My name is Harold DePuy road name “Grumpy”. I am a retired Army Sergeant First Class and VietNam veteran. It was a dream of mine to do Run For The Wall some day. Funds were always short and Patriot Guard missions were a priority. In 2013 I was told to get off the Harley due to health problems. So I sold the Harley and prepared to spend my time at home doing not much of anything.
I was talking to some friends one day, and they suggested I get a trike. Well I knew I could never afford a Harley trike, and didn’t really see myself on a Can-Am. So I figured I would look around for parts and build a VW trike. I thought it would take about two-years to build. One day I drug a transaxle into my garage, and the build was on. Eight months later the trike was finished and registered. Over the next couple years changes were made to upgrade the trike including a new 1776cc engine.
The 2016 RFTW was coming into Las Cruces, NM, and I went to Barnett Harley Davidson to greet them as I had always done for several years before. But that day I told myself I had to go with them, no matter what. The trike was ready, and I felt I definitely was, too. So that evening I packed with the help of my wife and son. At 4:00AM I was headed back to Las Cruces, NM. I registered and was welcomed as never before by several riders, and was assigned to the 9th platoon. Eventually I ended up at the back of the pack because the performance cam and big carburator put out a high amount of exhaust fumes. I didn’t care, I was doing the Run For The Wall!
I was actually living my dream. I had no rooms reserved, and saw the Southern Route itinerary booklet for the first time that morning. I was as fresh as an FNG, as you could get. I learned real quick what I needed to do, with Road Guards encouraging me along the way. The tail gunners were tolerating the gas fumes. My wife downloaded the itinerary from the RFTW website, so she was booking rooms for me the whole way.
We made it to Monroe, LA to the City Hall Wreath Laying. When it was time to leave, the trike would not start. The ignition and starter burned up. Bill from the Shriners came to my rescue. We had the trike back on the road by 6:00PM. Thinking that I was good to go for the rest of the mission was only the beginning of many challenges that lay ahead of me. Coming into Chattanooga, TN the number 3 spark plug blew out of the engine. And forgetting to put the trike in gear caused it to get away from me and roll down the steep bank. I had to dune buggy the thing back up the embankment with three cylinders. The support truck hauled the trike to Thunder Creek Harley Davidson where the service manager called for help, since they didn’t work on VWs. Stateline Wagons came to the rescue. They hauled the trike to their shop and had me on the road again the next day.
Coming into Roanoke, VA, just short of the D-Day Memorial, I broke an exhaust valve spring. After making the repair, I missed the D-Day Memorial. I pressed on to Lynchburg, VA. By this time several riders were commenting on how determined I was to make it to DC. Well we rolled into Arlington, VA on schedule. I stayed in DC for three days before heading back home.
On my return trip back home to El Paso, TX. I burned a hole in the number 3 piston. I was dead in the water. I called the guys at State Line, and Nick said to get a room and that he would send a truck to get me and the trike. The next day the truck showed up, and we went to Chattanooga, TN where they pulled the engine out and replaced it with a brand new engine. I wanted to cry. How could these guys be so kind to someone they barely met? What true Americans! They kicked me out without charging me a dime.
The rest of the trip home was great. No problems. I missed a lot of stops due to all of the break downs, but the bottom line is, I made it!!!
Plans are in place to make The Run again in 2017… This time on a Harley Street Glide. I plan to see the guys at State Line again, and Thank them. And next year I will start the run in Ontario, CA. The trike will have to sit this one out. Is it May yet?
2 thoughts on “FNG Story – Hal “Grumpy” DePuy”
Grumpy, what determination! And Congratulations on making it ALL THE WAY! I too have dreamed of making the RFTW, and like you finally did it this year 2016. Even though we were not on the same route (Midway for me), We are proud to have shared our FNG year with you. Welcome Home and thank you for your service.
That’s determination at its best, Grumpy! I met a couple riders this year on SR who had bike trouble while riding brand new HD’s. Both men ended up buying a second, brand new HD at the nearest dealership to their breakdown. I find it incredible that veteran or not, nothing stood in the way of each of you Continuing The Mission! That’s what it was/is all about while serving in the military and that same discipline instilled in each of us vets carries on with the RFTW mission. That is why I refuse to quit each year I ride…it’s mind over matter.
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