MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The crew from the television show “American Thunder,” a motorcycle-enthusiast program that airs on Speed TV, paid their respects to a Marine June 28-29 at New River Harley-Davidson.
“We came up with the idea of making-over a Marine’s Harley because we wanted to give back to the service members who are out fighting for our freedom,” said Jay Barbieri, project manager for American Thunder.
Choosing who would be the recipient of this make-over was a long process; there were certain things they were looking for, continued Barbieri.
“We wanted the recipient to be a wounded warrior and a Marine with a 2007 Harley-Davidson,” said Barbieri.
The Marine chosen for this opportunity was Staff Sgt. Nicholas Chaplin, an explosive ordnance disposal technician and Purple Heart recipient with Marine Corps Base EOD.
“I was blown away when I found out they chose my bike for show,” said Chaplin, a 28-year-old, Moundsville, W.Va. native. “It’s really awesome for ‘American Thunder’ to come out to New River Harley-Davidson and do this for me.”
“American Thunder” added more than $10,000 in donated parts with the help of Eric Ellis, editor of “Hot Bike” magazine and Dave Shaver, retired Marine and Harley-Davidson technician for New River Harley-Davidson.
“We had parts donated from Kuryakyn, Performance Machines, Mustang seats and New River Harley-Davidson,” said Barbieri.
As the first day of the two-day event progressed, old accessories peeled off into a parts bin and the chrome parts began to take their place on the 2007 Ultra Classic Electra Glide, Harley-Davidson Chaplin bought in April 2007.
“I replaced the old back wheel and tire with a new chrome rim and brand new tire and although it will be covered up by the saddle bags, it looked awesome on the bike,” said Shaver.
The new wheels and tires made the Harley stand out, but accounted for only a fraction of the of the cost donated for Chaplin’s bike.
The Harley may have looked inactive, but everything around it was full of life. Everyone got their hands on the action and at the end of the day the refurbished motocycle started to emerge.
The crew went back to work on the Harley’s front end Friday morning, determined to finish before a scheduled ride to the beach at 3 p.m.
As the deadline drew nearer, the team finished putting the motorcycle together and began preparing for the ride at the end of the day.
“It was great to see the finished product and also to see the excitement in Nick’s face,” said Barbieri. “I’m glad we could take the time to come out here to do this for him. It feels great to be able to give back to service members.”
Chaplin and more than 60 other bikers started up the engines of their Harley-Davidsons and began their cruise to Rick’s Bar and Grill, escorted by the Onslow police.
“I’m very pleased with the way the bike turned out; it was a great project and I’m glad we could do it for a wounded Marine,” concluded Barbieri.