Biker firefighters storm Snyderville | ParkRecord.com

Biker firefighters storm Snyderville

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

When nearly 300 bikers gather each year to tour Utah on Harley-Davidsons they usually don’t discuss politics or religion. The group of mostly firefighters and friends of firefighters thundered into the Snyderville Basin Saturday while riding through Summit County.

"All it does is get into fights that way," said 57-year-old Jerry Schenck, a biker from Syracuse who rolled into the Snyderville Basin Saturday on his Harley during the 2007 Fire Ride.

Schenck began riding with the firefighters with his grandson.

"It’s a ball," he said as a small, tattered flag on his motorcycle to honor American prisoners of war lost in Vietnam flapped in the cool morning breeze.

Schenck lost friends while fighting the war in Southeast Asia nearly 40 years ago.

"I made it back and they didn’t," said Schenck, whose black leather motorcycle vest displayed a patch with the iconic, black and white POW/MIA logo.

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As the number of American troops killed in Iraq spiked last weekend, Schenck said that war today in the Middle East is on the same crash course as Vietnam.

"Because of the politics, it hasn’t changed a bit," he added solemnly. "Get the politicians out of it and let the generals fight the war and it would be over by now."

The man with his graying ponytail was excited Saturday to ride around Utah Lake after leaving Summit County on U.S. 40 toward Provo Canyon.

"It’s all for fun," Fire Ride organizer Mike Leatham said Saturday after climbing off his motorcycle in a parking lot at The Canyons. "But we have big plans in the future."

The group hopes to create a memorial in Ogden to honor firefighters killed in the line of duty, called the America’s Fallen Firefighter Memorial, said Park City Fire Capt. Jason Stucki, who rode with the group on Saturday.

"I think that sounds fantastic," added Stucki, who rides a Harley-Davidson Road King Firefighter Special Edition.

"They’ve had a police special edition for years," he said, adding that Harley began building the bike for firefighters about five years ago.

Meanwhile, Leatham, who is fire marshal in Uintah, said, "Firefighters are a brotherhood."

"Policemen and firefighters, they all have something in common. They all want to be firefighters," Leatham joked.

Hundreds of motorcycle riders winding through Parleys Canyon Saturday morning "got out of control," he said grinning.

"What a beautiful day," said Stucki, who has ridden Harleys with large groups in Laughlin, Nev., and Sturgis, S.D. "There were a lot of firefighters and it’s a pretty tight-knit community. It was pretty cool to see how many people knew each other."