A Tribute to a soldier


GB Wheatley. Jump school, Ft Bragg North Carolina

My son Brandon bought his first bike about a year ago. It was a used bike we got for a little of nothing from a friend who has helped us keep it running. The seller also offered to paint it for us. This turned into a custom job including adding fabricated saddle bags.
My father died three months before my son’s birth. Brandon has always been fascinated with his paternal grandfather, especially his military career. He decided to turn the bike into a tribute to Dad.

When our friend Charles saw the olive drab paint Brandon had picked out, he turned pea green himself.  He groused and complained about the color, but dutifully got to work. He helped us get decals and did the fabricating required to mount the ammo cans as saddle bags. He spent days sanding out imperfections I couldn’t see, feel, or imagine. I can still see him holding out the fender asking apologetically, “Do you think this is good enough?”
“I’d have had paint on that thing three days ago.” I told him.
The bike came together and Brandon finally got to take it on a ride. Everywhere we go people come up to us and ask about it. The pipe that was on it was just that. A straight pipe coming off the exhaust port on the cylinder head. Brandon replaced that with something like a glass pack. It’s still LOUD, and it is going to backfire every time you kill the engine. Wow, an army bike that sounds like a howitzer.
Bikes with one cylinder like this are often referred to as “Thumpers.” Brandon took that moniker and ran with it designing a logo he wants to put on as a decal.
Most bikers I’ve talked too have fond memories of their first bike. There’s little doubt that Brandon will never forget Thumper. He’s says he’ll never sell it. You know, I don’t think he ever will.

— Guy Wheatley

Thumper logo for Brandon's bike.

Thumper logo for Brandon's bike.

Brandon's Suzuki Savage

Brandon's Suzuki Savage

2 Responses

  1. Josh Says:

    This is amazing! I have the exact same bike, and have been thinking about doing something similar. Do you have any other pics you could post/send? I’d love to see more, and hear more about how he did it.


  2. Victor McMillan Says:

    I enjoyed seeing the picture of the staff sargent at jump school. I also went to jump school at Ft. Bragg in October of 59. He was obviously in his last week with the parachutes on and the rifle sack. And he was also sitting down. Something not allowed during the first 3 weeks. Fond memories indeed. vic

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