Standing alongside his new Harley Davidson motorcycle Friday, Cpl. Donald Hole wiped away tears as his fellow soldiers crowded in around him.

“I can’t believe you guys,” Hole said.

Hole is a member of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, which returned from a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan in April. In February, Hole’s daughter, Megan, 25, was murdered in Indiana.

As Hole flew back to the states, his fellow soldiers pondered a gift for him. Spc. Joseph Catlin, who has been friends with Hole since 2009, said they collected money for flowers, but also wanted to give Hole something else.

During the deployment, Catlin said several of the soldiers, including himself, had purchased motorcycles. Catlin had heard Hole say he wanted a motorcycle but couldn’t afford one. Catlin took up a collection in the unit to buy a motorcycle for Hole, raising more than $2,500.

Catlin purchased a 1992 Harley Davidson Sportster with the money. He had the bike’s paint job done by Centurion Customs in Rocky Point, N.Y., and had it shipped to Fort Campbell earlier this month.

“We got it here and everything went wrong,” Catlin said. “We had a break leak, a fuel leak and an oil leak.”

Catlin took the bike to Bo’s Cycle Shop in Clarksville, Tenn., for repairs. After Catlin told them about Hole’s hardship, he said the shop’s staff wanted to help fix up the bike. He said they contributed more than $1,300 in parts for the motorcycle.

“These guys just approached us needing a little bit of help and it was the right thing to do,” said Joe Yother, the shop’s head technician. “We did a lot of maintenance and upkeep work on it so the man can enjoy it.”

Catlin said the bike probably cost around $5,000 altogether. He said he was happy to give something to his friend.

“We are really close here,” Catlin said. “When you live with each other for so long, you become like friends and family.”

The motorcycle was presented to Hole in a ceremony outside a maintenance hanger at Fort Campbell. After the ceremony, he enjoyed hugs and handshakes from his fellow soldiers.

“Everybody in this unit is my family,” Hole said. “I can’t say enough about them.”

REACH DENNIS O’NEIL at 270-887-3237 or doneil@kentuckynewera.com.

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