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Night Stalkers

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Many of you have seen the movie, Lone Survivor. It was based on retired Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell‘s gripping story as the actual “Lone Survivor.” In the movie, Mark Wahlberg was cast as Marcus, and Luttrell actually had a small supporting role. The movie was very well done with superb cinematography, acting and stunts. Watching the movie, your lovable Grey Beard Biker could feel the pain of all four Navy SEALs as they literally fell down the mountain in Afghanistan, to get away from the Taliban fighters. That was make believe – a movie adaption of actual events.

Operation Red Wings

In real life, Navy SEALs Michael P. Murphy, Danny Dietz, Matthew Axelson and Luttrell would all inserted into a remote section of Afghani mountains to perform an overwatch of a village believed to harbor a known Taliban leader. Codenamed Operation Red Wings, after the Detroit NHL team, it would become symbolic of the War on Terror. Ultimately, their hiding place would be discovered by a group of Afghan goat herders, and their position would be compromised when the squad commander, Murphy, ordered that the innocents be released, unharmed. This accidental event would bring dozens of Taliban fighters to a position of strength over the four SEALs. After a prolonged small arms battle, only Luttrell would remain alive, to be rescued several days later.

Death on the Mountainside

On this day, 28 June 2005, Lieutenant Michael Murphy would ultimately die on the side of that remote mountain in Afghanistan – far away from his Long Island, New York home. With no direct way to communicate with his superiors, and needing support from AC-130 gunships, Murphy was forced to climb into an exposed position to use a satellite phone. Many other SEALs and Night Stalkers would also perish trying to rescue their Special Forces brothers (which I will write about later).

For his actions there, “Murph” was awarded our Country’s highest military award – the Medal of Honor. He would also have an Arleigh Burke class U.S. Navy destroyer named in his honor.

The United States Navy – Medal of Honor

Murphy’s Medal of Honor citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as the leader of a special reconnaissance element with Naval Special Warfare Task Unit Afghanistan on 27 and 28 June 2005. While leading a mission to locate a high-level anti-coalition militia leader, Lieutenant Murphy demonstrated extraordinary heroism in the face of grave danger in the vicinity of Asadabad, Konar Province, Afghanistan.

Navy Seal – Lt. Michael P. Murphy

On 28 June 2005, operating in an extremely rugged enemy-controlled area, Lieutenant Murphy’s team was discovered by anti-coalition militia sympathizers, who revealed their position to Taliban fighters. As a result, between 30 and 40 enemy fighters besieged his four-member team. Demonstrating exceptional resolve, Lieutenant Murphy valiantly led his men in engaging the large enemy force. The ensuing firefight resulted in numerous enemy casualties, as well as the wounding of all four members of the team. Ignoring his own wounds and demonstrating exceptional composure, Lieutenant Murphy continued to lead and encourage his men. When the primary communicator fell mortally wounded, Lieutenant Murphy repeatedly attempted to call for assistance for his beleaguered teammates. Realizing the impossibility of communicating in the extreme terrain, and in the face of almost certain death, he fought his way into open terrain to gain a better position to transmit a call.

This deliberate heroic act deprived him of cover, exposing him to direct enemy fire. Finally achieving contact with his headquarters, Lieutenant Murphy maintained his exposed position while he provided his location and requested immediate support for his team. In his final act of bravery, he continued to engage the enemy until he was mortally wounded, gallantly giving his life for his country and for the cause of freedom. By his selfless leadership, courageous actions, and extraordinary devotion to duty, Lieutenant Murphy reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

USS Michael Murphy

USS Michael Murphy

The USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112), an Arleigh Burke Class destroyer, would have her keel laid down on June 18, 2010. Less than one year later, on May 7, 2011, the ship would be christened by Murphy’s mother, Maureen Murphy – on Murph’s birthday. The Michael Murphy would be commissioned in New York City on October 1, 2012 and would arrive in her home port, Naval Station Pearl Harbor, on November 21.

On this, the fourteenth anniversary of your untimely death, the Grey Beard Biker salutes you, “Murph!” Your heroism, leadership and tenacity are a tribute to you and the United States military. May you forever rest-in-peace, knowing a grateful nation honors your memory!

The Grey Beard Biker™️
gbb@TheGreyBeardBiker.com
@Biker4Life on Gab

This whiskery Grey Beard Biker always gets a chuckle from people’s reactions to us bikers. We are cut from a different cloth, molded from a different piece of clay. We don’t always fit neatly into a specific box. We are all different, but we are all alike. Some of us have beards, some of us don’t. Some of us have tattoos, some of us don’t. Some of us have long hair, some of us, like yours truly, have none – preferring a nice shaved head (bald is, after all, beautiful!). Some of us ride metric crotch rockets, some of us don’t. Some of us wear leather vests, some of us don’t. But our love for being on two wheels unites us.

The Brotherhood

What the non-riders, who look quizzically at us, do not understand is the brotherhood nearly all bikers share with each other. While we are not all members of a motorcycle club (M/C), we are all members of the same club. That member of a 1% motorcycle club, riding along a highway on his stripped down bobber, will pull over to help a fellow rider on a BMW adventure bike. He will not leave him/her stranded. That’s the way bikers act.

