Not Just A Pretty Face

Article By: Chris Callen

Originally Published In The August 2013 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

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This month’s pin-up is not like any other we’ve featured in the magazine before. Normally it’s just a cool shot of a hottie with a bitchin’ bike and a few words of text about who did what. Well, I recently got a call about a girl that lives in my hometown that my buddies said I had to use for the pin-up of the month. As you might imagine, I get this bit a lot so I said sure, why not. I went off one day to meet her, but when I sat down with this beautiful young blonde woman and started to listen to her story, I couldn’t in the name of women riders just put a hot picture of her in and nothing else — the story is too good. So instead, I chose the hot picture and also to blow your mind with some extra info on Sergeant Amanda Wensel — United States Army. At first glance, you see an attractive young lady; if you spend some time around her you will see a girl that loves to fix and ride her own bike. If you get lucky enough to sit and talk with her you will find the no bullshit attitude inside her like you’d expect to find in a seasoned old war veteran. That probably makes you think, yeah right, but let me explain some of this lady’s background. As a kid, she kinda tooled around with cars and stuff with her father and granddad as mentors, but not too much. It was after her first eight year stint in the military as a “paper bitch” (her words), that she really started getting into the mechanical side of life. She came out of the Army in 2003 and began to work for a company called Westinghouse Air Brake. Later, they started laying people off and she already missed Army life so she reclassed into the mechanics. “I don’t like a desk job. I’m not that girly girl, never gonna be one. I like to f**k shit up and build it,” said Amanda. Well, the mechanics’ division of the Army found her deployed in Northern Afghanistan in Fob Kunduz.

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Her method of service was a construction equipment mechanic who is also qualified as a recovery specialist. Now this is something special because not many women are qualified to be out in the field — combat certified. To let you know what this job description is you have to know a few other elements of Army life in Afghanistan. Amanda was attached to a group who performed route clearance, which means they clear bombs and obstructions from any route that other troops doing missions or locals may have to use. Insurgents like to plant IEDs on these routes so it takes a full-time crew to keep the road clear. In a nine vehicle convoy, Amanda would follow in an MRV, which is like a big tow truck on steroids. If something would happen to any of the other vehicles in the convoy — take fire, become disabled — her team would hook on to them and pull the vehicle to safety. This leads to the story of how she became a decorated war vet. On one of these r o u t i n e missions, on a route they had been on a million times, the convoy pulled up to the halfway mark where everyone normally takes a piss break and has a smoke, and they were attacked. Just as Amanda was getting back into her truck, the vehicle next to her took a hit from an RPG. Only one truck could turn around at a time so they were like sitting ducks as she began to realize the truck that took that first hit was disabled. There were RPGs and small arms’ fire coming at them from out of the valley below. It was chaos, but Amanda was just waiting for the call. See, as a passenger she would get the orders over her headset to hook the truck up while the driver waited to split and drag the thing out of the kill zone. She kept waiting until finally she threw the headset down and jumped out. She knew they were in trouble and she had to act. Amanda explained, “You’d think you’d be scared shitless, but I felt nothing. I knew I had to get them out of there. It was f**kin awesome, it really was. People say I’m crazy, but it was probably the best experience I’ve ever had.”

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In February of 2013, she came off of active duty and was going crazy. She was just too used to how things were in the military. “When I put the uniform on, my stress level goes down. When I’m home on leave I wanna kill people. In the army you have a schedule and a routine, even if it was f**ked up it was a routine. No gossip time. When I get home it’s all drama. For the most part I’m pretty laid back. My motto is I’ll do anything twice just in case I f**ked it up the first time. I lived to make everyone else happy before, but now I don’t have time for that,” said Amanda. To occupy her idle hands and mind, she got this ‘88 Sportster, and since it came to her in a box, she rolled up her sleeves and went to work. After a quick 2 months she was on the road, the bike was running sick with new paint and some custom parts. The whole experience was so satisfying it encouraged her to start her own business. Amanda will be doing motorcycle repair, powder coating and auto body. She said that maybe in the offseason she will buy a few donor bikes and build some cool customs to sell. She just wants to be able to work for herself. Whatever she comes up with you can be sure she will make it happen. She has that attitude about her, and we’ll be checking in to see how the shop comes together. For now, I can tell you that the image you see at the beginning of this article was my reference for an oil painting that will be on display in the art gallery at the Broken Spoke in Sturgis this year. I’m calling her “Rock-n-Roll Girl” as part of a series so stay tuned to see how it goes, or check out my Facebook page for updates.

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