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Police officers from across Eastern North Carolina escort more than 300 service members during the Live Hard, Ride Free motorcycle poker ride aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, May 2. The ride kicked off National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month aboard the base promoting responsible riding and the proper use of safety equipment.

Photo by Cpl. Joshua W. Grant

Live Hard, Ride Free; May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

8 May 2014 | Cpl. Joshua W. Grant

More than 300 service members and civilians took part in ‘Live Hard, Ride Free,’ a motorcycle poker ride hosted by the 2nd Marine Division to kick off National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, May 2.


The annual ride included service members from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Air Stations New River and Cherry Point, as well as Ft. Bragg and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, to promote safety and the importance of responsible riding.


During the event, motorcyclists practiced their safe riding as they traveled in groups to various locations in the area. At each stop the riders were given a card and at the end of the ride, the person with the best poker hand was deemed the winner.


This ride combines what the Motorcycle Mentorship Program presidents work so hard for into one ride to bring together everything the riders learned, said Gunnery Sgt. Stephen Phelps, assistant maintenance chief for 2nd Marine Division and organizer for the poker ride.


“When you get on a bike, it’s about having fun, but more importantly, it’s about safety,” said Phelps. “If you’re a new rider don’t just get on the bike and try stunts or drive recklessly, find a mentor. Find someone who has been riding for a while and learn from them so you can safely enjoy having two wheels rather than four.”


The Marine Corps has lost four of their own already to motorcycle accidents this year, said Phelps. Marines have to keep up their efforts to promote safety and responsible riding as much as possible to stay mission ready, he added.


The Motorcycle Mentorship Program was established as part of the commanding general’s policy letter 10-14, stating all units across Marine Corps Installations East with motorcycle riders will participate in meetings and mentorship rides to monitor each rider’s skill development.


Policy letter 10-14 is part of Marine Corps Order 5100.19F, which strictly sets guidelines to the proper use of motorcycles and states all the required training and personal protective equipment required for use aboard base.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded 4,612 motorcycle fatalities in 2011 throughout the country, accounting for 14 percent of highway deaths that year.

In 2013, North Carolina lost 147 motorcyclists to traffic accidents, a decrease of 7 percent from the previous year, said Don Nail, director of Governors Highway Safety Program for North Carolina.


“We hate to lose any motorcyclists,” said Nail. “But the reduction reinforces our emphasis on safety and accident prevention.”


Since 2008, Marine Corps Installations East has put more than 25,000 Marines through the Basic Rider’s Course and Advanced Rider’s Course, said Brig. Gen. Robert Castellvi, commanding general for Marine Corps Installations East and Camp Lejeune.


“The year 2008 can be called the high water mark for motorcycle accidents,” said Castellvi. “I’m proud of what the Marine Corps has done since then. The Marines bonded together and helped mentor each other. They corrected the behavioral issues associated with the cause of accidents and greatly reduced our number of motorcycle fatalities.”


The proper use of safety equipment is paramount as well as ensuring every service member remembers the fundamentals learned at the BRC, added Castellvi.

Basic riders courses are held aboard Camp Lejeune and Camp Johnson throughout the year.


For more information on the BRC and base safety, visit


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