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John E. Harley John E. Harley

Youngest son of founder William S. Harley who recruited and trained WWII combat riders.

The younger of two sons of William S. Harley, John was assigned to the Armored Force School at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, during World War II and given the job of recruiting soldiers to ride motorcycles. This was no simple task, since less than a third of GIs had a vehicle operator's license of any kind. The resourceful Lieutenant Harley toured the country recruiting motorcycle enthusiasts, networked through AMA clubs throughout the nation, and matched AMA membership records against draft board rolls to identify skilled and experienced motorcyclists already in the military in his effort to find personnel qualified to operate the tens of thousands of WLAs used for the war effort. Harley also assisted in the training of motorcycle troops. He rose to the rank of major, and upon returning to civilian life became the head of the Motor Company's parts and accessories division. He represented Harley-Davidson on the board of the American Motorcyclist Association until his death in 1976.