driving their cars as much – so they are not having accidents. On the repair side of the business, many mom-and-pop businesses may never open their doors. Larger multi-site operators (MSOs) have furloughed thousands of their employees. Will all of them ever have a spot to come back to? There are so many unknowns about what our future holds.

Another positive sign is that many conservative citizens are beginning to protest the overreach of certain states. It seems unusual to see conservative protests, but they are happening. People are beginning to see through the ruse. They are beginning to see that the Deep State still exists. It still thrives on creating confusion about our leaders. The mainstream media is part of the Deep State and has been peddling lies and creating sensational narratives to try and deceive the American public. But we are not going to be fooled by them any longer. President Trump continues to call them out on the carpet and brow beat them. And they need it. Hell, I’d give most of them a fucking throat punch. They are spineless amoebas that only know one thing – they hate Donald J. Trump. End of the damned story. They suffer from severe Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS).

Final Thoughts

While I have been forced to change my work habits, not travel as much and stay in the man cave more than usual, I have not stopped living. I continue to live every single day like it might be my last. I go and see friends. They come over for cigars and whiskey several times a week. I canceled a ride to New Orleans for last weekend, but I still ride more that 90% of so called bikers do when there is no limitations on what we can do. And all this is not changing. I will keep doing what I want to do. I will buy things I want to buy. I will keep my whiskey cabinet stocked with fine bourbons. My humidors will stay full. I am still going to ride to Colorado this summer. I will still ride to Panama City Beach this fall. I will go to a lot of bike rallies. Why? Because you can’t hold the damned Grey Beard Biker down. And my advice to you? Do the same. Live your damned life like you want.

Grey Beard Biker
@GreyBeard_Biker on the Twitter

Good evening fellow bikers, American patriots and Second Amendment freedom lovers! I hope that you have been getting a lot of riding in this spring. Soon, we will be celebrating Memorial Day weekend – a solemn weekend to remember those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Hopefully, you will come out and see me at Smoky Mountain Thunder – over Memorial Day Weekend. I will be with the great folks from Thunder Roads Magazine and should be easy to find.

For the past four years, you have counted on me for information on firearms, self-defense, politics, Second Amendment news and concealed carry. This month’s article is about proper training and pistol drills. If you carry concealed, for self-defense, you must practice. Unfortunately, I have talked to many individuals with Handgun Carry Permits (HCP) who went through the process of buying a pistol, applying for their HCP, getting fingerprinted, going through the background check and passing their live fire qualification – only to never practice again. These individuals might actually be safer without carrying a firearm than with it. Inevitably, if you are ever in a situation where you need to protect yourself, you will be under severe stress and your actions need to happen from muscle memory – not stress. That muscle memory is only developed by practice.

Dry Fire Drills

Living within the city limits, I cannot practice with live fire at home. My preferred range is a 45-minute ride – which is something I do not do every week. But, as I have learned over the years, the best practice routine is dry fire drills. The are simple, and because you are not firing live ammunition, they are free.

My practice routine is very simple. I practice with all of my different carry pistols. I start by removing the magazine and ejecting the round in the barrel (if you do not carry your pistol with a cartridge in the barrel, you have a paperweight – not a self-defense firearm). Double-check that the pistol is in fact cleared and then triple-check. We all know that many deaths and injuries have come from unloaded guns, correct? Remove all ammunition from the area you will be drilling in. Yes, go overboard. Be safe. Stay alive.

First, I practice drawing from my holster. I dress the way I would in public, with a shirt over my holstered pistol. I swipe my shirt away, draw, bring my pistol to low-ready, re-holster. I repeat this for a total of ten repetitions. Then I will repeat the drill, swiping the shirt away, draw to low-ready, bring the pistol up to high-ready and squeeze the trigger. Re-holster and repeat for a total of ten repetitions. This builds your muscle memory around drawing, coming to low-ready, high-ready and squeezing off a shot.

MANTISX Dry Fire Training System

Next, I use my MANTISX System with my smart phone to practice trigger control. The Mantis system tracks barrel movement before the trigger pull, and afterwards. Practicing with the MantisX is actually better for me than live range fire. With instantaneous feedback, you can actually learn better trigger control, waste less ammunition and improve your live fire groupings. I practice with my dry-fire techniques way more often than I go to the range.

