THUNDER XXV U.S. MARINE CORPS TRIBUTE BIKE - BRIGITTE
BOURGET, BOURGET'S BIKE WORKS
Introduction and Dedication
When Jay Allen asked me to be a part
of the Rolling Thunder XXV Tribute bike project I
was honored and accepted on the spot. During Arizona
Bike Week 2011 Jay delivered the donated S&S Flathead
Power Panhead motor to my shop and told me to pick
a branch of the military. There was no question that
I would pay tribute to the U.S. Marine Corps. The
hard core, live by the sword, die by the sword mentality
of the Marines has always hit home with me.
One Marine in particular, Corporal Byron
Hall of State College, PA was the driving force and
inspiration for my project. Byron or "Pap"
as I knew him, was a 2nd generation US Marine and
his sons and their sons willingly followed in his
footsteps and carried on the Hall legacy of serving
in the US Marine Corps. Byron's grandson is currently
deployed in Afghanistan and we ask for prayers for
his safety and well being. Byron was born to be a
Marine, entering this world on Veterans Day, November
11, 1935. Byron served in the U.S. Marine Corps from
1955-1963 in Perris Island, NC and Camp Lejeune, NC.
his service with the Marines as a Corporal, Byron
went on to lead a long and distinguished career in
law enforcement serving as a Chief of Police, Chief
Deputy Sheriff and a Dept. of Corrections officer
in the State College, PA area. Byron loved motorcycles
and passed the love of them on to his son Chris who
he later worked for at Extreme Custom Cycles in State
I had the pleasure of having "Pap"
answer the phone when I would call and he always had
a joke or a story to tell and loved to visit so much
that you couldn't get off the phone with him very
easily. In 2008 "Pap" started having some
health issues and wasn't able to work as hard anymore
and I only got to visit with him on special occasions
when he would just "happen in" to Extreme
and just happen to pick up the phone. Those occasions
became fewer and farther in between and as God calls
all of his children home at some point, he took Byron
home on April 17, 2012. It is with great sadness that
we say goodbye and we will surely miss him, but an
angel is surely watching over us now. In loving memory
of Byron "Pap" Hall, and in your honor Bourget's
dedicates the Rolling Thunder XXV U.S. Marine Corps
Tribute Bike. Oorah!
I would like to thank Bourget's sponsors
in helping to bring to life the U.S. Marine Corps
tribute bike. In addition to S&S Cycle donating
the Panhead motor, Baker Drivetrain graciously provided
us with their "Frankentranny". The Frankentranny
is a retro style 6 speed Transmission with a Kicker.
Rivera/Primo was more than happy to come aboard as
well and we thank them for graciously donating a Primo
Brute III closed belt drive clutch assembly. Additional
BBW Sponsors include Bourget Dealers - Bourget's of
Rochester - Rochester, NY, Extreme Custom Cycles -Pleasant
Gap, PA, and Brian Horstmann - Sinthium Kustom Paint,
Inc. - Phoenix, AZ.
In addition to my Sponsors I would also
like to most importantly thank Moots McDonagh and
Michael Lininger for driving 40 hours non-stop from
Phoenix, AZ to Washington DC to safely deliver the
U.S. Marine Corps tribute bike. Without them this
would not have been possible.
I huge thank you goes out to each
and every one of my guys -this was an incredible project
for all of us to be a part of. I am very proud of
the end result and have you guys to thank for not
only putting my ideas into motion but sharing your
input and your talents. We at BBW are a lot like the
Marines, we are a great team and no matter what is
thrown at us, we succeed. Thank you Moots, Brent,
Shoe, Evan, Bill, John, Michael, Chad, Gordon, Glen,
Ben, Wilkes, Dave, Jason, Lee, Chuck, Jorge, Salvadore
and Felipe. Mission Accomplished!
Research and Development
With the decision made to build the
U.S. Marine Corps tribute bike and the commitment
of the sponsors in place, I was now faced with the
tough decision of what to build to truly honor what
these great men and women represent and to pay tribute
to them in a way they won't forget. Without the service
and sacrifice of these selfless warriors and that
of their families at home, we would not enjoy the
freedoms we are blessed with and life as we know it
would not exist. My team and I would certainly not
be able to do what we do.
I needed to build something to go with
the vintage drive train but that has never really
been my style so this would present a nice challenge.
I wanted to tie in the U.S. Marine Corps with the
Rolling Thunder XXV event which honors all veterans
but is centered around the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
It had to convey respect and honor to the U.S. Marine
Corps and be a show piece for all the world to see.
I had some serious research to do not only on 1960's
era choppers but on the U.S. Marine Corps itself.
