BOSSIER CITY, La. (KSLA) — Safety, community and camaraderie. Those are just some of the focuses for the Green Knights Military Motorcycle Club.
The nonprofit is made up of military and Department of Defense motorcycle riders and has more than 100 chapters worldwide, including Chapter 75 out of Barksdale Air Force Base. That chapter has 30 members.
Nathan Strickland, the chapter’s president, retired in October after serving in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years. He says he joined the Green Knights a few years ago.
“I’ve been riding since about 2010 on street bikes and things like that,” Strickland said. “I had a couple of friends out in California when I was stationed at Travis Air Force Base that were involved in the chapter out there. I didn’t ride with any chapter until I got to the Green Knights here when I learned a little more about it.”
Strickland says they are very involved on base and help mentor military members to follow regulations when it comes to riding. He says you don’t have to be current military to join the club though.
“We have retired Navy, retired Air Force, former Army,” Strickland said. “It’s just involvement. It’s friendship. It’s camaraderie. It’s a mentorship thing, not just for younger Airmen.”
“We had a funeral yesterday,” Strickland said. “One of our members passed away. The Patriot Guard Riders assisted with that because he rode with them as well. We do the Toys for Tots run. Vets for Vets is our biggest event. Every year we do that because it hits home for us. We stay involved as best we can in the community. It doesn’t matter what the event is for, if we can get there, we will ride.”
Strickland says during his time with the organization, the Green Knights have become family to him.
“I have friends who will never not be a part of my life now,” Strickland said. “These are some of my best friends and brothers who have become family to me. That’s honestly what we are. We spent a lot of time together hanging out, watching football, we talk about fixing bikes together, changing tires. We try to help each out as best we can and during my lowest points they were there for me.”
Strickland spent eight years working as an aircraft maintenance member; three years on F-15′s, five years on 747′s, then cross trained on airfield management.
“I spent the last 12 years jumping around managing the airport portion on an airfield,” Strickland said. “I retired out of Barksdale in October. I spent about four years here before I retired.”
William Rawlings is one of the members of the Green Knights Chapter 75. He says he got interested in the organization after talking with a few of his friends on base.
“I knew they rode and they were coworkers of my section,” Rawlings said. “I went out on a mentorship ride with them and just kept hanging out with them and eventually joined.”
Rawlings has been a part of the chapter for four years and has been riding motorcycles since 2002. Rawlings was active duty from 1999 to 2013 and has been a civilian on base and reservist ever since. He’s been stationed in California, Alaska, Oklahoma and Barksdale.
“Being a Green Knight is about the comradery, the respect towards each other, wanting to continually try and better yourself on and off the motorcycle,” Rawlings said. “On the motorcycle, riding as safe as we can. Mentoring on what to do, what not do to. Off the motorcycle, being there for each other and facilitating comradery.”
Rawlings and Strickland met while both were stationed in California. He says they build close friendships through the club.
“We do a lot of military related services,” Rawlings said. “ We escort fallen veterans, we have done full memorial services at the local cemeteries, flag folding and so on. I know that brings us closer to the veterans that have passed and it helps build up the spirit and comradery for the new generation.”
John Maattala, the secretary for Green Knights Chapter 75, says he joined the chapter a year and a half after being assigned to Barksdale. He’s been in the Air Force over seven years and has been stationed at Barksdale for the last five years flying the B-52s.
“I got referred to the at the time president because I was a registered motorcyclist on base,” Maattala said. “We chatted, talked about the club, he invited me out to a couple of events. I got to see how they interacted with the base populous. They did a parade for the kids on base and that hooked me in. I saw they were having a positive influence on base, outside of just the bikers, and the brotherhood, the comradery kept me in.”