Live Fire Drills

While I do practice what I preach with dry fire training, there is still something special about the smell of cordite in the morning – in other words sending lead downrange. I like to feel the recoil and to see the physical evidence of where my shots are going. When I go to the range, I will typically start with shooting 50 – 100 rounds at paper. During this time, I am not looking to blast the bullseye out but to make sure my groupings are consistent, and my pistols are all functioning properly. Those of you that are only concerned about tearing the 10-ring up are missing the purpose of practicing for self-defense: a well placed first shot followed by an equally well-placed follow up shot. In a real-life situation, you are not trying to literally shoot out the eye of an attacker, but to incapacitate them quickly. This is done through ventilating their center-mass, making it impossible for them to breathe.

From the paper target range, I go to the tactical pistol training area. At most ranges this is the only area you can practice drawing, rapid fire shooting and tactical firing positions. I load five rounds in each of two magazines so I can practice a quick magazine change. With my pistol holstered, I walk up to the area I plan to fire from, get set in my isosceles stance, deliberately draw, concentrating on technique, take aim and fire the five shots quickly – concentrating on follow up shots on different targets. I do a quick magazine change, pull the slide back to put the pistol in battery, and fire the next five shots. I will typically run through about 100 rounds of ammunition at the tactical range. The benefit of tactical pistol practice is the instant feedback the metal plates provide.

Tactical Live Fire Pistol Drill with magazine change

Closing Thoughts

After years of training in self-defense, there is no substitute for practice. But you must practice smart. You must do a lot of dry fire practice – at least five times as much as live fire practice. Your muscle memory and trigger control will become much better ingrained from the dry fire drills. And remember, without continual practice, you will not be prepared if the unthinkable happens.

Until next month, #LIVEtoRide and #RIDEtoLIVE. I hope to see you at Smoky Mountain Thunder over Memorial Day Weekend.

Grey Beard Biker
@GreyBeard_Biker on the Twitter

Here we are fully into a beautiful spring in Middle Tennessee. The flowering cherry trees have bloomed and now have full branches of leaves. The dogwoods and redbuds are sporting their full colors. And, ironically, the area is all but shut down from COVID-19 – better known as Novel Coronavirus. Life seems to have been turned upside down.

Since its arrival in the Wuhan province of China, nearly 1.5 million people have contracted the virus world-wide. The United States leads all countries with over 490,000 cases and 18,000 deaths. When I venture out of my man cave the streets are nearly deserted. Businesses are closed – many to never reopen. There are cars about, but nothing compared to normal. And yes, we have the same shortages of toilet paper as the rest of the country. All the health clubs are closed. My favorite Mexican restaurant is open for carryout – including margaritas. Praise the Lord! (Can I get a big AMEN!! – LOL)

It is really a desperate situation our great country finds itself in. The politics of it all are beyond disgusting. Instead of coming together, in a bipartisan fashion (which is what our country has traditionally done), to help American businesses, and individuals, the recently passed $2 trillion stimulus package had to go back and forth as the DemonRats continued to push for their pet projects: aid for Planned Parenthood, aid for the Kennedy Center, nullification of certain presidential executive orders, hikes in the Federal minimum wage, requirements for airlines to go “green,” cash for airline clunkers, $10,000 in blanket student loan forgiveness, more Federal control over elections, requirements for the Department of Homeland Security to extend visas and work authorizations, limits on CBP’s abilities to shut down immigration processing facilities during the pandemic, Federal funding for sanctuary cities and expansions to Obamacare. Now what in the hell do any of these socialist wet dreams have to do with helping businesses and individuals? Absolutely nothing!!!

China lies about the origins of Novel Corona virus

China, WHO and the ultimate responsibility

Your ever-lovable Grey Beard Biker is very wise – at least most of the time. And he has had plenty of time to think about this whole COVID-19 thingy. Plenty of time. In fact, you have probably noticed I have not had any new blog posts lately. I have started several and would just get so agitated writing that I could not finish. Not that I had writing block, per se, but just because I could not get things written quite the way I wanted. So this post is based on my opinion only and is in your face – but that is just the way it has to be.

So here is my unvarnished take on this whole thing. China has been under severe financial duress. Our great president’s tariffs have sunk their financial largess. They cannot finance debt with no cash. The black market knockoffs cannot be sold for huge profits to the United States any longer. They are beyond their means and people are starving and eating vermin.

