Connecticut Cruise News – Apr/May 2012

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Patriot Guard Riders

The Connecticut Patriot Guard Riders started off this issue standing a flag line on Mar 10th in Greenwich for Peter Robbins, who served in the Army as a MP in Vietnam. Afterwards, Peter joined the Greenwich Police Department in 1970, becoming the Police Chief in 1997, before retiring in 2002. Two days later, on Mar 12th, we stood another Honor Mission in Westbrook for James Lorello, who served as a Corporal in the Army.

On Mar13th we had another Honor Mission. This one was in Norwich for Benjamin DeMond who was an Army veteran of Korea and a Norwich firefighter. Benjamin was tragically killed at the age of 33 in an auto accident after being hit by a drunk driver. His 4 and 6 year old sons were also in the car but are recovering. Fire departments from all over the state showed up to show their respect for this fallen first-responder. Let’s be careful out there folks, and never ever drink and drive. Four days later, on Mar 17th, we had another Honor Mission in Newington and New Britain for Thomas Budrejko, a Lt Col in the Marines. He was killed in a Marine Corps helicopter training accident near Yuma Arizona along with 6 other fellow Marines. Thomas was a AH-1W Cobra pilot and had served combat tours in Kosovo, three to Iraq, and another to Afghanistan. He was from a military family with his father and great-uncle also being Naval Aviators.

On Mar 19th we had another Honor Mission in Waterbury for Brian Bonvisuto who served in the Army Reserves. I experienced this one from the other side. I was with Brian when he died. I was one of Brian’s pallbearers and rode my motorcycle escorting Brian on his final journey. After talking to his parents and sons and experiencing it myself, you don’t know how much the show of support and the flag line standing there is appreciated. On Mar 23rd, we had another Honor Mission in Shelton for Pasquale “Pat” Fririhio who served in the Army in Korea. He was also a member of the American Legion and they were represented with an Honor Guard as they always do as a sign of their final respects for fellow post members. On Mar 28th, we had another Honor Mission in Terryville and Bristol for Donald Dlugokenski who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. Donald served on the aircraft carrier USS America CVA-66 on Yankee Station off the coast of Vietnam. It was raining pretty good when we arrived early at the cemetery, but it had cleared up by the time of the service. Funny how someone/somehow these things work out sometimes.

The CT PGR was honored to stand a flag line at a pair of “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans” events, one in Cromwell on Mar 30th and a second at the Hartford Armory on Mar 31st. These are long overdue and it’s gratifying to see the country pay their long-overdue respects to these heroes of that distant unpopular war. Also on Mar 31st, we stood the flag line for a Welcome Home of the 103rd Airlift Wing of the Connecticut National Guard. These are the kind of feel-good missions, welcoming our heroes home to their families, that we really enjoy doing.

The last mission for this issue was another Honor Mission on Apr 5th in New London for Junius Stubbs, who served in the Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga and later in the Naval Reserves.

That’s it for the missions since the last CT Cruise News issue deadline. As always, we invite you to come out and join us in our mission to honor this country’s veterans at their funeral services. Come out to one, grab a Flag and stand alongside us, experience the same satisfaction the rest of us do. You’ll be back.

The CT Patriot Guard has a new website, that we’re extremely proud of. Go to www.ctpatriotguard.org to check it out or to join up.                                                                                                         (Article by Jay D Koonz)