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February 28, 2013A Wounded Warrior Rides Again!
This is a story that will truly inspire all—riders and non-riders alike. Sgt. Maj. Raymond H. Mackey (Ret.) lost both of his legs in 2009 while serving with the 3rd Battalion 10th Marine Regiment in Afghanistan. A veteran rider of over 35 years, some thought Mackey would never be able to ride again—but Mackey himself knew better. He was determined to get back on a bike.
Mackey’s story is an inspiration to many who look for real-life heroes. A fearless leader who accompanied his men on the field while most men of his rank generally stay off the front lines, Mackey stepped on the IED that took his legs while attempting to pull one of his soldiers out of a ditch. On February 13, three years since he miraculously survived the accident, Mackey mounted a brand-new, specially designed Harley Davidson Tri-Glide. It was a proud moment for the veteran, who admitted to having serious doubts early on about ever riding on the open road again. But his stubbornness pushed him toward his goal of riding again.
"I was always kind of stubborn," he explained to Cpl. Daniel Wulz of the Jacksonville Daily News. "People told me, ‘You can't be a Marine. You're too stubborn to be a Marine.’ I thought, ‘Yes I can. I'm going to be a Marine,’ So 30 years later, I have to retire and, now being a double amputee, I have people telling me, ‘You can't do that. You're a double amputee.’ I'm still thinking, ‘Yes, I can.’ So I hope in some way that I set an example, not just for other wounded warriors and amputees but for Marines. You can do the impossible.”
Florida-based Adaptive Cycling lent its engineering expertise to New River Harley Davidson in Jacksonville, N.C. to equip Mackey’s Tri-Glide with hand controls. Thanks to his intensive rehabilitation at Walter Reed Medical Center, the riding and combat veteran felt comfortable with the bike’s controls almost instantly. “We got along from the first moment we met and she didn't buck me off," Mackey said of the first time he rode the bike.
"At first all people initially see is the bike. Then they pull up closer and see I'm missing my legs and think, ‘Oh, that's awesome!’”
We think it’s awesome too. Everyone at Eagle Leather congratulates Sgt. Maj. Mackey and sends him and all of our combat veterans our sincerest gratitude for their service and sacrifice.