I first met Fred in the late 80' s while I was a young Captain in the U.S. Army stationed at Fort Knox. I was tasked by the commanding general to find one or two WWII motorcycles to lead a parade for the annual Armor Conference.
I reached out to Fred and inquired if he had information as to where I might obtain the services of this kind of equipment. Fred shared with me that he not only had two of these vehicles, but that he and Skip would be willing to personally come to Fort Knox and to dress in period clothing to lead the parade. The post commander was certainly pleased to learn that the parade would be led by these vintage vehicles.
Afterwards, in a briefing to the general, I suggested that it would be a nice gesture of thanks to Fred, who paid for this out of his pocket, to see if he, his son Rick, and good friend Skip, would like to come back to Fort Knox to the firing range and drive the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and to each shoot a few main gun rounds from the new Abrams tank. The CG thought that this was a splendid idea.
I made the call to Fred and we made arrangements for all three to come back to Fort Knox. For me, the privilege of sharing this experience with Fred, Rick, and Skip was priceless. Fred was on cloud nine after driving the Bradley, and the experience was topped off with Fred hitting the target three out of three times with the main gun of the Abrams.
Fred was a true patriot, and I am blessed to have known him.
To Lani, Rick, and the rest of the Ropkey family including Skip, my heartfelt and sincerest condolences. I will keep you all in my prayers.