From left to right Norm Brawner, Russ Richards, Ken Burton (State Judge Advocate) Dewayne Shriver, Sitting is John Fair.
History of the Veterans of Foreign Wars
Motorcycle Group of Texas
“The Ride 2004-2005”
The VFW Department of Texas 2004-2005 State Commander John Fair, affectionately known as “Big John” wanted to do a special project of for the M.A.P. program during his term in office. He was a motorcycle enthusiast and rode a big beautiful Kawasaki Trike. So he asked around if anyone would like to make a run with him across the state. It just so happened that the Sr. Vice Commander, Duane Shriver and the Jr. Vice Commander, Russ Richards were also motorcycle enthusiast. So they said great let’s plan a run that will raise funds for M.A.P. Russ Richards began to put the plan together and he had an unfortunate accident on his motorcycle. This kind of put him out of commission for a while. Big John started looking around at his officers to see who else was a rider and he found out the his then, Area III Coordinator, Norm Brawner had also been a motorcycle enthusiast since he was a young teen.
So he asked him to take over for Russ. He agreed to do so and the planning was back on.
After 2 months of planning the ride finally came together. It was a very ambitious plan that would begin on Saturday, September 25, 2004 at the VFW Post #3892 in Harker Heights, Texas and ended after 20 stops at VFW’s across the State, some 1,291 miles later on Wednesday, October 5, 2004 at the VFW Post #6873 in Abilene, Texas, just in time for Big John’s Homecoming that same weekend. There were about 10 members who rode the whole ride from start to finish, and as well as a couple of trucks with members that wanted to be a part of the program even though they were not motorcycle riders. There were riders and still others in cars and motorhomes who joined in when they could and dropped out when they had to. Everyone arrived safely and no breakdowns, with the exception of one of the motor homes brakes failing, but that’s a story for another time. But, over all it was a ride to remember that raised over $25,000 for the M.A.P. program, which is something those who were involved, are still very proud of and a time of camaraderie that they will never forget. A time which made 4 VFW Members stop to say, “This is something that could be a great asset to our Organization as well as to our Veterans.” “This could be a way to reach the younger generation of Veterans.“
So the idea came to life and the planning began to start a Veterans of Foreign Wars Motorcycle Group.
The bike riding community is a close net family group that has a common bond in life.
Just like the VFW members that are Brothers and Sisters in Arms.
“A Dream is Realized 2004-2005”
As the previous story stated this was begun by 4 VFW members that loved riding their motorcycles.
So in January they decided to get to work on how to make it become a reality for everyone in Texas,
with hopes that some day it would carry on across the nation. They began by meeting with each other
and figuring out how the formation would be accomplished.
The four of them began to work on the By-Laws to govern the group. They discussed how no matter what,
the VFW had to be protected from any liability, for any occurrences that might take place or happen on a ride.
They began by contacting the Marine Corps Motorcycle Club, since one of the 4 members belonged to the
group as a support member. They took the Marine Corps M.C. By-Laws and said yes they were good; but a lot
of the items in them would not pertain to our group. We do respect the beliefs of the 1% Clubs but they felt
that they were 100% Veterans and 99% Motorcycle Enthusiasts and that we do not share in some of their
beliefs. This was a new venture for the VFW and the business group members were concerned about the
image a group of Blue Jean, Tee Shirt, Leather Vest Wearing Motorcycle Club (M.C.) members would not
reflect well on the VFW, so they decided they would call the organization a Motorcycle Group instead of a
Motorcycle Club, and the back patches would be a two piece set up and not a 3 piece set up as most 1%’s are.
This should satisfy all parties involved.
They then asked for a set of the By-Laws from the VFW Motorcycle Club in California, the Combat Veterans
Motorcycle Association in Colorado, and a copy from the American Legion Riders in Texas. They then began
to form a set of By-Laws to work for their group. After picking what to leave in and what to take out, one of
the member’s wives typed up the initial draft of the VFWMG of Texas By-Laws. They went back and fourth
and made many changes until they felt it would work. They then contacted the Department Adjutant who
was a Lawyer and asked what else needed to be put in to cover the VFW. After he made a couple of small
changes the By-Laws were formed and they were now well on their way to becoming a legitimate group.
