To say Saturday, June 11th was a warm day would have been an understatement. Even with the temperatures well into the 90-degree mark, no amount of heat would have stopped the dedicated group of riders who gathered on that day from all over the country as far away as Tennessee for this year’s 24th Annual Fallen Heroes Memorial Ride. For the past 24 years, members of the Fire Hogs, along with a dedicated staff of volunteers, staffers, and corporate supporters have gathered to honor and remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. This year was no exception. Registration started nice and early at Mulholland Harley Davidson located at 24050 Ventura Blvd. in Calabasas. Hundreds of bikes filled the parking lot as organizers finalized the day’s events in preparation for the ride. Grand Marshall Frank Kramer from KLOS’ morning show “Heidi and Frank” started the festivities off by saying a few words, followed by a word of thanks and encouragement from Fire Hogs President Jack Wise. Jack thanked all in attendance and introduced the LAFD Fire Hogs’ Board of Directors as well as the other Grand Marshall, Frankie Loyal from the hit series “The Mayans.”
In the background, Armando Diaz and family went about the furious task of handling the sale of t-shirts and other items up for grabs. LAFD Honor Guard next made their presence known by marching in with their usual professional style, the flags carried in-hand whisking back and forth in the warm morning breeze. Not to be overshadowed, the LAFD Pipes and Drums followed close behind, the tone of the instruments getting the crowds enthusiastic about the day’s event. Coming to attention, the Honor Guard saluted the colors as recording artist and song writer Katie Shorey sang a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem.
A solemn moment followed as the survivors of those who have passed were recognized and presented flowers by the LAFD Fire Hogs Board of Directors.
After the period of silence, LA City Councilman, Bob Blumenfield presented Certificates of Recognition from Mayor Garcetti, the 45th Assembly District, and Jesse Gabriel, Council District 3 to the Fire Hogs M/C and their sponsors for their commitment to the service of our community and their efforts to support the fallen. LA City Councilman Retired, Dennis Zine, gave his own touching speech to the crowd of onlookers with an announcement of a personal donation of $1000, truly a supporter of our fallen! Then Diana Wilson, CEO of the West Valley-Warner Chamber of Commerce presented the Fire Hogs with a Certification of Recognition for 24 years of providing support to the Los Angeles Widows, Orphans, and Disabled Firefighters fund. These accolades really caught the Board off guard and caused us to almost lose our place in the itinerary.
Jack introduced Union President Freddy Escobar and thanked him for UFLAC’s continued support of the Fire Hogs. Freddy had great things to say about the “Hogs” and even told a story or two about his early days of soccer with Jack.
Adam Van Gerpen did double duty, representing the Union and also photographing the event along with David Blaire, who once again stepped up and volunteered his time to help out the Relief Association with his skill of capturing the perfect shot.
Command 42, Assistant Chief Corey Rose also attended the event and spoke on behalf of the Department thanking the Fire Hogs for their ongoing work in support of the Relief and its members. The Relief Association’s own Diane Vigil and Gene Bednarchik also spoke on the Association’s behalf. Gene was able to use his past experience and connections and draw the attention of the Valley Professional Network to the event. They generously donated $1700.00 to the cause.
Every year, ten bells ring out from the ceremonial bell brought on site. This year Suzanne Farrell (survivor of Fire Hog Pete Goff) did the honor in remembrance of the fallen.
Well, no ride could start without the blessing of the bikes which was conducted by LAFD Department Chaplain Roger Fowble who also happened to be last year’s winner of the Harley Davidson Motorcycle.
After the blessing and a quick safety message, the 300 motorcycles set off down the freeway to Agoura and to cooler weather at the beach! What a sight it was to see the riders in staggered formation traveling the beautiful mountain roads towards the beach. I can tell you that once we crested the mountains and started downhill to the coast it was like a breath of fresh COOL air and what a relief. Once on the coast, the group traveled back to our destination of the Sagebrush Cantina via Malibu Canyon and Mulholland Drive.
