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Max Meier: Retired Colonel Army Chaplain, Vietnam

AKA The Bicycle Chaplain

His assignment was to the 1st Air Cavalry Division as the chaplain of Division Artillery.. This comprised artillery units spread over thirteen areas that he flew to on a regular basis in a military helicopter.

On one visit, February 28, 1969, at Landing Zone (LZ), St. Barbara which was near Tay Ninh. Chaplain Meier noticed several men riding bicycles around the LZ. Naturally he was curious as to where they came from. He was told , much like Little Boy Blue, they were found under some hay. In addition, they had Viet Cong mortars on them. He told me he then said, “If you find more, could you get one for me to ride around the Division Area?” Until then, his methods of transportation were walking or flying.

Two weeks later he was informed that a bike had been found. On March 13th, he took a rope and tied his bike inside the back of the Light Observation Helicopter bringing it back to the division area where he stayed. From that time going forward it was his daily mode of
transportation in the division area. He rotated home in July but knew he had to get that bike home too.

In his words, “I registered the bike as a war trophy. It was placed into a case that was built for it and then it was shipped to my new assignment at Homestead AF Base in Florida.” The bike had no brakes (never did) so riding it a lot in the States wasn’t going to happen. It
wasn’t ridden but racked up many miles. Max took it from Florida to Illinois, Fort Knox, KY, Fort McCellan, AL., and finally West Des Moines, IA. It was hung up for 35 plus years until he gave it to the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum at Camp Dodge.

There she rests. Over the years, “ I had put in tubes and tried to pump her up but the valves were different. I did buy a pump that would work but my wife may have thrown it out not knowing what it was.” This paragraph is in the words of our own biking chaplain. He knew a treasure when he saw it : wife and bike!

Interview summary provided by Anne Scherer, American Legion Post 663 Auxiliary Unit.

Watch Max Meier on YouTube: “Vietnam Veteran Chaplain risked his life for God and Country