Biker Handshake

Yours truly can go into any biker bar, anywhere in the country, walk up to another biker, shake hands, embrace in a man-hug, slap him on the back and enjoy a beer with him. Even though we have never met before, we know each other. We may well come from different socio-economic backgrounds, but the differences between us don’t push us into different corners of the same room. Instead, we will belly-up to the same bar, swap stories from the road, talk about our children and grandchildren, customizations we have done to our bikes, where we rode the previous weekend and where we plan to ride next weekend. We may swap phone numbers so we can enjoy a future ride together. The chance encounter may well lead to a long-lasting friendship. But even if it doesn’t, every time we see each other while out riding, we will call each other brothers.

First Impressions Can be Deceiving

This Grey Beard, bald headed, tattooed biker cannot easily be defined by someone making a cursory glance at his exterior. He doesn’t dress the way he does to make an impression – or to be someone he is not. A stranger may well think I am a construction worker who toils all day in the sun and associates with “less than desirable” people by night. And while their “less desirable” people may well be who I choose to hang out with, I am not a construction worker.

What a quick cursory glance at me cannot tell an outsider is that like many other bikers, I am a business professional. I have been in the software industry for nearly 30 years. Since the mid-1990s I have flown all over North America for work. During this time, I have logged nearly 3 million miles on American Airlines and another 1 million on Delta Airlines. I cover my tattoos with a long-sleeved dress shirt, put on a suit and tie, go into a boardroom and present complex business solutions to a group of executives who inevitably have no idea what my true passion is: riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles and hanging out with my brothers and sisters. But your Grey Beard Biker is not unlike other bikers. His fellow bikers come from a wide variety of professions: lawyers, media executives, business owners, firefighters, cops, bankers, teachers, company presidents, soldiers, farmers, truck drivers, builders, bar owners, mechanics and yes – construction workers. But at the end of the day, what defines us is not our profession, but rather our brotherhood.

Bringing Together Different People

Without my love of riding, there are a lot of people I would never have come to know. This reminds me of a time, in July 2017, when your Grey Beard Biker was coming back from a ride along Lake Superior, the north woods and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I was on my last couple days of a 10-day vacation, and had taken the high speed ferry across Lake Michigan. No trip to Milwaukee is complete without a stop at the Harley-Davidson Museum, so I made a quick stop there, before I headed back to Tennessee the next day. After going through the museum, we decided to grab lunch at the on-site restaurant. Sitting at the bar, enjoying a barley-pop, I noticed a fellow rider next to us with Night Stalker patches on his vest. Being that we live in Clarksville, the home of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (S.O.A.R./Night Stalkers) we struck up a conversation with Bulldog. It turns out that Bulldog knew our next door neighbor, Monk, and had served with him. We swapped numbers with Bulldog and added each other on Facebook. This has turned into a truly wonderful friendship – brotherhood. Coincidental timing and our mutual love of riding brought us together.

This past April, somewhat at Bulldog’s urging, but in truth because I wanted to see Bulldog again, I scheduled a weeklong vacation to ride the Twisted Sisters in the Hill Country of Texas – Bulldog’s stomping grounds. All told, eight bikes and nine riders left Clarksville and made the journey to Kerrville, Texas – our home base for riding the Hill Country.

One of the riders on our trip had been a long time friend of Grey Beard on Facebook. We had only met a couple times in person – and to say our political views were not aligned would be a major understatement. I am sure my unnamed friend was a little apprehensive about riding with a group of bikers for a week, with very divergent views. All of us, enjoyed our time together and while we did talk politics, there was a mutual respect for each other’s views and beliefs. I later read that my unnamed friend expressed a bit of anxiety about the ride – but that he believed stepping outside his comfort zone would be good. I am sure he would agree that it was a great experience and he would do it all over again. This is what brotherhood is all about!

I will share one more coincidental meeting we had on this trip. The day after arriving in Kerrville, Bulldog had arranged a meeting with a fellow Night Stalker who was going to ride with us that week. Sam, as a retired Night Stalker, also knew my next door neighbor and served at Fort Campbell. We struck up a conversation at a biker bar the first day and it turns out that he lives 25 miles west of us and had made the same journey to Texas we did. We traveled over 1,000 miles for a coincidental meeting and live in adjacent counties! Two more bikers had just become brothers and friends. All of this, would never have happened without a mutual love for Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Final Thoughts

Grey Beard Biker has many brothers and sisters. He has met them during journeys all around the United States. These friendships will be enduring and will cause us to ride far and wide for “brotherhood reunions” – where we will meet new brothers and sisters. So I urge all people who look apprehensively at us bikers to do so with an open mind. We would inevitably help you out of a bind, we are perhaps the most generous single group of people with regards to charitable causes and when we are dressed in our business suits we are a lot more like you, than you would ever imagine – less, of course, the brotherhood.

The Grey Beard Biker™️
gbb@TheGreyBeardBiker.com
@Biker4Life on Gab

#NightStalkers #Brotherhood #NSNQ