Once entering the Sagebrush Cantina, the party was already in full swing with the Eric Turner Band laying down some classic rock tunes and the Sagebrush staff cantering to the taco bar and other libations. Grand Marshalls Frank Kramer was there with his family as well as Frankie Loyal and his crew. The Valley Professional Network was there as well. Motorcycle Clubs and Groups included all 5 chapters of the Fire Hogs M/C, Golden State, and Mulholland Hogs Chapters, Iron Spartans LE M/C, Punishers LE M/C, Iron Brotherhood LE M/C, Hallowed Few LE M/C, Gunslingers LE M/C, Society of Riders M/C, The Company Riding Group, and many others I’m failing to remember.
Many door prizes were given away prior to the big show at 1400 hrs. At 1400hrs, KLOS’s Frank Kramer started drawing the first of the 40 raffle prizes and announcing the 20 silent auction prizes. It was awesome to hear his spin on each prize and those collecting them, true firefighter humor especially when he and his family won! After that the live auction started for the Jim Vels custom painted fire hydrant, and what a beautiful work of art. The bidding was lively but the final bid from Frank Kramer was no match for the rest of the bidders. Once again Jim worked his magic on creating a piece of art that should be in a museum for all to see. Thank you, Jim, for sharing your talent to benefit others. Over 60 great gifts were auctioned and raffled off and numerous door prizes were given out. Our hope was that everyone walked away from the event with something, including a great time! Julio Maldonado and Dane Jackson received the Stami Challenge award for most cash and prizes brought in.
Now what motorcycle event would be complete without a motorcycle attorney being present? Thank you to Randie Raige from the law offices of Russ Brown—The Motorcycle Attorney for making it to the ride. Just in case you saw a bike at the event that you couldn’t live without, representatives from Firefighters First Credit Union were in attendance and were more than willing to answer any questions one may have—thank you Margie and Pam for your service and donations.
LAFD Station 105 and LA County Fire Engine 65 also honored the crowd with their presence. Thank you to both crews for taking time out of their busy day to be part of such a wonderful event.
Special thanks to The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles County Fire Department for their time and professionalism while providing traffic control and keeping all in attendance safe. Thanks also goes out to Mulholland Harley Davidson and Jenn who supported this event in every way possible; to the supplier of the sound system, Armando Diaz; and Russ Brown for contributing the caffeine and coffee to keep all the riders alert on the road. A big thanks goes to the Sagebrush Cantina, our home away from home, for making this year’s event another huge success; George and Monica Hernandez for their beautiful gift baskets and their crew that helped with the raffle; and Gary and Shari Marshall for the beautiful, airbrushed plaque they donated.
Lastly, to the event sponsors Tom Lindstrom RV, Costa Highridge Builders, Western Extrication Specialist, Lewis, Marenstein, Wicke, Sherwin & Lee, Fire Fighters First Credit Union, Strausser and Sherman IOD Lawyers, Lupita’s Bakery, Galpin Motors, Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys, United Firefighters Union Local 112, Valley Professional Business Owners Group, Paratus Insurance Services, Former City Council Member and retired LAPD Officer Dennis Zine, and to our Grand Marshalls Frank Kramer, and Frankie Loyal. We want to also thank the Los Angeles Fire Department for supporting this event by providing the LAFD Color Guard, Chaplin, and LAFD Pipes and Drums. And most importantly the numerous volunteers and members from all the Chapters who assisted in this effort without your attendance and support, this event would not have been possible. Thank you and see you all next year when the rubber meets the road!
MARK YOUR CALENDAR FOR THE UPCOMING DON SHAWVER MEMORIAL RIDE & PETE GOFF BIKER GAMES ON OCT 15, 2022, AND THE 25TH ANNUAL FALLEN HEROES’ MEMORIAL RIDE ON JUNE 10, 2023! HOPE TO SEE YA THERE.
PLEASE GO TO THE EVENT’S FACEBOOK PAGE TO DOWNLOAD PICTURES AND VIDEOS: https://www.facebook.com/Fallen-Heroes-Memorial-Ride-107161414921492 AND AT https://www.flickr.com/photos/48795888@N08/albums/72177720299762797
Members wishing more information on becoming a Fire Hog and information on upcoming events go to our website at www.Firehogs.org. Join us on Facebook @ Fire Hogs M/C LAFD
By Jack Wise