by R.T. Lawton
Myth has it that the Hell's Angels MC was started up by a group of military pilots in the years after World War II ended, however the current H.A.'s dispute that version of their origin. After some historical checking on their part, they claim there were several aviation units in WWII that used the name Hell's Angels as their unit's designation, but none of those were the guys who started the motorcycle gang. Myth or reality, it's not the past we have to worry about. Instead, we should be concerned with the current relationship between motorcycle gangs and the members of our nation's military, and where this relationship is going.
Several motorcycle gangs across America are now actively trying to recruit members of our military services. Why is that, you ask? Because people with military training have a multitude of skills that gangs can utilize to make their criminal endeavors stronger and more efficient. Weapons and explosives are two areas of expertise that gangs can turn into immediate use in their bids for territory and dominance in the environment of motorcycle gangs, or to make inroads into illicit business enterprises run by other criminal organizations, and even to make money from legitimate businessmen.
Other military skills such as combat tactics, communications and security also help the gang to tighten up their game, making it harder for a rival gang to compete against them. It can also make it more difficult for law enforcement to catch them in their criminal acts and then bring them successfully to trial.
For some military members back from deployment in a hostile country, a motorcycle gang offers the allure of continuing the excitement and adrenaline. An "us against them" mentality of being part of a special group. And, with the structured chain of command set up in most motorcycle gangs, it's a familiar type of leadership situation for the serviceman to transfer into.
Naturally, our military leaders have strong concerns about their people joining the ranks of any criminal organization. If it can be proved that a serviceman has an affiliation with a banned group, then he or she can be subject to discharge.
To avoid the appearance of an open affiliation, at least one gang, the Sons of Silence MC, has allegedly created a subgroup known as the Silent Warriors. This subgroup, according to two sources close to the SOS MC, is made up mostly of active members of the military. What can a Silent Warrior do for a 1% motorcycle gang? Well, for one thing, being an active member of today's military requires that person to have a clean record with law enforcement. And what does it take to purchase a firearm these days? Right, a records check. His clean record makes it easy for a Silent Warrior to conduct straw purchases of firearms for the gang.
As is necessary for their duties and training, members of the military have access to assault weapons, ammunition, explosives and detonators, night vision googles, ballistic vests and other equipment desirable for fighting against other groups. Of course when the military realizes that equipment has gone astray, they take follow-up action. For instance, our local army post locks down the entire fort while they search for the missing items. But, since the army also has other important matters to tend to, at some point, whether it is days or weeks, the lock down is lifted and the fort opens up again even if the stolen or "misplaced" items have not been located.
From time to time, agents from the Army CID, the ATF or other law enforcement agencies will conduct undercover operations to arrest those personnel who attempt to remove military equipment and weapons out through the back door. Unfortunately, it's impossible to catch every violator or to retrieve every stolen item. Some of those goods still get out to various criminal organizations, to include those motorcycle gangs which are actively pursuing them.
So what's the answer?