Now how about a logo, the Auxiliary member contacted a group that made patches for a number of the 1%
bike groups across the nation and said; “I want a patch that works for us and will not offend the 1% clubs.”
After months and a few changes, a logo was born. It would be a large circle made up of ribbons on top and
bottom and the center empty so that the VFW patches could be sewn in the middle with one rocker on
bottom to show the type of membership the Veteran held. Charter Member would show that they are a VFW
member who rides a motorcycle and helped form the group, Unit Member would show that they are a VFW
member and they also ride but that they joined after the charter period. A support rocker would show that
they are a VFW member, but they do not ride a bike, however, they still want to be a part of the group and
help out where ever they can.
Six months after all off this began it was taken to the Department Council of Administration for approval of
the By-Laws and the permission to form the VFWMG. It was passed that the organization could begin on a
Post or District level. This meant that a Post or a District would ask their membership to host or sponsor a
VFWMG Unit, which would be similar to an Honor Guard Unit for the Post; only instead of rifles, they would
use their motorcycles. With the formation of the now popular Patriot’s Guard Motorcycle Organization,
they never realized just how true that would be.
The proposal was passed unanimously at the State Convention in June of 2005 as Big John was leaving office
and Duane Shriver was coming into the office of State Commander. The council had voted to let the dream
begin and those involved hoped it would become a dream come true. It was moved and approved that any
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post or District in the State of Texas, which wishes to do so, may sponsor a Veterans
of Foreign Wars Motorcycle Group Unit. Each member of the group provided they are a member in good
standing of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, may wear a patch which reads, “Texas, with the Cross of Malta, and
Post or District Unit #, and or Charter Member: And “In accordance with Section 709 of the National By-Laws,
the Veterans of Foreign Wars Motorcycle Group of Texas Unit sponsored by a Post or District, shall be at all
time under the direct control of the membership of the sponsoring Post and District.” They also required for
them to be affiliated with the “American Motorcyclist Association”, which is a group that provides liability
insurance for sanction runs involving the public because of liability concerns of the State and National Officers.
The only thing that remained was to get the rest of the required 10 rider members and to start the very first
Unit. It did not take long to recruit those and at the Mid Winter Conference in January 2004, 15 VFW Riding
Members had come forward and said, “I want to be a part of this idea.” So Unit One was made up of
members from all over the State of Texas. They came from 9 different Post and 6 different Districts. The
Veterans of Foreign Wars Motorcycle Group of Texas was on its way.
CM-0001 John Fair 8231 - Snyder D-7
CM-0002 Duane Shriver 8787 - Austin D-28
CM-0003 Russ Richards 4010 - Missouri City D-16
CM-0004 Norm Brawner 12024 - The Woodlands D-17
CM-0005 Donnie Mixon 5121 - Waller D-17
CM-0006 Joe Thompson 12024 - The Woodlands D-17
CM-0007 William Hoffman 12024 - The Woodlands D-17
CM-0008 Pete Glossinger 9181 - Stephenville D-21
CM-0009 Charlie Harrington 5400 - Alto Loma D-16
CM-0010 John Marschall 5400 - Alto Loma D-16
CM-0011 Mike Green 7109 - Pearland D-16
CM-0012 Jimmy Woods 4010 - Missouri City D-16
CM-0013 Wayne Luetkenhoelter 6974 - Burnet D-9
CM-0014 Ralph Lister 9181 - Stephenville D-21
“The First Year 2005-2006”
By August it was decided that it would be advantageous that the Ladies Auxiliary be included in the
group appointments since it quickly became evident that their help was going to be both wanted and
needed. So by August there was a By-Law Change put into place by Unit 1 members to allow Auxiliary
and Support members to hold Only Appointed positions but they would be included in the group’s
decisions but would not have a vote.
