Motorcycles have been used in the US Military since quite a long time. They helped the army at many places including the countries of Europe, Africa, and Asia. The Military Police or MPs patrolled the installations of the US Army across the globe in times of war and peace. Even before the Second World War, several models of Indian motorcycles and Harley-Davidson were in use.
Later, the production of WLAs happened on a large scale. The use of WLAs continued in the US Military after the Second World War. The army had many such machines that were the remains from the war. Now, let’s take a look at the 3 major wars that saw the use of Harley-Davidson motorcycles:
1. First World War
During World War I, General John Joseph ‘Black Jack’ Pershing realized the need for new motorcycles. He was of the opinion that it could give the US Army an edge in the war. At the time, the ease of use and agility that came from Harley-Davidson’s motorcycle was truly an asset.
Thus, the first official order for the motorcycles of Harley-Davidson was came in during 1916. General Pershing wanted to use it during the punitive raid against Pancho Villa, a Mexican revolutionary. This new venture was the beginning of a partnership that was to last for decades.
During the First World War, nearly half of the production of Harley-Davidson’s motorbikes was for the military. The company supplied its bikes to the United States and its allies. These motorbikes included the WLAs. The production of nearly 70,000 WLA bikes took place between 1942 and 1945.
It was in this war that the Harley-Davidson Service School was born. During those days, a three-week intensive training course was provided by the company. This course was highly successful, which led to its renaming as the Service School. Later many such training programs were available for the aspirants at the Harley-Davidson University.
2. Second World War
The United States entered World War II during the final weeks of 1941. Once again, Harley-Davidson got into a partnership with the US Military. The company nearly halted the civilian production of its motorcycle to focus on the needs of the army. The Service School again became the Quartermasters School and began its training of military mechanics once again.
For its valuable contributions, Harley-Davidson received the Army-Navy E Award. This was also known as the Production Award. This award was for the companies that were into the production of wartime equipment and proving their excellence. By the end of the Second World War, the company earned three more E Awards. They were presented to Harley-Davidson for its exemplary service in production during the war.
3. Vietnam War
Technology had advanced to a great extent by the time the Vietnam War happened. Much of the work done using motorcycles in reconnaissance and communications was no longer being done. However, the motorcycles were still in demand for the military in the post-Cold War era.
Their speed, versatility, and agility were of great help in certain operations. In the Vietnam War, the Harley motorcycles were useful for the Special Forces on the rugged terrains.