Five Years Gone By...

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Fred W

1 Wheel Drive
FJR Supporter
Nov 9, 2006
Reaction score
Eastern VT
I'll post this in the Ride Reports subforum, because that is sort of what it was in this case, but it probably rightfully belongs in "Rest in Peace."

It was five years ago tomorrow, back on April 22nd, 2008, that our good forum friend Chris (The Axeman) Haerter lost his only child, his son Jordan, a Lance Corporal in the US Marines, to the war in Iraq.

Those of you who do not already know all about this can read the full story here:

It is a moving story of two young Marines who made the supreme sacrifice to protect their platoon from a suicide bomb truck attack.

Four years ago, near the first anniversary of Jordan's death, a few of us ventured down to his home town of Sag Harbor New York to pay our respects. Here's a link to that ride report 4 years ago. When I realized how long it has been I knew it was high time to return again. On our prior visit they had already dedicatded the main bridge into the village to Jordan, and placed the memorial marker near the bridge, but they ahd not finished the stone markers at his grave site. Though Chris had sent me the pictures I really wanted to see them, experience them, first hand. And most of all, I did not want such a momentous anniversary to pass by unnoticed.

So I contacted the two other NERDS who had ridden with me the first time, Alan (ionbeam) and George (cota95) and plans were made for a return ride. Unfortunately something came up at the last minute for ionbeam and he couldn't come along this time, so George and I headed down on Friday.

Leaving home in southern New Hampshire a little before 8AM I had a pleasant 2 hours of back roads to our rendezvous spot in Douglas, Mass, by 10AM. After a cup o' Joe, a good hard look at George's brand new 2013 FJR (the rat bastid), and a chance to do some catching up, we took a nice ride through rural Rhode Island and Connecticut down to the New London Ferry terminal.

The ferry ride across Long Island Sound is a pleasant hour and a half ride, more chance for George and I to talk, more catching up. It is really the same ride we made 4 years past, so I didn't bother with taking a bunch of pictures of the ferry or scenery. That was all very well documented the last time. Just imagine the same stuff only the riders are a tad bit greyer and pudgier.

Once on the Island, we took the "long way around" from the North fork to the South fork of the island and into "The Hamptons", rather than the two little ferries that passing you through Shelter Island. It turned out to be a little gray and drizzly for this part of the ride, but all in all the weather was not that bad. Seemed in keeping with the tone of our afternoon.

Once we arrived in Sag Harbor, rather than parking the bikes and hoofing it around town the way we did the last time, since George is still recovering from his recent hip replacement, we decided to ride the bikes over to the cemetery to visit Jordan's grave site on the other side of town.

Jordan's grave is positioned prominently near the front entrance of the small town's cemetery, just to the left of the gate.





Many medals and medallions, and even a few handy church keys, have been left behind by his visiting brothers.




What a peaceful resting place he has. I can just imagine sitting on the bench, listening to the windchime in the tree above and getting lost in thought for hours. While George and I stood and talked there we discussed the date. He reminded me that it was, in fact, the 19th that day, and it would be Monday that is the 5 year anniversary. How poignant it was that we would be visiting this fallen hero on April 19th, Patriots Day, 237 years after the start of the American Revolution with the battles in Lexington and Concord.

With the first objective of our trip being met, it was time to meet up with Jordan's father in a while. Chris and Michelle had been at a veterans function in Washington DC and would be returning that evening. We met them at one of Chris's old hangouts, The Corner Bar on Sag Harbor's Main St. and walked down for a delicious dinner at Il Capucinno. Good company, good conversation, good food. Worth a stop if you'll be in town for a visit.

Overnight a front moved through and dumped a major amount of rain. Luckily it moved through pretty quickly and though it was still sprinkling in the morning it cleared by around 10AM

In the morning, we met up again with Chris and had some breakfast, and then he led us out on a ride around on some parts of the island that we hadn't visited on the last trip. He took us around to a garage across town where he keeps this antique military vehicle (forget the model number) that he bought a couple of years ago. He said it doesn't go very fast, and isn't very comfortable, but it's still lots of fun to putt around the island on.





He told us how he had this mural painted on the hood by an airbrush artist who did this all freehand. Awesome work.


There are a surprising number of twisty little intertwining back roads out on the east end of Long Island. Some pretty good riding, really, and of course a lot of grand mansions and big estates to take in. The three of us rode for around a few hours with Chris showing us his secret stash of east end twisties.

Of course we had to stop for the obligatory Photo Op at The Big Duck in Flanders


The tres hombres...


