The front fairing on the motorcycle portrays the USS South Dakota submarine on the rider’s ride-hand side. The state’s namesake battleship from World War II, firing its 16-inch guns, is shown on the left.
Navy veteran Tom Muenster said the motorcycle, donated by the Harley-Davidson company, will be on the pier at the submarine’s official commissioning ceremony in Groton, Conn., later this year, but will then return to the state and be displayed at the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame. However, an ignition key to the bike will remain aboard the submarine as it sails off on its mission.
That ignition key gives the USS South Dakota sailors, when they’re on leave, a chance to head to Sturgis and take the motorcycle for a spin.
The state’s namesake submarine in the U.S. Navy was christened in Connecticut last Oct. 14. When it’s commissioned later this year, Muenster said that will mean the crew was fully trained, qualified and capable of carrying out the vessel’s mission; and that the submarine itself was completely ready for service.
Muenster, who serves on the USS South Dakota Commissioning Committee, said the committee’s responsibility is to help forge ties between the sailors on the submarine and the residents of the submarine’s namesake state. As Muenster put it, the committee is supposed to introduce the sailors of the USS South Dakota to the “tradition, heritage and culture of South Dakota.”
Besides the motorcycle, there have been other connections. Late last October four U.S. Navy sailors — who will be a part of the crew of the USS South Dakota — visited with Stanley County Elementary students. They also went pheasant hunting with Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
And just as the sound of shotguns blasting roosters out of the skies is a part of South Dakota heritage, so too is the rumble of Harley-Davidson motorcycles at the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally. The committee’s work means that USS South Dakota sailors will have a chance to experience the state’s motorcycle culture.
To help the committee, a $5,000 grant check from the South Dakota Community Foundation, which offers an unrestricted fund supporting “culture, economic development, education, health and human services,” was awarded this week when the motorcycle was shown.