Then it was decided to include the Ladies Auxiliary Patch in the center of the back patch and the
Auxiliary Rocker to show that they are a proud family member of a VFW member and that they are a
member of the Ladies Auxiliary and want to be a part of the group. Even though some do ride it was
decided that they were first and far most a Ladies Auxiliary member and a rider second. So in August
of 2005 permission was obtained to allow the Auxiliary Members of the VFWMG Units to wear the
Ladies Auxiliary Patch on the back of their Vest.
By December it was brought to the attention of Unit 1 that Men’s Auxiliary members wanted to be a
part of the organization as well. So the Men’s Auxiliary Rocker was added for the Men family
members of Veterans that proudly said so by joining the Men’s Auxiliary sponsored by a VFW Post.
Thus the Patches that proudly showed we were VFW, Auxiliary and Motorcycle Enthusiast were now
being worn proudly.
Two more Units are formed up in the month of December of 2005. They were Unit 2-6873 Abilene
and Unit 3-9299 Alvarado. At Mid-Winter the first State Report was given to the Council of
Administrative to let them know of the progress the group was doing. With 3 Units they had grown
from the original 15 members to 54 VFW, 10 VFW Support, 13 Ladies Auxiliary and 7 Men’s Auxiliary
for a total of 84 members and 3 Units. Groups had completed
Things were going well and by the State Convention in June two more Units had formed. They were
Unit 4-4199 Midland and Unit 5-8787 Austin. The activity report given to the Council of
Administration was very impressive. The organization was now 175 members strong with 109 VFW,
13 Support, 29 Ladies Auxiliary and 23 Men’s Auxiliary members in 5 Units and one that was about to
be formed. Each group except for Unit 1 was holding monthly meetings and weather permitting
monthly rides and fundraisers. Unit 1 was always designed to be the Anchor Unit. The Unit would be
the one that started it all and would be the one to handle all of the necessary day to day operations of
Well with growth comes change and there were a total of 6 changes made to the operations or By-
Laws to make things fit better for all concerned. The Founding and Charter Member, Norm Brawner
was appointed by the newly elected State Commander, Russ Richards as the Special Event Chairman,
which the VFWMG was to be a part of. He was expected to keep the Department Commander
apprised of the progress through out the VFW Year.
“The Second Year 2006-2007”
Now things had kind of leveled out. We have only added one more Unit in 6 months. It is Unit 6-1475
Amarillo and we now have 205 members. All of the Units have been working as hard as they could to
show the Post and Membership across the state just what a benefit the organization will be for the
VFW. So it is decided in this report we should show some numbers to prove or worth.
The report recap for a 6 month period is: Total Community Service Projects - 104
Total VFW Riders - 175
Total of Hours Donated - 12,480
Total Miles Ridden - 78,000 +
Total Monies Collected or Donated -$41,600
While the Mid Winter numbers were impressive enough, they are a very quickly over shadowed by the
year end numbers.
Membership has now grown to 271 members,
165 VFW, 15 Support, 51 Ladies Auxiliary and 40 Men’s Auxiliary.
With a report recap of for 1 year:
While a report showing different types of projects is shown in
report a total of projects and number of volunteers or hours is
not listed however the $ amounts are re-capped as:
Unit 1 - 9 project categories $ 134,285 18 New Members
Unit 2 - 5 project categories 2,492 6 New Members
Unit 3 - 10 project categories 55,091 20 New Members
Unit 4 - 21 project categories 74,037 43 New Members
Unit 5 - 1 project categories 1,000 4 New Members
Unit 6 - 1 project categories 1,000 6 New Members
Total: $267,905 94 New Members
So to recap the year a total of 94 new members have been added to the roster of Post and Auxiliaries
across the State and just shy of $268,000 has been collected, donated or spent to further the goals of
the VFW and the Auxiliaries.