After much research, I knew what I wanted to do and
presented the idea to Jay to get his approval and
then we went for it!
Bourget's has built many a theme
bike over the last 19 years and we do it well. This
tribute bike had to be different and special and to
pull it off I had to get inside the head of a Marine.
On behalf of my fabulous BBW crew and myself, Brigitte
Bourget, we present to you our version of a Vietnam
Vet - US Marine's hand built/homemade Panhead Chopper
- the Bourget's Rolling Thunder XXV U.S. Marine Corps
The Story Behind the Bike
By Brigitte Bourget May, 2012
I am a Corporal in the United States
Marine Corps. I am my father's legacy and my mother's
baby boy. I am a Red Blooded American, a "Biker"
and am the proud of owner of a Panhead Chopper that
I customized myself. Now this
Chopper, she's not real shiny or very fancy but she's
paid for, sounds good, runs good, gets me where I
want to go and if I said chicks didn't dig her, I'd
It's 1962 and I have just received orders
and am being deployed to Vietnam. You might think
I'm scared and feel sorry for me. Did you hear me
say I am a Marine? This is what I live for, this is
what I signed on for and I will go there guns blazing,
kicking ass and taking names. I get my affairs in
order, say what I hope is not my last goodbye to my
Mom and Dad, and store my beloved Chopper in the barn
on the family farm. I am off to do my duty to my God
and Country, to fight for the freedoms of the citizens
of the United States of America. My fellow Marines
and I will pray daily for our safety, knowing that
ultimately our lives are in God's hands now.
I see things and do things while in
the hell on earth they call Vietnam that you could
not imagine in your worst nightmare. I am alive but
many of my brothers that came here with me have been
sent home in a flag draped pine box, 58,220 of them
to be exact. I get word that I am going home, my tour
of duty is done and while I may be alive a part of
my soul has died. I am not the same person. My injuries
may not be visible to you because I am a Marine, I
show no weakness and I wear my scars on the inside.
People like you will never understand that the casualties
of war don't always come home dead.
I finally set foot on U.S. soil again,
a changed, hardened man. Society keeps their distance
from me because they do not understand me and though
I am not the enemy, they fear me. The very people
I sacrificed everything for disrespect me and blame
me for doing my job because they enjoy their freedom
of speech. There is no welcome parade, no show of
respect, this doesn't feel like home anymore. I feel
out of place, like I don't fit in here and I'm uncomfortable
in my own skin. The stress of combat follows me still,
the fighting plays over and over again in my mind
like a movie that never ends. I can not decompress.
I spent years fighting for freedom and I feel trapped
like a caged animal. I have to do something, I have
to get out of here, put some distance between me and
My neglected Chopper and I have been
apart far too long. She is the only way out of my
own head and the only woman who needs nothing from
me, especially not tenderness or emotion. I drag her
out of the barn, replace her dry-rotted tires, dead
battery and drain out the old smelly gas that's turned
to turpentine. She's good as new and ready to roll
and we hit the road as one, with no particular destination
I ride hard, fast and free. I follow
the road where it leads, picking up a souvenir, a
burger & a beer, and if I'm in the mood a girl
for the night, but never for the road. I don't know
where I'm going to end up or when I'm going to get
there and that is the freedom I've longed for, that
is what has been missing. This is finally what it
feels like to be free. No restrictions, no constraints,
no bombs, no blood, no death and no battles. This
is the feeling I fought for, the freedom I was willing
to sacrifice life and limb for you and your families
and your friends to enjoy. How do you not understand?
How can you disrespect and dishonor me when you take
for granted that you sleep in a warm bed in a safe
house after a fine meal? How can you be so stupid?
How can you be so heartless?
The more miles I put behind me, the
better I feel. I am becoming less caged animal and
more human being. I am riding the demons out, clearing
my head, finding myself again, all behind the bars
of my beloved Chopper. This machine is saving my life
one mile at a time. I am realizing as I put the pieces
of my soul back into place and start to relax in my
own skin again that there are some people out there
who show me honor and respect. Men who give me a solemn
salute and women and children who smile and wave as
I make my way down the main streets of small town
America. Citizens of this great land who are willing
to shake my hand, thank me for my service and say
As I make my way across this great
country and the demons inside me slowly die, I realize
there are those that care, who are not stupid in the
ways of war, and those who will never truly know but
can dare to imagine themselves in the battles I fought
in Vietnam. No one but a fellow serviceman can understand
the war I fight inside myself and am trying hard to
win, but I realize that is what sets us soldiers apart.
