Don Gibson of Clinton thought he had his life planned out when he graduated from Clinton High in 1989. Becoming a young father & husband before his graduation day, Don planned for a future as a career military man, knowing that the service would be his best bet for providing for his young family. Although there was no significant military history in his family (aside from his grandfather who served in WWII) Don’s love for our nation’s history & love for patriotism was mostly cultivated by Hollywood. Movies like Rambo & Commando that were popular when he was growing up fueled Don’s desire to serve his country. True to his plans, he left for ARMY basic training four days after graduation. Returning from basic, Don quickly received orders to deploy. On August 2, 1990 Saddam Hussein & the Iraq military began its’ invasion by bombing Kuwait City, beginning the Gulf War. On Aug 8th Don’s previous orders were cancelled & he was redirected to Saudi Arabia. Don’s company spent most of their time in the sand defending the northern border of Saudi Arabia and working to push Hussein’s military out of Kuwait & back into Iraq. Serving as an infantry man before taking on a machinist position, Don saw his share of war & casualty in the 3 years he served. Like I said earlier, he planned on being a career military man- but his plans and reality didn’t mesh; Don sustained a major back injury while changing tracks on a Bradley Vehicle which forced his early retirement from the ARMY. Throughout his brief time in the military many friendships were created though war & with the help of the interweb, Don has reconnected with some of his former comrades recently. The best thing that Don took out of his time in the military was a renewed respect for the simple things in life, those little things that so many of us take for granted. Don also spoke of his profound respect for all members of our military past & present, telling me “there are still soldiers out there fighting & dying to ensure we always retain our freedoms & I am thankful for their personal sacrifice & generosity”.
chance he got. However, it wasn’t until after his time in the service and a few years after returning to civilian life that Don could afford his first bike. In 1999, he picked up an ’85 Yamaha for $500. Shortly after, Don decided to upgrade and purchased a ’98 Vulcan. He still owns that bike and says it’s the bike he loves the most. Over the years Don picked up a 2006 Road King that has been chromed out and the motor upgraded to the hilt; telling me that this bike has had so much done to it that he’d never recoup the costs associated with the upgrades if he ever sold it- so he’s not going to! This is his play toy, no radio to sing along to, no windshield to protect him from eating bugs and no back rest to help alleviate some of the lingering ppain from his military injuries. However, Don’s ‘go-to’ ride is a 2008 Ultra Classic, D which he picked up at Clinton HD even w tthough he wasn’t looking for a new ride. The red paint job caught his eye and he T jjust couldn’t live without this bike. As we all get older, we realize that looking w ccool is one thing but being comfortable iis where it is. His Ultra has a comfy sseat, a backrest, a radio & of course a windshield. Don’s not a huge fan of w modern technology, but wanting to have m ssome tunes to listen to on his new bike, hhe went out and purchased an iPod & filled it with music strictly for enjoyment while he’s out cruising. Don’s favorite place to ride is along Scenic Ridge Road between Savanna, IL and New Diggings, WI although he notes there are many roads in Iowa that are just as pretty with curves and hilltop views for miles, he just hasn’t found ‘em all yet.
Don’s wife Stacy is a rider and can be seen cruising the streets of Clinton on her flat black 2010 Dyna Street Bob. His step-daughter is also a rider, however since an accident on a sport bike that warranted a broken collarbone she hasn’t gotten back on that horse quite yet, but Don hopes she soon will. And even though one of his grandsons is only 4 years old, he loves it when Grandpa puts him on the bike and rides up and down the street, just the two of them. Recently, a cousin got in touch with Don and asked for Don’s help in finding the perfect bike for him. What started Way before Don thought about his future or even entered out as an unruly child, opposing his father’s wishes has high school, he fondly recalls when and how his love for 2 culminated into a family passionate for all things 2-wheeled. wheels came about. With an uncle living across the river Don credits his time in the military for helping him mature in Illinois on a farm, Don spent many weekends helping and giving him an ability to see what really matters in life out at that farm. Along with the tractors, combines and and credits his time on two wheels for bringing a family other farm machinery, his uncle had a little Honda 150cc together that may not have been otherwise. We send thanks for Don’s cousin to ride on around the farm. Don’s dad was to you Don for your military service and also for instilling adamantly opposed to Don riding on that little bike, telling that passion for 2 wheels in the next generation! his son “Don’t you DARE ride that bike this weekend”. As any young boy would, he ignored his dad’s warning and ~Pinky spent many hours riding the wheels off that little bike every Thunder Roads Magazine of Iowa on Facebook www.thunderroadsiowa.com 32 - TRMI MARCH 2015
Published on Feb 20, 2015