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Veteran recovering from serious motorcycle crash after visiting Chattanooga shooting memorials

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

A veteran traveled to Chattanooga to show his support for the servicemen killed in last month's shooting rampage, and ended up in a fight for his own life. 

Jim Bachman is a member of the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association. He was one of more than 100 bikers riding in support of the five servicemen gunned down at a military installation last month. 

Bachman was on his way back to Nashville when he crashed in Marion County on July 25, suffering serious injuries. He has been upgraded from critical condition. He's still in pain, but has a long recovery ahead of him -- and says he considers himself "extremely lucky" to be alive.

"The road wasn't that bad, we weren't going that fast. I'm convinced the heat exhaustion played a part in it," Bachman said on Day 11 of his hospital stay at Erlanger on Tuesday.

He suffered 10 broken ribs, a broken shoulder and a collapsed lung after crashing his motorcycle on the way home from visiting the Chattanooga memorials.

The week after the shooting, the Vietnam veteran organized a ride to Chattanooga for 125 members of the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association out of the Nashville area.

"I just felt it was so important for me and my guys personally to come down here. We just had to do it," Bachman said.

Despite the long road ahead of him, Bachman has no regrets after taking the trip.

The ride was a way for the retired Army Colonel to help channel his grief and frustration for what happened -- and to show his support for the military.

"It's an extended family. I never met them (the fallen five). Still, they're my brothers," explained Bachman.

After stopping by both memorials, Bachman headed home. He made it to Marion County, but doesn't remember anything else.

"On those mountain roads was where I had my accident," he said.

Bachman blames a long day in the heat, and admits he didn't eat enough food or drink enough water before losing control on a patch of loose gravel.

He said his daughter was supposed to be on the bike with him, but plans changed last minute.

Now he's counting his blessings.

"It's a strange feeling how those pieces could fall in place, and everybody came through safe. Somebody was looking after us," he said.

Bachman hopes to leave the hospital this week, so he can move to a rehab facility closer to home. While he's not sure if he'll be able to get back on a bike again, his plans are to heal up and continue his work helping veterans.

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