China used Coronavirus as a form of biological warfare. There is no doubt whatsoever. They lied about its origins. It was not caused by some Chinese person eating a bat in a damn wet market. Some of their military labs and biological labs are located in Wuhan. Coincidence? Hell fucking NO! It doesn’t take an economist and an infectious disease expert to realize a virus which can morph itself, spread through the air and become a pandemic would be a financial blow to the world markets, corporations, private businesses and individuals. China used this virus as warfare.

The World Health Organization is as guilty as China. They have allowed China’s lies to become the face of reality to the world. It is abominable. They need to be defunded by all nations. As an organization, dedicated to protecting the health of all the world’s people, they have failed in their mandate.

Final Thoughts

Presidents are judged by how they handle the crises they face. Abraham Lincoln saved the Union and freed the slaves. Franklin Delano Roosevelt ramped up U.S. manufacturing, supplying our allies, and assembled the strongest military ever seen in the world – winning World War II. John F. Kennedy stared the Soviet Union straight in the eye and ended the Cuban Missile Crisis without a shot being fired. Donald J. Trump will defeat the COVID-19 virus through his leadership – uncovering China’s culpability in this disease and punishing them. This is a given and is what keeps the Leftists up at night. They know he is #winnning again!

Grey Beard Biker
@GreyBeard_Biker on the Twitter

Spring has officially sprung, fellow bikers! While your ever-lovable Grey Beard Biker rides year-round, the 2020 riding season is officially here. Where will 2020 take you? Perhaps to Smoky Mountain Thunder over Memorial Day Weekend? I certainly hope so. It is an amazing event that will make even the toughest biker well up with tears remembering the sacrifices our veterans have made to protect our freedom. We all know that FREEDOM IS NOT FREE!

We all cherish the Second Amendment. It is a very simple sentence:

“A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

But this single sentence has been perverted by the gun control crowd more than any other sentence in our founding documents.

Our Founding Documents

Before we dive too deep into the Second Amendment, let’s take a look at all of our Founding documents:

  1. The Declaration of Independence was our original document. It was written primarily by Thomas Jefferson, with input from Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman. This document declared our independence and described what our Founders were striving for: a democratic republic. It would be ratified by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.
  2. The U.S. Constitution was the operating blueprint for the United States. It was officially ratified by all of the states on June 21, 1788 and became the effective rule of the land on March 4, 1789.
  3. The Bill of Rights was our next founding document and became the first 10 amendments to our U.S. Constitution. After the adoption of our constitution, many of our Founding Fathers were concerned about a lack of protection for the citizens. These Founders were primarily aligned with the Anti-Federalists and included the most outspoken critic of the Federalists, Thomas Jefferson. These wise men wanted protections for the people including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and protection against an overarching Federal government. These ten amendments would be drafted on September 25, 1789 and ratified by all states on December 15, 1791.

These amendments obviously included the Second – which we freedom lovers cherish. Over the years, there have been continuous attacks on the Second Amendment by those who wish to limit our ability to “keep and bear arms.” The biggest being the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 – a law which fortunately expired after 10 years of doing nothing to prevent violent crime with firearms. But the calls for new assault weapon bans continue along with other proposed legislation including: Universal background checks, restrictions in magazine capacity, banning of all semiautomatic firearms and gun registries. The biggest fallback fallacy of those wanting to take away our freedoms is, “the founders never envisioned modern weapons.” Or, “it only applies to the militia” – which they falsely claim to be our National Guard. This is all a bunch of hooey. Every single one of the Bill of Rights speaks to individual rights, with the exception of the Tenth Amendment – which provides that all rights not reserved to the Federal Government are reserved to the states.

Federalist No. 46

The Federalist Papers were written by three of the Founding Fathers: John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. These essays were originally written anonymously under the pseudonym, Publius, and were used as a way for these Founders to speak directly to the “People” – before the ratification of our Constitution.

Federalist No. 46 was written by James Madison and spoke to the “right to keep and bear arms.” Keep in mind this was before the ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Some of the key portions of No. 46 are:

With regards to our right to bear arms, Madison writes, “The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States; an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and conducted by governments (states) possessing their affections and confidence.” Madison continues, “Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments (states), to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government (Federal government) of any form can admit of.”


So, what does this all mean? First, the citizens of the United States are the last protection against any enemy, foreign or domestic. Domestic? Yes! Madison, and all of the Founders, recognized that a strong central government, with an ambition to force its will on her people, is dangerous to all God Given rights. Including speech, the press, assembly and the right to a speedy trial. Second, Madison recognized that these God Given rights are not given by the government. This includes the right to protect yourself. Someone attacking you is wanting to take away your rights to everything outlined in the Bill of Rights – with the exception of the Tenth Amendment. So, the next time a gun grabber tells you that you don’t need a gun, confidently tell them that it’s the Bill of Rights – which includes your right to live how you choose and protect yourself.

