An Army Motorcycle Writes To Uncle Sam

From the May 1942 issue of Motorcyclist Magazine

Dear Uncle:

I’m an Army motorcycle and I’m really enlisted in this thing for the duration.

But, Uncle-for a long time I’ve been wanting to write you and tell you that I’ve a lot of talents that you haven’t used.

I’m not just a gasoline carrier pigeon, Uncle; I’m fast and reliable and useful.

I know you don’t think so. Probably most of that comes from a failure to understand what I am capable of. In the main you’ve assigned me to outfits just because it kinda seems that every outfit should have a few motorcycles. And they just more or less “had” me and after some head scratching decided that I was a Western Union boy dressed up in a pair of sparkplugs. Then you’ve given me a pilot but you didn’t do any sort of a job in training him. And to keep me going after my pilot broke me up you had me worked on by chaps who didn’t understand what made me tick. And, to finish it up, you didn’t give them the things that made me tick right-like the proper sparkplugs and the proper oil-all those things on which I thrive.

So-now I hear them talking here and there-talking behind my back.

I’m good, Unc-real good. Not as a substitute for a carrier pigeon but as a keen edged weapon of offensive warfare. You didn’t know that, did you?

You didn’t know that I can go almost anywhere a man can walk-fast! Or that a trained pilot can take me through a trackless forest or up a pathless hill. If his shoulders can fit through without turning sideways-I can take him there-fast! And you didn’t know that the mud can be almost bottomless and I can still get there fast-if my pilot knows his business. You see, I do these things every day in the year during peacetimes. But my men know their business.

And it’s so easy to train them for that business. You have young men; lusty, vital youngsters who have that spark of adventure that would enable them to do unrealized things with me-if only they were trained!

You could take fifteen hundred of those men-1500 husky, restless youngsters in the same uniform I am wearing. You’d discard possibly better than a third of them before they got too far. But-under the guidance of men who knew that business, Uncle, you’d get yourself a thousand or so boys that no enemy command of roads could cause to turn a hair.

And simply because they wouldn’t need roads of any character. Their training and my ability could make a boulevard out of a footpath and a knoll out of any mountain that wasn’t straight up!

Those boys would be good!

They could run in formation across deep sand at better than a mile a minute. There’s a little trick in getting me to do this, but it’s a breeze if you know it-and those boys would know it-if they had a few months intensive training!

I’m reliable, too. I’ll run day and night if you’ll only want me to run. I don’t need much in the line of work. I need only knowledge. Not of the automobile kind-after all your aircraft men are specialists, too-but of the motorcycle kind. And I need only a few of those men. You didn’t know this but just to pop a statistic at you-two experts on my innards (only two, mind you!) plus two helpers have kept and are keeping 200 of me running! All day and every day. And that takes in everything I need-from motor work to service. Just four men-if only two of those four know their business. The funny part of it is that you’ve got ‘em. Only you’ve got ‘em doing K.P. or cleaning machine guns.

And those two would tell you, point blank, that I’m good and that I have uses far beyond your fondest dreams-but only if you’ll give me the things I’ve got to have: sparkplugs that fit my job and the heat I run under; oil that will take what I’ve got to give and those few other specialties that I must have if I am to give. The list is pitifully small, and I’m so willing and so eager. My men would be eager, too. They would be sharp and keen and skillful if you’d train them with one-quarter the effort you expend on a radio man or one-tenth the care you bestow on a pilot.

And they’d show you things under this new heading of offensive infiltration that you never dreamed were possible. They’d show you how a guarded and commanded road is nothing more than a bunch of dopes holding something nobody’s going to use! And they’d do it with a speed that would delight your beard.

So-think it over, Uncle-will you? And maybe drop me a line. I’d like to ride this war out for you but I’d like to ride it out doing something better than delivering postcards for the General!

Faithfully yours,

The Army Motorcycle.