FORT HOOD — Nearly 700 Fort Hood motorcycle riders came together Wednesday for the seventh Phantom Thunder Ride to promote rider safety.

“The primary purpose is to highlight safety and motorcycle mentorship,” said Col. Matthew Elledge, Fort Hood garrison commander. He also participated in the 40-mile ride that looped from Sadowski Field through Florence and back.

“It’s just a great time for all of us to get together, especially this time of year as we are coming up on Veterans Day,” Elledge said.

To honor the holiday, the ride made a stop at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery to lay a wreath and observe a moment of silence.

Staff Sgt. Frank Robbins, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, participated in the Thunder Ride for the second time and said this year’s stop at the cemetery was important.

“A lot of us have been deployed a number of times,” he said. “This holiday weekend it’s important to take a step back and honor those that went before us and the sacrifice they made.”

Before kickstands went up, 89th Military Police Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Peter Ladd spoke on the importance of safety during the ride, as well as when riding alone.

“It’s no fun surviving 12 months in combat to die on the streets of Central Texas,” he said.

Ladd also thanked Fort Hood leadership for hosting such an event during the duty day.

“We do Army business during Army time,” he said. “This is a training event, and it shows the level of commitment that our senior leaders have.”

Pfc. Caden Lowry, III Corps, has had his bike for about a year and said the mentor rides are a great way to reiterate safety precautions, including those enforced by the Army and Fort Hood.

“They have our interests in mind, because it makes us a lot more visible on the road,” he said of the bright vests Fort Hood requires soldiers wear when riding on and off post.

While educational, the group rides are also a lot of fun, Lowry said.

“It’s a thrill with all the bikes around you.”

Contact Rose L. Thayer at or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

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