Jack’s Ride


By Joyce Ervin

It was an exciting time on Lewis Street recently, when friends, neighbors and more than 65 bikers gathered to give 99-year-old former motorcyclist and WW II veteran, Jack McClary a ride.  The occasion was dubbed, “Jack’s ride”.
Neighbor, Mark Taylor, organized the event via Facebook seeking a rider who had a side car bike. As the search continued, more and more bikers joined the lineup.  Then, up stepped driver, Dan ‘Grizz’ Kofahl  of Clinton, with his Indian Vintage 2016 Willow, bike.    The ride began!
Before McClary made his trek from the house to the bike parked at the curb, he said he would probably be traveling about 25 miles per hour.  Well, showing more spunk than most, he was settled into the side car and made the ride to Tecumseh traveling with a police escort at approximately 55 miles per hour.
How did he fare?  After reaching the Harley Davidson Dealership, where he was presented with a Harley Davidson ball cap courtesy of HOG (Harley Owners Group) he was asked if he would like to ride home in the car.  His response was an emphatic, “No.”
McClary owned and rode an Indian motorcycle upon his return from the war.  He and his late wife, Betty, rode all over Ann Arbor and Chicago, when they resided there.
Taylor said he would visit with his neighbor McClary, and sharing a love of motorcycles, he decided to see that his friend got a ride.  Particularly since McClary, who was honored by Foundation 14, a 501 c -3 non-profit that is dedicated to putting combat veterans on motorcycles as therapy recently honored him.  But, he didn’t get the ride he expected.
The silver lining may be that the ride organized by Taylor showed McClary just how much his longevity, and service to his country means to the citizens of Milan.
There was much fanfare before takeoff.  Mayor Dominic Hamden thanked McClary for his service and told him he was about to do something that his wife would not allow, “And that was to ride a motorcycle.”  Much laughter ensued.
Pastor Jason, an ex-marine, was joined in prayer asking for a safe journey.  Milan Police officers, Sgt. Justo Burgos and Officer Jake Prusaitis, took McClary through intersections to Tecumseh with lights flashing.
It was an awesome sight to see the bikers ride away with precision reminiscent of lined up toy soldiers.  Independent riders and those from area motorcycle clubs participated.  To mention a few, Abate Region 14, Tecumseh Hog Chapter, American Legion Riders Post 97 of Adrian and Foundation 14 riders.
McClary said he wanted to feel the wind on his face like he did 40-plus years ago, when he rode his own Indian.  Taylor saw that wish was granted and was pleased that nearly 70 motorcyclists joined him to make it happen saying, “The response was overwhelming.”
McClary came to Milan in the early 1950s to work at the University of Michigan.  He is a member of the VFW Chapter 423 in Ann Arbor, and Peoples Presbyterian Church in Milan.  He is also an active member at the Milan Senior Center.
 McClary served in the Third Army as an officer teaching artillery to gunners in North Africa receiving a Bronze Star.  A humble man, when asked if he was a war hero, he shook his head and said, “NO”.
Neighbor, friend and former City Councilman, Brett Moyer, made a video of the event.  You can view the video on You Tube, titled “Jack’s Ride”.  Visit https://youtu.be/7L7oSGULeHg.

Joyce Ervin is a freelance writer reporting on Milan.  She can be contacted at:  jlervin42 [at] yahoo [dot] com.

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