Thiede gifted motorbike via hogs for heroes



Wisconsin primarily based group Hogs for Heroes presents a Harley Davidson motorbike to Fond du Lac veteran Robert Thiede.
Douglas Raflik, Fond du Lac Reporter

“One bike at a time, one hero at a time,” is the motto of the non-profit group Hogs for Heroes.

FOND DU LAC – A tough childhood compelled Rob Thiede to fend for himself from early-on.

By the age of 14, the Fond du Lac youth had run away from dwelling. At 16, he enlisted within the Marine Corps’ early entry program and lived with buddies till highschool commencement.

He headed off in addition camp seeking to escape, discover individuals he may name household and turn into one thing higher.

Whereas Thiede discovered the brotherhood and objective he had hoped for, 4 years and 4 deployments late he returned dwelling from Iraq wounded, invisibly scarred and haunted by demons brought on by post-traumatic stress syndrome.

However the battle veteran’s story doesn’t finish there. After a collection of struggles with alcohol and homelessness, Thiede turned his life round. He met his spouse Char and collectively they constructed a robust basis — one among Marine veteran values and objective.

This previous weekend, the 35-year-old Thiede was rewarded for his service to his nation, his tenacity and his power to push ahead by two Wisconsin non-profit teams: Hogs For Heroes and Purple Coronary heart Riders.

After phrase obtained round Thiede was driving a 33-year-old Honda motorbike held along with zip ties and duct tape, efforts started in earnest to get the veteran some new wheels.

On Saturday, Hogs for Heroes offered Thiede with keys to a shiny, 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Particular at Open Roads Harley-Davidson in Fond du Lac. A full-on crowd of supporters included riders from throughout the state, a lot of whom had been veterans who had traveled to supply Thiede their friendship and their help.

Purchase Photograph

Motorbike fanatics, together with many militarily veterans, collect at Open Street Harley-Davidson in Fond du Lac Saturday as Marine Corps veteran Rob Thiede (entrance left) of Fond du Lac is presented a 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Particular from the Wisconsin-based Hogs for Heroes group, represented by its president Kevin Thompson (entrance proper). (Photograph: Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

 “All my life I’ve labored for all the pieces. Once I give to others I ask nothing in return,” Thiede stated. “So to be offered with one thing like this, I don’t know tips on how to cope with it. It’s onerous to take this all in.”

The reward marks the eighth injured Wisconsin veteran Hogs for Heroes returned to the street, to profit from therapeutic via motorcycling.

Members refer it as “street remedy,” stated Kevin Thompson of Madison, who together with his spouse based the group 4 years in the past. The group’s mission relies on medical research which have proven driving bikes has a chilled impact on individuals identified with PTSD.

As quickly as Hogs for Heroes raises sufficient cash to fund the acquisition of one other motorbike, the following veteran to obtain the reward can be chosen. The applying course of is closely vetted and reviewed by an advisory board comprised of veterans and group leaders, Thompson stated.

The group’s youngest recipient was a 20-year-old veteran who developed service-related most cancers. The oldest was a Vietnam vet in his mid-70s who suffered lingering results from gunshot wounds.

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What stood out about Thiede was the very fact he volunteered to go in hurt’s manner, Thompson stated. He even tried to reenlist for a fifth deployment, however they wouldn’t enable him to go due to poor well being. 

Educated as a heavy gear operator, Thiede ready bases, cleared roads, and operated land-mine eradicating gadgets in Iraq — machines designed to dig up IEDs and blow them up by working them over.

“Think about the concussive facets of doing that, repeatedly, for years,” Thompson stated. “Rob is a really proud man, and like so many veterans, he’s stoic, however he actually went via so much.” 

When Thiede witnessed the tragic suicide of a detailed Marine brother on base, his superiors informed him to show off his emotions. “Shake it off and hold going,” they informed him, Thiede stated whereas sharing his story with Hogs for Heroes. 

Missions intensified as the battle continued — unknown assailants, rocket blasts and land mines at each flip. The variety of wounded and lifeless saved rising and at the back of Thiede’s thoughts remained the good friend he couldn’t save.

Do not take into consideration them. Rubble, sand, rubbish, warmth and wind. Can’t sleep. Take care of it. Bombings, explosions and gunfire. 

Neglect, neglect, neglect.

The transition again dwelling, on the age 22, was lonely and tough, Thiede stated. Environmental hazards of fight had left him asthmatic and his brotherhood was gone. Sources had been nonexistent and he had no expertise at life as an grownup civilian.

Flashbacks, relentless anger, nightmares and apathy tortured him. He spiraled uncontrolled and drank excessively, finally turning into homeless and jobless.

Thiede stated he thought-about suicide on a couple of event.

“I used to be drained. I wished to surrender the battle and I didn’t need individuals to have to fret about me anymore,” he stated. “I used to be touring down a darkish street.”

Then by some means, within the midst of his darkest days, Char got here alongside. She noticed his goodness, he says, his selfless character and the person he may very well be, and patiently guided his change. Collectively they moved ahead, growing new coping and communication expertise.

Thiede finally discovered employment as a corrections officer at Taycheedah Correctional Establishment, the place he continues to work immediately.

Alongside the way in which, he traded his truck for a bike.

“With each mile the demons and ache had been lessened, anger was launched, and Rob’s life refocused itself,” Thompson stated. “Via driving, he realized he had the capacity to assist others.”

Today Thiede leads efforts to acknowledge veterans in his work place and plans to work with Salute The Troops, a neighborhood group that provides a community of help providers to struggling veterans.

“I wish to deliver consciousness to different veterans that there’s gentle on the opposite aspect of this darkish tunnel,” Thiede stated. “I need them to know I’ve been via it, and there are individuals on the opposite aspect, prepared to assist.”

Jason Johns, president of Purple Coronary heart Riders, stated that is the primary time his group was in a position to donate sufficient funds to Hogs for Heroes — the $20,00zero wanted  —  to buy Thiede’s motorbike. Assist additionally got here from VFW organizations all through the state.

Saturday’s celebration was capped off by dozens of riders accompanying Thiede on a scenic journey via the northern Kettle Moraine State Forest, Johns included. He stated sharing the open street with fellow vets brings again misplaced objective when collectively, they journey for a trigger.



“You try to take all of the steps vital to deal with the psychological anguish, the PTSD, nevertheless it by no means goes away,” stated the Purple Coronary heart recipient. “On a bike, you turn into one with the street and the machine, and there is a peace that comes with that.”

Laurie Thiel, managing accomplice at Open Street stated it was a thrill to assist Thiede together with his buy of a Harley — “a storied model that exudes freedom,” she stated. Serving veterans has been a long-time mission of the Fond du Lac enterprise.

“We imagine locally we reside in and it takes a village to assist these veterans and their households get again to on a regular basis life,” she stated. “We hope to encourage different small companies to do the identical.”

Thiede says he is grateful for the brand new bike and the alternatives that may come to pay it ahead. 

“One bike at a time, one hero at a time,” is the motto Hogs for Heroes lives by, Thompson stated.

“Homelessness, psychological sickness, starvation in veterans populations – these are points bigger organizations are in a position to handle,” he stated. “We really feel if we will make a distinction in a single veteran’s life, in flip they begin to assist others.”

Contact Sharon Roznik at 920-907-7936 or Observe her on Fb at


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