What is that gleam in his eye?


Oh. I see... The boys are violating that poor duck from behind!!


George and I talked later on the ferry and we both had enjoyed riding with Chris greatly, and we also hoped that maybe it took Chris's mind off of other more somber things this weekend, at least for a few moments...

With all of the great riding and a stop for some java and to walk around in Greenport village for a little while we didn't get back to Orient Point to catch ferry until 3PM. We bid our fare thee wells, and Chris headed on back home to Sag Harbor just before we boarded the ferry. That put us back in New London at 4:30, so it was a slab fest to get home before it got too dark. Luckily that went uneventfully for everyone.

Before I'd met Chris, that was back in 2007, I had never even been to the east end of Long Island. I thought that it was all like the other end, which is not much of a place to visit in a car never-mind on a bike. But, probably more for the mission than anything else, it was another enjoyable and meaningful weekend road trip for me.

If you get a chance and have the desire, a trip to the Hamptons is kind of nice at the right time of year.

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Thanks Fred for the report and the reminder. As my kids about Jordan's age grow up and enjoy the fruits of this country's freedom, I am reminded that Jordan won't. Stuck in time. Selfless bravery and instinct to do the right thing no matter the cost.

Thanks Jordan for your service.

It's good to see Chris again.

A memorable weekend. Thanks for the company Fred and Chris and Michelle for the hospitality.

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That Memorial of Jordan is priceless and the three of you to remember and share those moment will always remind me that freedom is priceless.

In 2009, Sooze and I went to visit Chris and to see Jordan's bridge.

Did they have his memorial up when you guys were first there? It is near the end of the bridge.

Haven't heard much from Chris in a while. Good to see he is doing well.

I'd like to add, that Chris's comment on my thread about duke's demise, that not much makes him smile these days but pics of duke in his sidecase always did. Was one of the one's I treasured the most.

I really regret not being able to make the homage ride this time.

B'Geeker, in 2009 the roads were pink as it rained pink cherry blossoms.


The memorial was indeed there.


A number of mid-westerners were able to make the long ride out to Sag Harbor as well as one from the far northeast corner of Canada.


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Thank you Fred for posting such a heartfelt ride report and to you and George for honoring Jordan's memory with your visit. I truly appreciate everything that my forum friends have said and done in the past and all the things that you still do today. I'm not on the forum as much these days but my heart is always here and I do still check in regularly to make sure I'm not getting left behind.

All I can say is that the support I got from everybody 5 years ago when this all happened was vital to me getting through it. Keep all of those young fallen souls in your hearts everyday and never forget the family members (children especially) that are left behind. If you are ever in doubt that our freedom comes at a very high price, pay a quick visit to one of the many National Cemeteries as Michelle and I did down in Arlington on Thursday.


Thank You Fred and George for the post,and the ride to honor Jordan's life and his ultimate sacrifice for his country. Chris and Michelle our hearts and thoughts are with you Bluejag's

Beautiful tribute to this fine young man and his family.. I wish I didn't need to thank them for their sacrifice but I will.

Thank you for keeping America strong and safe; and to all those who serve, who have served, and those lost in service to this Country.

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As I sit and enjoy a glass of scotch while on terminal leave from the military, reading the newest post from the forum, this brings me back to why my four year enlistment ended 25 years later. I had given up on my dream job with PG County Police. It was not for the pay, the area, or the job. It was because of the caliber of personnel I worked with. I have loved every minute (not at that time, but later, looking back).

I shed a tear reading this post as I have reading the post from Axman every year on the anniversary of Jordan's death. I have been joint service most of my career and have come to appreciate the talents of each service. I will miss being part of the team of such fine men and women who sacrafice so much for our freedom, often unappreciated. Last year, I read the story of his sacrafice to my troops to remind them who they work to protect through providing actionable intellingence.

Thank you for paying such respect for such a fine example of an true warrior.


Hello, New England FJR Friends,

Great ride report, Fred, with a deeply respectful reason.

Chris, we met once or twice on rides, and I still think of you and your son often.

It's been some time since I was on the forum, but thought of you again when seeing Jordan's story as told by Gen. John Kelly online at Business Insider. Thought I'd let you know that it had excellent exposure at the top of their home page this morning. The headline, "Everybody Should Read General John Kelly's Speech About Two Marines In The Path Of A Truck Bomb" immediately told me it was Jordan. Read more.

Very best wishes to you all. Come and see us in Northern California sometime.


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