There are those fellow Americans who appreciate the
sacrifice my fellow soldiers and I and made for you
and your families. There are those including myself
who will always show gratitude for those who served
who've passed before me and those that will follow
in my footsteps. They are the American People who
understand that behind the harsh exterior, the rough
personality, the tattoos, and the scars that I am
One of the Few, The Proud, The Marines.
The Bourget's U.S. Marine Corps tribute
bike was built by those who are honored by and grateful
for the service and sacrifice of all of our U.S. Soldiers
and their families, past, present and future. With
the pledge to always show the utmost respect and the
promise of undying dignity to our servicemen and women,
it is my great honor to have been a part of the Rolling
Thunder XXV Military Bike Tribute Project.
U.S. MARINE CORPS COMMEMORATIVE
U.S. MARINE CORPS OFFICIAL COLORS OF
SCARLET AND GOLD ARE FEATURED PROMINENTLY THROUGHOUT
THE OFFICIAL U.S. MARINE CORPS LOGO
FEATURING THE EAGLE, GLOBE AND ANCHOR IS FEATURED
ON THE BELT GUARD.
THE U.S. MARINE CORPS WAS FOUNDED ON NOVEMBER 10,
1775 IN PHILADELPHIA, PA. 194 YEARS LATER BRIGITTE
BOURGET WAS BORN ON NOV 10TH.
THE OFFICIAL U.S. MARINE CORPS MOTTO
SEMPER FIDELIS OR "SEMPER FI" FOR SHORT,
MEANING "ALWAYS LOYAL" OR "ALWAYS FAITHFUL".
THE U.S. MARINE VIETNAM VETERAN AND
POW-MIA PATCHES ARE SIGNIFICANT TO THE ROLLING THUNDER
TRIBUTE AND RIDE TO THE VIETNAM MEMORIAL WALL AND
OF THE MISSION OF THE ROLLING THUNDER ORGANIZATION.
THE U.S. MARINE CORPS CORPORAL PATCH
FEATURED ON THE TANK IS IN HONOR OF BYRON HALL ENDED
HIS TERM OF ENLISTMENT WITH THE CORPS AS A CORPORAL.
THE GADSDEN FLAG HAD TO BE INCORPORATED
INTO OUR TRIBUTE BIKE. THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL FLAG
WITH YELLOW FIELD DEPICTING A RATTLESNAKE COILED AND
READY TO STRIKE WAS DESIGNED BY AND NAMED AFTER AMERICAL
GENERAL CHRISTOPHER GADSDEN. THE GADSDEN FLAG IS THE
FIRST FLAG EVER CARRIED INTO BATTLE BY THE U.S. MARINE
CORPS DURING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.
THE OFFICIAL MASCOT -THE ENGLISH BULLDOG
IS FEATURED AS WELL. IN WWI THE GERMANS NICKNAMED
THE U.S. MARINES "TEUFEL HUNDEN" MEANING
BOURGET'S U.S. MARINE CORPS TRIBUTE BIKE
FOR ROLLING THUNDER XXV
2012 BOURGET'S BOBBER CHASSIS
ENGINE: S&S FLATHEAD
POWER PANHEAD (1956-1964)
TRANSMISSION: BAKER 6
SPEED KICKER "FRANKENTRANNY"
BRUTE III CLUTCH BBW CONVERSION TO OPEN BELT STYLE
FRONT END: BBW WIDE GLIDE
WHEELS: BBW "INVADER"
STYLE WITH MATCHING ROTORS AND CHAIN SPROCKET
FRONT: 21X3.50 WHEEL
W/AVON 120-70-21 TIRE
REAR: 17X5.50 REAR W/DUNLOP
EXHAUST: BBW PANHEAD
2/1 WITH FISHTAIL END CAP
SHEET METAL: BBW BOBBER
STYLE GAS TANK DENTS WERE ADDED TO THE TANK FOR AUTHENTICITY
BBW FLAT STYLE REAR FENDER W/SISSY BAR
CONTROLS: BBW FLOORBOARD
FWD CONTROLS MISC. BBW BILLET TRIPS TREES, GRIPS,
AXLE COVERS, ETC.
SEAT: BBW VINTAGE DISTRESSED
LEATHER TO MATCH LEATHER SADDLE BAGS
MARINE CORPS TRIBUTE THEME DONE BY SINTHIUM KUSTOM
WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE CHROME HANDLEBARS AND SISSY
BAR, ALL OF THE REMAINING COMPONENTS WERE HAND FINISHED
TO MATCH THE NATURAL CAST FINISH OF THE S&S ENGINE
AND THE BAKER TRANSMISSION