These Three Vietnam Vets Rode to Mexico in 1970

The story of Leo, Dexter, and Terry, and their escape from the horror of war.

Go South Young Men
Leo, Dexter, and Terry pose proudly in front of the pyramid at Chichén Itzá on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula—a place they decided to explore from an Army base in Vietnam more than a year before.Terry Carper

"It all started one day when we were sitting around in our base camp at Bien Hoa, Vietnam," wrote Terry Carper in the August 1970 issue of Motorcyclist. He and his two buddies, Dexter Thompson and Leo Stortz, found a remote section on a map of Mexico called Quintana Roo—on the eastern edge of the Yucatán Peninsula—and after nearly two years of Army service went home and decided to go for it.
"All we wanted to do was 'get out' and take an adventurous motorcycle trip somewhere just as far away from Uncle and his little green jeeps as we could."

The friends aimed to do the trip on the cheap, and so they bought three Honda 305 scramblers from a dealer in Saigon and shipped them home. Terry, Dexter, and Leo seized pistons, deflated tires, wore out points, and shook bolts loose as they climbed over foggy and cold peaks and rattled through remote, dusty slices of Mexico. They ate turtle steak and slept in their own hammocks, exploring pyramids and volcanoes, along the 8,000-mile journey to their departure flight from Guatemala City. Terry's only regret was that he "would have enjoyed it a lot more if we could have continued on down Central America to Panama and South America." ­—Zack Courts