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Black Berets Motorcycle Club

Written by  March 31, 2004

This month, I have the pleasure to share an interview with you about another veterans web site and motorcycle club in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I think you will find this club's charter to be an honorable one: supporting Prisoners of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) activities. As I mentioned in earlier reviews, the power of any veteran motorcycle web site resides in the character of the supporting motorcycle club. So, top off that coffee cup and let me introduce you to the Black Berets Motorcycle Club (BBMC)!

CC: How did your club get its start?

Peachz: The club's history dates back to 1990, founded in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The club was created to support activities and benefits which promote public awareness and empathy for the plight of the American POW/MIA as well as legislation, directed at satisfactorily resolving this situation.

CC: Has the club's purpose changed over the last 14 years, or remained the same?

Peachz: The club's original charter remains the same: support the POW/MIA cause. However, over time we have grown in membership, which has allowed us to support several motorcycle related concerns:

Promote motorcycle safety and awareness
Promote a positive image for motorcyclists
Support civic and veteran activities and benefits

CC: What is the significance of the Chapter name, Black Berets?

Peachz: It symbolizes the honor and respect for all POW/MIA.

CC: Is the Black Berets a national club?

Smiley: Our Chapter headquarters is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We also have a Chapter located in Japan. Currently we have members throughout the United States, South Korea and Iraq.

CC: What message does your club want to send to the community?

Peachz: Our main charter speaks directly to this question: To support all activities and benefits which promote public awareness and empathy for the plight of the American POW/MIA as well as legislation, directed at satisfactorily resolving this situation.

CC: Who are the Chapters' Presidents?

Peachz: The Chapter President for Albuquerque is Lee 'Loco' Cordova, a Navy and Army Veteran. Loco is also one of the original members and co-founder of both Chapters in Albuquerque and Japan. The Chapter President for Japan is 'Ski', a retired Navy veteran.

CC: Do you have any exclusions to your club membership?

Strut: All members must own and ride a Harley-Davidson, an Indian, or a true American-made motorcycle such as a custom-built motorcycle.

CC: How often do you meet?

Peachz: We meet officially twice a month.

CC: What is the cost to become a member?

Peachz: Initiation fees are $100. We also have monthly dues for all active charter, standard and associate members. Each member is responsible for purchasing the organization's emblem and beret; however, the club patch is the property of the club.

CC: How do you become a member?

Smiley: Any person who is considering membership to the Black Berets must be recommended and introduced to the organization by a member that is in good standing.

We offer several different types of membership: Active (Charter and Standard), Honorary, and Associate membership.

Active Charter (CM) membership requires that the member ride a motorcycle of American origin, regularly attend club meetings, be one of the original members, add two charter members for every 25 patched riders and support and promote the club purposes.

Active Standard (Non CM) membership requires that the member ride a motorcycle of American origin, regularly attend club meetings and support and promote the club purposes.

Honorary membership may be conferred upon an individual provided the recipient has contributed, or is currently contributing, a valued or distinguished service to the club; and is chosen by the executive board for such an honor.

Associate membership shall have the same membership requirements and privileges as an active standard member, except associate members may not vote or hold office.

CC: Do you have any local or national famous club members?

Peachz: Our long-standing Honorary member is the famous musician Bo Didley. We are proud to announce our most recent Honorary Chapter member, the fastest man on two wheels, Dave Campos.

In addition, we have many members that positively impact our communities and security of our Nation. The founding President Tom 'Strut' Baca, a retired veteran worked as the Veterans Service Officer for the New Mexico state under the direction of Louis Richard Rocco, a medal of honor recipient. We have two motorcycle shop owners: Crossroads Cycles in Rio Rancho, New Mexico and Harley-Davidson Fujisawa Japan. We proudly recognize our members currently serving on active duty in South Korea, Japan, Iraq and throughout the United States. Some members are city commissioners, 600 racing Legends car owner and driver, city workers, self employed members and an Officer in the Confederation of Clubs (OCC). Albuquerque Black Berets Motorcycle Club members are also members of American Bikers Aimed Toward Education (ABATE).

CC: What are some of the annual events your club sponsors?

Strut: The Black Berets sponsor and conduct the annual swap meet in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. We also support the Rio Rancho ABATE annual toy run, Easter charity event, Red River, New Mexico Memorial Rally, Albuquerque Support your Troops Run, Japanese/American Unity Party held at the only VFW on a military base worldwide in Camp Zama, Japan.

CC: Do you have both open and closed events and activities?

Peachz: We open most of our events to the public, as awareness to our POW/MIA charter is always our number one driver. We set aside certain events and activities for members only in order to continue to build upon our friendship and camaraderie.

CC: In the last 12 months, what most single event displayed the essence of your club?

Peachz: Supporting the 1st Annual Truth or Consequences Memorial Run on Veterans Day Weekend. This run supported the dedication of the Moving Wall bought and erected by Truth or Consequences residents and business owners.

CC: Does your club have any special rules the members must follow?

Loco: Yes, a member must not act out with professional dishonesty, work against the principles and purposes of the organization, nor injure the professional standing of another member.

CC: Do you have a special club patch or badge?

Peachz: Yes, the colors of the Black Berets Motorcycle Club are very special. They are the mainstays of the organization. The colors represent the plight of the POW/MIA of all foreign wars the United States and its allies have fought in.

Black beret: A symbol of honor and respect for POW/MIA.
Beret badge: Signifying remembrance of the POW/MIA. Lettering reads 'You Are Not Forgotten.'
Skull and crossbones: Symbolizing the death and destruction caused by war. In memory of those killed in Vietnam and all wars.
Gold: From the Medal of Honor, awarded for gallantry and bravery beyond the call of duty.
Silver: From the Silver Star, awarded for gallantry in action.
Black: 'Absence of Light' used throughout the emblem to show honor and respect for POW/MIA, and as a symbol of mourning for those killed in action in Vietnam and all wars.

CC: What else should I share with our readers about your club?

Loco: Over the years we have had the honor of knowing and working with very special people such as:

Dr. Victor 'Doc' Westphall. Doc along with his wife founded the Vietnam Veterans National Memorial in Angel Fire, New Mexico after their son was killed in combat in 1968 near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in South Vietnam.

Lieutenant General Edward D. Baca, is National Guard Bureau, Washington, D.C.

Dawn 'Peachz' Raia, Bikers News and Views. Peachz is County senior Plumbing/Mechanical inspector, 1st Rio Rancho ABATE Coordinator and the creator of our web site She does research for the club and has been a supporter for years.

The club was also privileged to have dealt with Virgie Townley, President of Region 9 for POW/MIA families. Virgie's husband, Captain Roy Townley was shot down over Laos in 1971.

We are always looking for new members to help support the cause. Not all members are in active service or veterans. Anyone with the dedication and meets the prospective requirements are welcome to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

CC: A special thank you to the following members of the BBMC for assisting me with this interview: Dawn 'Peachz' Raia, Lee 'Loco' Cordova, Ron 'Smiley' Chavez, and Tom 'Strut' Baca. You know there has to be a great story behind each one of these rider's nicknames!

CC: The more I look into these special veteran web sites and motorcycle clubs, the more I see so much good coming from them. After each review, I sit back in awe over freely given compassion, time and money to those in need, even though most are unknown to the riders themselves. It inspires me to do even more, and I thank all of you for your spirit of kindness and humanity.


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