CORSICANA , TX — Booze, brawls and roadway rowdiness may comprise the stereotype for a motorcycle gang, but these things don’t define the philosophy of the international motorcycle club known as the Blue Knights. A local chapterhas been proving its worth as a positive force in the community. “We’re the good guys,” said Jimmie Hensley, vice president of Chapter 43 of the Texas division of the Blue Knights, a nonprofit fraternity comprised of active and retired law enforcement officers. “A small percentage of outlaw riders have given the public a distorted view. The truth is, most motorcycle riders are safe, law-abiding citizens. I want people to know that the Blue Knights are God-fearing, family-oriented people who promote safe motorcycle riding,” Jimmie added.
The Blue Knights is also a charitable entity, raising funds primarily for medically-challenged children through such organizations as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Make-A-Wish and D.A.R.E. But, Hensley pointed out that Chapter 43 also concentrates on local charities like the Child Advocacy Center of Navarro County and Corsicana’s House of Refuge. “Helping kids is dear to our hearts,” Jimmie explained. “Most of the causes we support are related to aiding kids in need.”
Founded in Maine in 1974, the Blue Knights now maintain more than 600 chapters throughout the United States and in 29 other countries, with a total membership of over 20,000. Originally from Brady, Texas, Jimmie has been with the Corsicana Police Department for 26 years and has been a member of the Blue Knights since the ’80s, initially joining Chapter 26 in Big Springs and, later, Chapter 21 in Waxahachie. He transferred his membership to Chapter 43 when it was established in Corsicana two years ago. “Chapter 43 of the Texas Blue Knights Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club was created in the fall of 2009,” Jimmie said. “Corsicana Police Sergeant Kenneth Kirkwood, currently president of Chapter 43, and other officers spearheaded the effort. I was elected vice president of the chapter, a position I hold at this time.”
Active in municipal law enforcement for 37 years, Jimmie spent two years as a military policeman in the United States Army, served a tour in Vietnam and a year in private security in Vallejo, California. When he joined the Corsicana Police Department in 1986, Jimmie worked in undercover narcotics. He has since served as detective corporal, field training officer, SWAT sniper, hostage negotiator and, for the past 15 years, patrol sergeant.
Jimmie was motivated to join the Blue Knights mainly because of his love of bike riding. “I ride my motorcycle on cross-country trips,” he said, “but also just to the store and back. Every day, if it’s not raining or icy, I ride it to work and back home.”
The organization’s family focus also appealed to him. “It’s
a great way to meet and socialize with other officers, but just about every motorcycle ride or event is also open to members’ families.” Besides the social aspect, Jimmie is proud of the work the Blue Knights accomplish to aid public safety and promote a greater understanding between police officers and the larger community. “Texas 43 strives to advance the sport and the safety of motorcycling,” he pointed out. “And we hope to develop a fraternal spirit between law enforcement personnel and the general public. The majority of people only get to interact with law enforcement officers when they are suffering duress. Through contact with members of the Blue Knights the public can see the human side of officers.”
For all the networking and public interaction, it’s the charitable dimension of the Blue Knights that grounds the organization as a valuable contributor to the betterment of life in Corsicana and Navarro County. “Each year, the members of Texas 43 decide on an organization or function to help support for that year,” Jimmie outlined. “For the past two years Texas 43 has sponsored a motorcycle run to raise money for our chosen charities. We also participate in the local Toys for Tots motorcycle run and the Corsicana High School Calicos’ fundraising motorcycle run.” In addition to benefits like these, the Blue Knights serve as escorts at events for wounded veterans and at funerals for vets killed in action.
Membership in the Blue Knights is a fulfilling experience, Jimmie maintained. He especially enjoys overnight cross- country group rides with other officers and their families, visiting places like Three Sisters in the Texas Hill Country and the mountains around Little Rock, Arkansas. He recalled an inspiring group trip he took a few years ago to Big Bend National Park. “At a little town called Terlingua, we stopped at a local store to have a cool drink and stretch our legs,” he said. “We sat on the porch watching the dirt devils play across the parking lot and between our motorcycles. Soon some locals came by, asking about our bikes and our club. Somebody took out a banjo and began to pick and sing. The next thing we knew, the porch was filled. These people just opened their arms and treated us like family. I hope to go back there someday.”
Another experience that made a deep impression on Jimmie was being part of a Blue Knights escort for World War II veterans on their way to Love Field to fly to Washington, D.C. “They were headed for a guided tour of the World War II Monument,” Jimmie said. “Because of their age and finances, it would be the only time some of them would be able to visit the memorial. When we arrived at the terminal, the Blue Knights formed two lines and the veterans walked between them, shaking our hands and thanking us. It was one of the most humbling and moving experiences I’ve ever been a part of.”
Knowing that the group’s efforts on behalf of children is making a difference in the community Jimmie loves is the most gratifying part of being a member of Texas 43. “Every fundraiser we have conducted or assisted with has been rewarding,” he said. “The knowledge that, while having fun, we are able to help others in need is satisfying. As for the kids, they are the soft spot in every officer’s heart.”
Going forward, Jimmie hopes the public’s continued interaction with the Blue Knights will encourage people to become more supportive, trustful and friendly toward law enforcement officers. “We want to give the community our friendship, our time and our efforts to assist anyone in need,” Jimmie stated.
As the organization plans for next year’s events, Jimmie insists his and fellow members’ dedication to aid local children will continue unabated. “The reward is the excitement in the kids’ eyes and their smiles from ear to ear. God bless
Written by Randy Bigham.