More than seven decades earlier Bill Peck, on the sands of North Africa, had maintained similar olive drab machines to the one in front of him Friday.
Peck, a WWII Veteran of the U.S. Army’s campaign against Axis forces in the Second World War, was reunited with a Harley-Davidson WLA as part of his 97th birthday celebration. Years ago, he had told a driver with VISTE, an organization that provides services to elders, that he wanted a photo with the motorcycle.
Don Huffman, the retired former owner of Harley-Davidson of Lakeland, has one, and welcomed Peck to take the seat of the motorcycle that was at the center of his service in the U.S. Army.
“I have seen each part on this thing,” Peck said, like the leather scabbard formed for a Tommy Gun mounted to the front fork, the blackout headlight and the 45-cubic-inch twin cylinder “high compression” motor that would run on 74-octane gas.
There’s a picture of Peck in North Africa, the myriad parts of the motor spread out on a tarp used for weather protection, a gas can for his work bench.
“We have repair manuals if you want to go to work,” Huffman joked.
“I don’t need them,” Peck responded.