Riding to remember: Motorcycle artwork raises awareness of POWs, MIA

Joe Saterdalen sits on his recently painted motorcycle in the shop of Spring Valley’s Dan Am Company surrounded by several Minnesota POW/MIA Riders. From left, are Craig Ugland, Dave and Kay Swenson, Jim Nelson, Stitch, Scott Eggert, Monica Eggert, Mark Ugland, Lyle Duxbury and Knud Jorgensen.

Bryce Duxbury graces the front fender of Joe Saterdalen’s motorcycle.
By : 
Spring Valley Tribune

An area veteran, a local business owner and an artist that does a lot of work for the local company teamed up to create a moving, visual message that brings awareness about prisoners of war (POW) and missing in action (MIA) service members.

Joe Saterdalen, of LeRoy, a disabled veteran who served during the first Gulf War era, recently became involved in the Minnesota POW/MIA Riders and decided he wanted to promote the group’s message of remembering and teaching awareness. He turned to Knud Jorgensen, president/CEO of Dan-Am Company distributor of SATA spray equipment, to see if he had any artist recommendations. Jorgensen suggested Mickey Harris, who has done a lot of work for his Spring Valley company.

Today, Saterdalen’s Harley Davidson Sportster has several pieces of artwork honoring veterans with ties to the area.

POW/MIA Riders

The Minnesota club, based in Rochester, was formed by its current president, Scott Eggert. The club has 34 members in southeastern Minnesota, most who own motorcycles, although that isn’t a requirement.

“The only requirement to be in the club is patriotism and support of the mission,” said Lyle Duxbury, of Rochester, who serves as the POW/MIA Riders sergeant at arms and is a Vietnam-era veteran.

Men and women in the armed forces make sacrifices and selflessly give — some laying down their lives, some never to return home. From the nation’s first fight for independence to current conflicts overseas, they fight to keep freedom alive for all generations, trying to make this world a better place for everyone. Keeping that awareness alive is the mission of the POW/MIA Riders, to remember and teach awareness — that POWs and MIA shall not be forgotten. 

Men and women ride all across the nation on choppers, hogs, cruisers and hot rods keeping POW and MIA issues in the public eye — to do all they can to account for the missing servicemen and servicewomen from all the wars and conflicts.

Saterdalen met Duxbury at a Rochester tattoo shop and the two got to sharing stories about their experiences. Duxbury thought he’d fit right in with the POW/MIA Riders and invited him to a meeting. Saterdalen became a member in the fall of 2017.

“People are forgetting we are in combat right now in a few different countries” said Saterdalen. “It is our mission to bring awareness and to remember those who lost their lives or who are still missing in action,” he said.

Furthering the cause

With a passion for the club’s mission, Saterdalen wanted to help bring awareness through artwork on his Harley Davidson Sportster.  Jorgensen’s suggestion of Harris seemed like a perfect fit.

 Harris calls himself a military brat and he is acclaimed for his artwork paying tribute to our military heroes and fallen soldiers.

“I am always excited to get to paint something for our military veterans. I live to do this type of work” said Harris. 

Harris painted images on the front fender as well as the top of the gas tank.

The front fender features Bryce Duxbury, a POW originally from Harmony and the father of Lyle Duxbury. Duxbury’s mother and father both served in World War II. Bryce Duxbury was captured in the Philippines in 1942 and marched in the grim Bataan Death March, weighing only 70 pounds when he was released in 1945.

On the back of the fender is the image of a wrist band from someone Saterdalen never met, but who has a special place in the heart of his father-in-law, Terry Cook. While Cook was serving in the Vietnam War, he was given a MIA wrist band that he has been wearing since 1969 even though he never knew the man — Major Steen who has been missing in action since 1966.

Painted on the top of the gas tank is Brad Halling, who lost his leg in Black Hawk Down. Halling is originally from Rochester and currently resides in North Carolina training army rangers.

“He is a true inspiration,” said Saterdalen.

Hitting the road

Members of the Minnesota POW/MIA Riders recently visited Austin to see the traveling Vietnam War Memorial where they were able to find Major Steen’s name.

The club has many other trips planned. The biggest event is the Heroes Ride, which will be held July 21 in Rochester.  After the ride in Rochester, some will ride to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Utah and Colorado. Along the way they sightsee and meet up with other POW/MIA Riders from across the nation. Wherever they ride, they talk about their mission and help others who have lost someone by listening and sharing their own experiences.

Saterdalen now has artwork on his motorcycle to help initiate conversations about coming together in unity to show patriotism, something that will be a fitting message as people celebrate Independence Day this week.

He wants to emphasize that we live in a great nation with remarkable men and women who have served or are currently serving our country; we must remember and honor them, for without them we wouldn’t be who we are today and he is doing his part to further that message.

“We will never forget,” he promised.