Rick Schmid brought some distinctive noisemakers to the 842nd welcome home parade in Sturgis Thursday -- a couple of vintage Harley-Davidsons.
Lt. Col. Rick Schmid started both his 1965 and 1966 Harley-Davidson motorcycles on the lawn of his business adjacent Junction Ave. in Sturgis just prior to the start of the 842nd welcome home parade Thursday. As the troops passed, he would rev up the motor so the soldiers could hear the rumble. Once he grabbed their attention, he would give them a respectful salute.
Schmid has been in their shoes. He spent about six months in Iraq with the 842nd in 2003.
"I'm doin' it for the kids," Schmid said of noisemaking for the members of the 842nd.
Earlier in the day, Sturgis Elementary School students stood with classmates on the sidewalk along Ballpark Road to wave at the buses carry the soldiers. They had tied yellow ribbons on a fence near the school to spell out 842nd.
Autumn Olsen was among the students waving to the troops. She said they waved back, too.
"I don't care if I don't know them, I still love them," Autumn said while waiting for the parade to begin Thursday evening.
Autumn's mom, Jamie Olsen, said she and her daughters were on hand to support the 842nd.
"We have lots of friends in the unit and I know how hard it has been being apart. We're glad everybody is coming back safe," she said.