The Art Inventory

A Story of Wright Bros., Inner Tubes & Kuwait

by Kirby Lindsay, posted 4 May 2012


Charles Hadrann, at Wright Bros. Cycle Works, with a banner signed by soldiers serving at Camp Buehring, Kuwait Photo by K. Lindsay, Apr '12

On April 15th, Fremont resident and business owner, Charles Hadrann, and his daughter Wing, traveled down to Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) to accept a Certificate Of Appreciation from the United States Army Central Command.  Hadrann still speaks of his experience with wonder in his voice.  He still marvels that an inquiry letter sent from Kuwait to his shop in Fremont shop could have such a profound, and long-distance, impact.

Each Positive Action Has A Reaction

Hadrann has experience with community projects, and the ripple effect they produce.  In the nearly 40 years he’s operated his business, Wright Bros. Cycle Works, he’s been an active member of the community.  Since he joined the Doric Lodge #92, and taken on the roles of Chairman of the Temple Board and Chaplain, he’s been able to do even more with the help of his Mason brothers.

“I think it’s important that you try to give back, and try to do a little good each day,” Hadrann explained, “I want to spark people.”  He also seems to enjoy the sparks he gets.  Last December, he related, the Doric Lodge gave 10 Christmas trees to low income families at B.F. Day Elementary School.  That donation connected them with the Family Support program at the school, and led them to ‘adopt’ three families who needed help filling the area beneath their tree.  “If we hadn’t given the trees,” Hadrann explained, “we wouldn’t have known these families.”

The proud display of gifts presented to Charles Hadrann for his donation of a bike repair facility - in a box - on display at Wright Bros Cycle Works Photo by K. Lindsay, Apr '12

Doing good is what led the Lodge to him in the first place.  Hadrann met the Masons when they needed bike helmets and locks for their annual ‘Bikes For Books’ literacy program for children.  Now a member, Hadrann organizes Community Potluck & Dance gatherings at Lodge 92 to benefit B.F. Day and FamilyWorks food bank – and that, in turn, has led his daughter into volunteering once a week at the food bank.

A Question On Bike Repair

As for his visit to JBLM last April, “this all came from a letter I got in May 2011,” Hadrann reported.  The letter came from Logistics Officer Captain Suyat at Camp Buehring, Kuwait.  He said they had bikes on the helicopter base, and needed advice on how to fix them.  Later Hadrann would ask how they found him, and Captain Suyat explained that one of the soldiers on the base, before being deployed from JBLM, had visited Seattle and remembered Wright Bros.  They looked up the shop on the web and Captain Suyat wrote for assistance.

These bikes aren’t just convenient for the soldiers.  The heat can make a walk across the base – to eat lunch or retrieve supplies – an endurance exercise.  The U.S. Army’s permanent aviation base camp in Kuwait, Camp Buehring covers a huge area.  The soldiers, including those from Aviation Task Force Raptor – ARCENT, risk heat exhaustion when they have to cross its vast, desert surface.

Hadrann responded to the letter by e-mail, asking for more photos so he could better diagnose the problems.  They had asked the right person, since Wright Bros. operates as a workshop and classroom for the repair and/or modifications of bicycle(s,) by bike owners and Hadrann.

A commemorative flag, presented to Charles Hadrann of Wright Bros Cycle Works, in thanks for a bike repair facility he provided Camp Buehring, Kuwait Photo by K. Lindsay, Apr '12

“The bikes looked in bad shape,” Hadrann said.  Captain Suyat sent photos of the 54 bikes, and 8 cannibalized frames, they had.  Hadrann identified rusty chains, destroyed grips, brakes not hooked up, and many other problems.  “’You don’t need a few items,’” Hadrann responded, “’you need a complete repair facility.’”

An Answer Larger Than Expected

By July 2011, Hadrann had gathered enough supplies to fill 14 boxes.  One contained 48 lbs. of tools.  He also packed up two repair stands, and assorted parts/supplies including tires, grips, rear wheels, inner tubes, brakes, brake pads, floor pumps, etc.

However, three of the boxes had nothing to do with bike supplies whatsoever.  These three contained canned salmon, cigars, Mexican drinking chocolate, Seattle coffee, magazines, chips & salsa, and assorted other goodies soldiers might find handy.

Everything was donated – mostly by Hadrann but he also tapped his Lodge brothers and Wright Bros. contacts.  He delivered the boxes to Ft. Lewis Logistics, and even with a few weeks hang up in customs the boxes arrived in Kuwait in July.

A Fremont institution, Wright Bros. Cycle Works has been a part of the Center of the Universe since the 1970s Photo by K. Lindsay, Sep '09

“It was almost a little bit humbling,” Hadrann reported about the ceremony in April, when he got to meet Captain Suyat.  He also met Specialist First Class Pepé Valdez, the soldier that used the repair facility (set up in an air-conditioned container structure on the base) to rebuild 44 of the bikes.  “When I see the women and the men there, and the dedication there, I see the American way,” Hadrann stated of the ceremony.

The honor has sharpened Hadrann’s dedication to service, for bike riders and non.  He may not organize another community potluck this summer, he admitted, but it isn’t from lack of interest.  “My season is just starting,” he said about the bicycle industry, “it’s our seven days a week time,” from May to October.

He acknowledges sacrifices he has made to serve his community, and said, “I would do it again.”  He’d answer another letter from Kuwait, or organize another Community Potluck, given the chance.  It is what he does, and being honored by Central Command – and the banner signed by grateful soldiers serving at Camp Buehring – only provide him with encouragement.

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©2012 Kirby Lindsay.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.


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