What an achievement for such a young organization.
“Year Three 2007-2008”
By the time we got to Mid Winter in January of 2008 the group was growing so fast that no one could believe it.
They were saddened by the fact that they had lost their Founding Father John Fair to a hard battle with Cancer.
They only hoped that the Lord was allowing him tolook on them from above.
The Department Commander had once again appointed Norm Brawner as the Chairman, but he called it the Motorcycle Coordinator. Three more Units joined us at Mid Winter Conference.
They were Unit 7-4341 Freeport, Unit 8-837 San Antonio and Unit 10-6008 Hewitt.
The chairman’s report told of the membership which had now grown to 350+.
The report spoke of and showed pictures of Buddy Poppy Drives, Cancer Aid & Research Fundraiser,
Hospital Visits made by Unit Members, projects such as Packages being shipped over seas and Rides made
to raise funds for M.A.P., POW/MIA Ceremonies, visits to Nursing Homes, Toy Runs to collect toys that are
sent to the VFW Nat’l Home as well as other Youth Projects.
It is very evident by the material that all of the Units are very busy helping their Posts and
Auxiliaries fulfill their project objectives.
It had also become apparent that they had grown to a size that one person could no longer
handle the day to day operations of membership, project reporting, vest ordering and still
fulfill their obligations to a busy Post and or Auxiliary. So while from the beginning of the
formation all of the above items had been handled by the Auxiliary member Judy Brawner,
the time had come for the next step in growth. It was decided that it is time form up a State
Level of the Origination by setting up a Council of Units and having the State Appointed
Chairman appoint a Council Level Secretary and Treasurer. So it was voted on at the Mid
Winter Conference that the By-Law Changes should be drawn up for a vote at the next State
Convention to form the much needed State Council of Units.
The Founding Member and at the time State Motorcycle Coordinator, Norm Brawner gave his
final report on the VFWMG of Texas during the State Convention of 2008. It recapped with a
total membership of 267 VFW, 31 Support, 78 Ladies Auxiliary and 49 Men’s Auxiliary
members for a total of 425 members.
Not to bad from 15 members in June of 2005 to 425 inJune of 2008.
The report recap also read: Total projects 384
Total hours 9,612
Total dollars $ 246,160+
At the State Convention of 2008 as State Commander Al Cantu, who was the first Support
member to join the VFWMG Unit 1, finished his year and Jerry Murphree was elected to the
Office of State Commander, a new era was born. With him a State Council of Units was
formed, made up of 2 VFWMG members from each Unit. The gavel was passed on to a new
Chairman, Dennis Montgomery and a new way of operating had begun. With this change
came some challenges, just as many changes bring. But with the love that is felt by all
VFWMG members for this great organization, things have worked themselves out and the
group had continued to grow and become a permanent part of the VFW and the Auxiliaries.
Who would have ever dreamed that when John Fair said let’s be adventurous and take a
12 day 1,291 mile run across the great state of Texas.
Let’s stop at 20 VFW Post and see how much money we can raise for M.A.P., which ended up being $25,000+.
It would lead to the start of an organization that has brought new members to the parent organization the VFW
and its Auxiliaries, has renewed the feelings for some members that seemed to had forgotten their way to the Post and Auxiliaries, or that it would have contributed to the starting of 5 new Men’s Auxiliaries in Post across Texas.
Who knew that the members of this organization would or even could have covered countless VFW and
Auxiliary Projects with countless of volunteered hours and raised Thousands of Dollars of monies for said
projects, and all of thisin just 3 years.
John Fair, Duane Shriver, Russ Richards and Norm Brawner did!
Thank goodness for the dreams of men.
Men that have proven that with hard work “Dreams Do Come True.”
This story has been told by a VFW Ladies Auxiliary Member, who saw a dream in her husband’s eyes.
She said, “what can I do to help.”
Boy if she only knew what a reward it would be.