A Harley and a mission or two

By Vivian Blevins
Contributing Columnist

Chris Hensley rides a Harley Davidson Ultra Limited. Got his first bike back in 2000, a Kawasaki Vulcan 900, paid $9,500, and bought it on the easy-payment plan. He bought his second bike in 2012, a used Harley Davidson Ultra Classic for $12,000.

When I asked him about the popularity of the Harley, he was quick to respond, “They’re made in America; they’re an American tradition; they’ve withstood the test of time. There’s a Harley patch that reads, ‘If you have to ask, you wouldn’t understand.’”

A Union City Fire Department battalion chief for fire and rescue, Hensley is an imposing figure, but said, “100 percent what you see is what you get.” When I asked for specifics, he responded with, “I’m outgoing, straightforward, honest, compassionate, and protective of family and friends.”

When he speaks about the influencers in his life, his compassionate side comes out in full force. “As a boy, I wanted to be like my dad (Robert Hensley) who passed in 2020. He was a firefighter and paramedic for the West Milton Fire Department. As firefighters, we take care of people, walk hand-in-hand with them when they’re typically at the worst moments of their lives: car accidents, medical emergencies, fires. The list is endless.”

Another interest is his role as president of Hometown Heroes Motorcycle Association. With additional officers and other volunteers with ages ranging from the early twenties to the seventies, this group serves veterans and first responders.

Hensley attributes his interest in part in veterans from his talks as a teenager with his grandfather, U.S. Army Sergeant John Field. He reports, “Grandpa and I sat and talked at great length. He was in Germany in the final months of World War II. He wasn’t drafted: he volunteered. He chose to be there, serving his country, knowing it was the right thing to do.

“He talked about the war and especially the German kids, the fear in their eyes, the hunger, the delight when he shared his candy and gum with them and from time to time one of his MREs.”

Hometown Heroes Motorcycle Association, a well-oiled group with a commitment to coordination and delegation, engages in activities such as escorting funeral procession to gravesites and holding fundraisers for military families that are down on their luck and need help with medical bills, food, Christmas toys for their children. Recently, the association held a fund raiser to underwrite the cost of training canines to assist disabled veterans.

Hensley indicates, “We keep ourselves open so that we can respond where we see a need and want to fill it.”

He concludes, “The stereotypes of the past century no longer exist. Today’s society sees those of us who ride motorcycles not as roughnecks, troublemakers and gangbangers but as men and women who do what they can to better their communities, as groups to whom they can turn when they need help.”

Hensley welcomes emails ([email protected]) from those who want to join the association as well as from those seeking assistance. Be prepared, however, to hear his pooches in the background and his attempts to control them: Bella, 8, a Doberman-Rottweiler mix, and Axel, 2, a rescue Shar-Pei-Shepherd mix from the Dark County Animal Shelter. The three are joined by Hensley’s wife, Michelle, a teacher of infants and toddlers at the Council on Rural Services.

Vivian B. Blevins. Ph.D., a graduate of The Ohio State University, served as a community college president for 15 years in Kentucky, Texas, California, and Missouri before returning to Ohio to teach telecommunication employees from around the country and students at Edison State Community College and to work with veterans. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.