Grey Beard Biker
@GreyBeard_Biker on the Twiter

Here in Middle Tennessee we have YUGE amounts of veterans and active duty soldiers. Your ever-lovable Grey Beard Biker lives very close to Fort Campbell, which is home to the famous 101st Airborne Division (Screaming Eagles), 5th Group Special Forces and 160 Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR). Needless to say there are always lots of veteran motorcycle club (MC) rides, benefit rides and other charitable biker events for veterans and active duty soldiers alike. And it is very likely, if you were to attend one of these, you’d see the Grey Ghost blasting by with Grey Beard sitting behind the bars with a shit-eating grin on his face.

These rides and benefit functions are all great, but my favorite ride/event of the year, is Smoky Mountain Thunder. And it’s not because it’s in some of the most beautiful God’s Country in the United States, but because it’s all about our veterans.

Smoky Mountain Thunder – History

In an effort to provide full disclosure, Smoky Mountain Thunder was founded, and is managed by, friends of mine, Ron and Sandy Giddis. I met them several years ago through another awesome couple who I am also quite close to, Scott and Denise High, owners of Thunder Roads Tennessee Kentucky. And once again, to provide total clarity, your ever lovable Grey Beard Biker writes the monthly column, Bullet Points, for Thunder Roads Magazine. But I receive no personal financial gain from supporting Ron and Sandy.

Ron is a veteran, having served in the Vietnam War. After retiring, he moved to the mountains of East Tennessee and got involved working with large animals. But he and Sandy have another passion – riding their Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Their love of riding was a perfect fit for them as they live in the Smoky Mountains and have miles and miles of beautiful roads in their proverbial backyard.

Their love of motorcycles and veteran causes took them to Rolling Thunder in 1998, and again in 2000. For those of you who do not know about Rolling Thunder, it was established to raise awareness of our POWs/MIAs who are unaccounted for overseas. While every event has inauspicious beginnings, Rolling Thunder grew to host over 200,000 bikers in our nation’s capitol – Washington D.C. Arriving home after Rolling Thunder, in 2000, Ron and Sandy decided it was time to raise awareness of the meaning of Memorial Day in East Tennessee and the surrounding states. Their first Smoky Mountain Thunder was in 2001 and keeps going strong today. No one is a better ambassador for the event than Ron:

Ron at the opening ceremony – 2014 Smoky Mountain Thunder

We have ridden Smoky Mountain Thunder the past several years and always look forward to the next Memorial Day Weekend! The crowd starts forming at the Sevier Country Courthouse, in downtown Sevierville, by 8:00 AM for the opening ceremony. Bikers ride from all over the country to listen to Ron open things up at 10:00 AM. There are guest speakers, music and the special guest Mr. Lincoln, the bald eagle. Ron and Sandy lead the bikers for the ride to Clinch Mountain promptly at 11:00 AM. He and Sandy are followed by riders flying the colors of each of our Armed Service branches. The 65-mile ride to Clinch Mountain, in Grainger County, is police escorted and offers riders scenic views of the Great Smoky Mountains. The closing ceremony at Veteran’s Overlook wraps up the day’s events as the bikes ride under a U.S. Flag, held up by fire trucks from the local fire department. The entire event pulls at your heartstrings, but the closing ceremony is the most moving.

Here is some GoPro video I took a couple years back as we leave Sevierville:

Smoky Mountain Thunder – 2018
Lead bikes with each of military branches’ flags
Mr. Lincoln, the bald eagle, during the opening ceremony
Ron & Sandy leading thousands of bikes to Clinch Mountain
Bikers ride under the suspended Stars and Stripes when they arrive at Clinch Mountain
Thousands of bikers gather at Clinch Mountain for the closing ceremony
Veteran’s Memorial with the Smoky Mountains in the background
Thousands of bikes in the parking long and along the highway at Clinch Mountain
Ron & Sandy Giddis – your hosts for Smoky Mountain Thunder

Attending Smoky Mountain Thunder – 2020

2020 marks the 20th anniversary of Smoky Mountain Thunder. The event has grown from 75 bikes in 2001 to several thousand bikes now. In 2015 a record 4,015 bikes rode to Clinch Mountain and 2020 promises to set a new record! Don’t miss your opportunity to ride with us in the Smoky Mountains, visit the sponsors and bid on the auction items.

