Every year I ride to DC to meet my friends and the founders of the Rolling Thunder to remember our POW/MIA (Prisoners of War & Missing in Action). This is the 33rd year that I’ve made the ride but this trip was extra special because I rode with a friend. Not just the friends who rode their motorcycles with me but a friend I took with me. Last week I flew to Houston, Texas for the funeral and Memorial service of Captain Alfred G. Platt, a patriot, a war hero, one of the smartest and most interesting people I’ve ever known, and who I’ve had the privilege of calling my friend for over 30 years!
Fred’s accomplishments and awards are too numerous to mention from the Silver Star, 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, 3 Purple Hearts and many more honors. He flew in Vietnam and in “The Secret War” in Laos as a FAC, in a small O-1 “Bird Dog” bringing in air strikes. Fred didn’t just bring in air strikes though, he flew so close to targets he was shot down 11 times. The last time he broke his neck and after a year in hospitals he was medically retired, but that didn’t stop Fred.
Always in pain with wires hooked up to his back, so he could sleep, Fred lived a life of service to his country and his fellow warriors. He was Commander of China Post 1 of the American Legion and was dedicated as well to his fellow Raven FACs and still had time to do many other important things. There were hundreds at his funeral from all over the country and all over the world! His ashes will be spread in places far and wide from The Mekong Delta to some more notorious places, and I’ve been blessed to have been allowed to take some with me to The Wall!
Fred never stopped fighting, which is the hallmark of a warrior; he always believed in this country and he knew the warfighters didn’t lose in Vietnam, the politicians did, as usual. So, I think he’ll like being in the company of heroes who gave their lives and I know they’ve welcomed him. My only regret is that I didn’t spend more time with my friend Fred Platt, but I enjoyed our meaningful ride together, so hopefully he has found himself in the company of so many other great American heroes he’ll be able to comfortably rest in peace! Well probably not; you see Fred wasn’t just involved with the things he believed in, he was committed, and he always will be!
As I look back over the years I see the struggles to survive as the most prevalent human condition.
Throughout all the history I ever learned about it’s always been the suffering of people through famine or disease or the oppression of tyrants and power hungry leaders from Kings to Czars to the Islamists and Dear Leaders of today that leads to constant and ongoing warfare.
There is nothing that is clearer or more obvious about the human condition than the fact that if you are not prepared for war you will be taken over by a stronger people who are. It’s not about fear, it’s about not being stupid and vulnerable. There will always be nations or as in today’s barbaric war by Islamists against our civilization, savages, who will destroy us if we aren’t able to destroy them. So why then are we as a nation not building our military instead of allowing its deterioration as we did during the Clinton years and for the last 7+ years of Barack Obama?
We should be restoring our defenses to their mightiest capabilities, taking care of our vets better than our Congressmen, and teaching our children that it’s irresponsible not to be capable of defending themselves. I see Memorial Day as a day to begin reflecting on those who are serving us now and our responsibility to them and their families to make sure they have everything they need to do their job, that they are respected, not just by a few gestures of fellow citizens but by the entire nation who must understand that peace without victory is just an illusion.
As I do every year when I make the ride, I thought about how much we owe and how that debt can only be repaid by honoring what it was that they paid for; the honor and the wellbeing of our nation and the idea of freedom that America was founded upon, with a great reverence for our Creator. One nation under God, also means a nation that must be willing to fight to protect the gifts we’ve been blessed with, a gift of ideas that are worth fighting for, voting for, and working for!
It’s also meaningful to me and my family that we have riders who’ve been with us for many years who we can communicate with from time to time not just to ask you for your business, but to thank you and to just talk about riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and not just what we ride or where we ride but why we ride. Sometimes it’s not easy to define that, but I knew exactly why I ride the minute I thought of taking Fred with me, because I know he’d love the freedom of riding a Harley across this great country as much as I do, with our shared passion of being American!
Hope you had a wonderful and meaningful Memorial Day!
Written by, New York Myke
San Diego Harley-Davidson Owner, Patriot and Veteran Advocate