Bill McKinley and Randy Allison hadn't heard of each other until last weekend.
McKinley is a retired Moline firefighter and Vietnam veteran.
Allison is general manager at Key Auto Mall in Moline. He didn't serve in the military, but he feels an obligation to those who did.
And that's how they met.
When Allison's wife showed him a Facebook post Sunday that was written by McKinley's wife, the self-described "man of action" got moving. Serving veterans is Allison's way of serving his country, so he instantly enlisted.
The Facebook post explained about McKinley having tried for several years to get back the motorcycle he'd loaned to a local businessman and how the desire to get it back had become more urgent. McKinley is facing some health problems related to Agent Orange exposure, and his bike has always been a personal treasure.
"In 1964, Bill bought a 1958 Sportster, which he rode until Uncle Sam invited him on a trip to Vietnam in May of 1968," Rhonda Adam McKinley's post explained. "He spent his tour in Vietnam with the 25th Infantry Wolfhounds at CuChi from 1969-1970.
"Upon his return home, Bill spent a year chroming, painting and overhauling his '58 Sporty' to look like the red, white and blue bike in the movie 'Easy Rider.'
"Before deciding to work or go to college, Bill’s dad told him to get on his bike and go see what he had fought for. In the spring of 1971, Bill began a tour of the U.S., visiting 32 states and dipping into Mexico and Canada. During this trip he was able to visit some of the guys he served with in Vietnam.
"In January of 1972, Bill began a career as a local city firefighter and repainted his bike again."
Fast forward to about 2003. That's when the McKinleys tried out a then-new pizza joint downtown Moline called Bad Boy'z.
"Bill began talking to the owner, Scott (Hancock), about the theme of his place and told him about his Sporty," the post continued. "As time went on, Bill offered to let Scott use his bike on the wall above the bar. Scott agreed to display the history of the bike as part of the loan, so I typed up the story.
"The bike was mounted on the wall, but the story was never displayed. Scott used the bike in his advertising, and Bill and I received a few free pizzas, a few T-shirts and some hats."
About 10 years into the loan, McKinley said, he started trying to contact Hancock, calling the restaurant repeatedly and stopping in several times. He made more attempts than he can count, and employees at Bad Boy'z repeatedly assured him, he said, that Hancock would call him back. The call never came.
But the health problems did.
"I'm having some cancer issues related to the Agent Orange," McKinley said Tuesday. "I'm 70 — getting long in the tooth — and I'd like to get some things straightened out. Going back there to see the bike, it's brought back a lot of memories for me.
"He (Hancock) knows I never gave it to him. Do I have a bar bill? No. Do I owe him money? No. I honestly don't know what the problem is."
But Allison was bent on finding out.
"My wife put the post in front of me over the weekend, and I took it personally," he said. "I managed to get his (Hancock's) phone number, which no one would give to Bill. I started texting and leaving voicemail on Sunday, then Monday and Tuesday.
"I had already put in my mind: Come Tuesday, he wouldn't be able to ignore me. I am a man of action."
And he was correct.
By Wednesday, Allison heard back from Hancock, who assured him he was prepared to part with McKinley's motorcycle. Hancock did not respond to multiple requests for an interview.
"Scott is in full agreement to return the bike," Allison said. "He knows Bill is the rightful owner. I will take the bike down as part of my service to veterans. I'm looking for some help, because it needs to come down safely and without doing any damage."
On Wednesday, McKinley was stunned by the sudden progress after years of trying to get his bike back.
"I never heard of Randy Allison until four days ago," he said. "This is a God thing, to tell you the truth. I'd have never got it done by myself. Randy's my new best friend."
And what will McKinley do with the bike?
Though the two men didn't know it, McKinley and Allison have something in common: Both do volunteer work for veterans.
McKinley regularly drives a van to Iowa City, delivering vets to doctors' appointments. And Allison is a regular donor to veterans' groups, especially wounded soldiers.
"I don't have a CIB (Combat Infrantry Badge). I was a mechanic, keeping all types of vehicles running for supplying ammo and equipment to our committed combat troops in the field. I wasn't a hero," McKinley said.
"I won't be getting back on the bike," he said.
"Those combat veterans; I wouldn't mind getting the bike running and donating it to those guys. I think that would make Randy and I both happy."