It’s time to start planning your trip to the Gatlinburg area for this event. There is plenty of lodging available in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Wears Valley and Sevierville. There is also great camping if you enjoy roughing it a bit. We usually stay as a group in a rental cabin and there are always plenty of those available through Airbnb and VRBO. But getting reservations early is important. I would highly recommend that you go early and wait to leave until after Memorial Day Monday. There is definitely less traffic, and by staying a week you can ride some of the best motorcycle roads in the United States.

More information about the 2020 Smoky Mountain Thunder Memorial Ride can be found in their official brochure:

Official 2020 Smoky Mountain Thunder brochure

The Grey Beard Biker hopes to see you in Sevierville on Sunday, May 24, 2020. Now go get some riding in and keep the shiny side up.

Grey Beard Biker
@GreyBeard_Biker on the Twitter

When a lot of people see me and my biker brothers rumbling down the road they often times think we are a bunch of thugs. And while there are inevitably biker thugs, there are plenty of thug lawyers (Duh, Captain Obvious), business executives, salespeople and politicians (another BIG Duh!). What these apprehensive non-bikers don’t realize is that most REAL bikers are family men (and women) that have great friends, hold down real jobs and are very active in their communities.

We are also very generous with charities we believe in. One of our local groups is Bikers Who Care. This great organization hosts a summer camp for children battling illness and injuries called Camp Rainbow. They also run the BWC Toy Run – which every September collects thousands of toys for needy families in the area. There are plenty of great charities supported by the biker community – another of which is one of my favorites: Bikers Against Child Abuse. But, by far, my favorite charities support our armed forces. Every Memorial Day Weekend your ever-lovable Grey Beard Biker rides to the mountains to take part in Smoky Mountain Thunder – a charitable organization which for the past 20 years has worked to raise awareness for POWs, PTSD and other veteran causes. But here I am rambling on when what I really want to do is tell you about another great charitable organization which helps veterans – Code of Vets.

Code of Vets

Living near Fort Campbell, I have many brothers and sisters in either the 101st Airborne Division, 5th Group Special Forces or 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR). We ride together, break bread together and once in a while throw back an adult beverage with a nice cigar (okay, sometimes it’s more than one adult beverage). Our veterans and active duty military service members are great people and very genuine. But often, they are away from home on deployment for long period of time – leaving family behind. Some suffer from the long term effects of injuries and PTSD. And worst, some never make it home – leaving a family behind. Additionally, there are financial struggles, family issues and many other difficulties they face on a daily basis.

I first heard about Code of Vets on Twitter. If you were to type in #CodeofVets in the Twitter search box, you will find thousands of Patriots who support this 501(c)(3) organization. Most of us know of several national veteran organizations such as Wounded Warrior Project, the USO, Homes for Our Troops and Tunnel to Towers. These organizations are all well known for their work, but larger organizations also have lots of expenses and staff salaries. This reduces the amount of support they can provide our veterans and families. What makes Code of Vets so unique is that it’s a grassroots organization. Your donation to them is not slashed by the heavy expenses incurred by the large charitable veteran organizations.

About Code of Vets

One of the strengths of Code of Vets is their ability to use social media to reach out to veterans in need. As its founder, Gretchen Smith, has stated, the organization’s output is literally “virtual boots on the ground.” They are able to connect veterans in crisis with other veterans who have experienced similar challenges. Code of Vets, and its partners, can assist veterans trying to navigate the bureaucracy which is the VA, get professional help for their medical and emotional needs and even help with their financial needs. Their staff is comprised of volunteers dedicated to helping veterans. Gretchen has told me that 99% of donations go to support veterans with the only real costs being credit card processing fees and accounting services.

But, there is no one who can tell you about Code of Vets any better than Gretchen:

Gretchen Smith explains what the Code of Vets does

Our veterans need our help. Your ever-lovable Grey Beard Biker encourages you to donate to the charities of your choice. But for veteran causes, you cannot find a better organization to donate to than Code of Vets. To learn more about them, or to donate, click HERE. You can be assured that almost your entire donation will go to support our veterans – which is why we donate in the first place. Please feel free to reach out to me via email with any questions. I will forward these directly to Code of Vets for response.

Until next time, keep the shiny side up!

Ride to Live! Live to Ride!
Grey Beard Biker
@GreyBeard_Biker on the Twitter