By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
Phantom Thunder rolled down Bell County highways Friday afternoon in an effort to promote motorcycle safety and recognize the upcoming Veterans Day.
More than 1,000 riders, including 275 special guest riders from the Patriot Guard and the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, participated in a 60-mile ride around the Fort Hood area. Participants, led by Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, III Corps and Fort Hood commander, started at Hood Stadium and made a stop at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery for a short Veterans Day ceremony.
The route then wound around Stillhouse Hollow Lake before ending back at Fort Hood.
"Phantom Thunder is not only about safe riding practices and encouraging others to do the same but also about having fun," Lynch said in a letter to the Fort Hood and Central Texas community.
Motorcycle safety has been a key issue for Lynch since he took command four months ago at Fort Hood. He instituted motorcycle safety policies, which included stricter mentorship programs and requiring riders to present Motorcycle Safety Foundation cards before riding onto Fort Hood.
Many of the Patriot Guard and Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association riders are veterans. Lynch said to them in an address at Hood Stadium before the ride that the soldiers in uniform next to them would continue the legacy of honor and service.
Today's soldiers are welcomed back with open arms, but many veterans didn't have that same opportunity, he said.
Friday's event came as local communities prepared to honor veterans in their own ways. Ceremonies from Gatesville to Copperas Cove to Temple are planned, all with participation from active-duty Fort Hood soldiers.
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7547.