What comes to your mind when you pass a group of motorcycles on the road especially if they are burly, tattooed, bearded, leather wearing Harley riders? I am willing to bet most people picture them sitting in a bar drinking and smoking or if you watched Sons of Anarchy maybe you think they are criminals. In 2014 Chris Pritchard and his friends and fellow veterans Chad Lavery, Ed Williams and Buck Shooter were all dealing with conflict and issues from their time served in the military and looking for other men who saved that also loved to ride motorcycles. These men really needed a support system and an escape from the battles still happening in their minds and memories. This is how the Dog Tag Brigade Veteran Motorcycle Club was founded and you may be pleasantly surprised to find out what these bikers represent.
There are around 20 active members in the club that represent every branch of the military with the exception of The Coast Guard only because one hasn’t applied to join. They age in the range of mid 20s to an honorary member “Lundy” in his 80s they have brought into their biker family. Lundy is at the Veterans Administration and has no family so the guys visit him and take him for outings. 3 of the original founders have since retired due to health issues, relocation and work schedules but remain supportive to their club. They also have hundreds of supporters and followers that are always eager to help with an event or donate to their causes.
According to their current President Lee Carmichael, The Dog Tags’ mission is to have a positive influence in the community and help veterans in need. This is no ordinary biker club. These are men with jobs and families who love God, their community and this country. Their members have defended our country in many situations such as the Vietnam and Korean wars, Iraq, Afghanistan, Desert Storm and many more deployments. Some even have been awarded with a bronze star and a purple heart.
If you have been driving through a parking lot and noticed a purple painted parking spot for Purple Heart recipients those were paid for by donation to the Dog Tag Brigade and the members painted the spots. Many local funeral homes call them when there is an unclaimed veteran or one with no local family and the Dog Tags gather up as many riders as possible to provide an escort to their brother in arms to their final resting place. Every Christmas they provide for local veterans and their families and this year they are participating in our program here at The Loafer for our annual event. When a veteran needs a car repair, their home safer or warmer or even help with their utilities the Dog Tag members are contacted and they always do anything in their power to assist. They have been known to repair lawn mowers or mow a veteran’s yard. There is no end to what this great group of men has and will do in our community! Last year they lost one of their “brothers” JD Nichols in a tragic accident. The members and their families along with many of local supporters were at the hospital during the walk of honor as their friend was an organ donor that saved many lives. They have continued to be supportive to this young hero’s children and have even attended events at their school in place of their father JD. When my own son in law was returning from a tour in Iraq the Dog Tag members met him at the Tennessee border and escorted him home.
The next time you see a man wearing a leather vest that says Dog Tag Brigade Veteran Motorcycle club please thank that gentleman for what he has done for his community and his country. Thank you for every Dog Tag and every veteran!