Patriot Guard Riders
The Connecticut Patriot Guard Riders started off this issue standing a flag line on July 3rd at the town green in Moodus for a Welcome Home for Army Sgt. Mathew Prue returning from Afghanistan. On July 6th, we had a pair of missions. The first an Honor Mission in Taftville for Robert Richardson, a Navy veteran who server as a diver from 1962-1966, following which he was a firefighter in Norwich until retiring in 2003. The second July 6th mission was a dual Welcome Home in East Hampton for Navy Seebee Christopher Abbott (returning from overseas duty) and Navy 3rd Class Petty Officer Cody Flannery (returning from Afghanistan).
The next day, July 7th, we had three missions. Another Welcome Home for Sr. Airman Andrea Carnelli returning from Afghanistan, the Fourth of July parade in Enfield, and a Honor Mission in Norwich for Alvin Ridgway, who served 26 years active and reserve in the Marines, serving in Korea commanding a mobile rocket unit where he received the Purple Heart,. On July 12th, we had an Honor Mission in Naugatuck for Joseph DeNomme, who served in the Army Air Corps during WWII as a ball-turret gunner in a B-24 Liberator bomber. During the escort from the funeral home to the church, I had the honor of carrying one of his grand-daughters in the sidecar, she loved it and hopefully it gave her a pleasant memory of that day.
On Friday July 13th, we had an Honor Mission in Cheshire and Middletown for Everett “Ev” Cassagneres, who served in the Army in Korea, earning two Purple Hearts. Ev was a dancing partner of CT PGR’s “Tiara” Linda and he was a private pilot for many years, flying at Rhinebeck Aerodrome in New York state, and he was also a personal friend of Charles Lindbergh. On July 17th, we had a Honor Mission in Bristol for Henry Raymond who enlisted at the age of 17 and served in the Army during three wars, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, retiring after 36 years of service. He was also a 43 year veteran of the Terryville Volunteer Fire Department who participated in his funeral service, providing an Honor Guard and carrying his casket in one of their fire engines during the procession.
On July 24th we had a Honor Mission in Bakerville for Philip Dubourg, an Army veteran. Philip died in a motorcycle accident in Alaska, hitting a moose while on the way to visit his son who is stationed at Eielson Air Force Base. On July 28th we had another pair of missions. The first a Honor Mission in New London for David Neal, an Army veteran. The second was a flag line at a ceremony at the “Run for the Fallen” in Glastonbury. This is a run honoring the 63 heroes from CT killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9-11. CT PGR’s own Cliff ran the majority of the 63km run. Cliff runs marathons yet smokes cigars, I can’t figure it out. A couple other CT PGR members participated in the run, or provided vehicular escort during it.
On July 31st, we stood a flag line at the Hartford Armory at the Troop Send-Off for the CT National Guard. The 143rd Military Police Company and the 248th Engineer Company are being deployed to support Operation Enduring Freedom. Afterwards, we were standing outside across the street, and a couple mothers who had sons being deployed came over to thank us for being there. Made my day. We will be there again next year standing another flag line at the Armory when we welcome them ALL back home.
On August 1st, we were honored to stand a Honor Mission in Forestville and Bristol for Gold Star Mother Josephine Ryder, who lost her son Aldo in Vietnam. Even though she wasn’t technically a veteran, the PGR stands for those that stand for us, and the PGR stands for those that stand with us. The next day August 2nd, we stood a Honor Mission in Norwich for Gaetano “Tom” Mazzarella, who served in theMarine Corps and the Army National Guard in WWII and Korea. Tom served on Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Peleliu, and Tarawa, among other Pacific Island campaigns, earning a Silver Star and a Purple Heart in the process.
The final mission was a very special one for us. Wes Newth, who along with his mother, father, and brothers has stood many a flag line with us, was heading out for Marine Corps Basic Training. We stood a flag line at Wes’s home in Vernon, impressing the recruiter who came to pick him up. The rain held off until just after Wes left, which was rather fitting since his father told me that Wes was born in the middle of one of the worst rain storms that he had ever seen.
That’s it for the missions since the last CT Cruise News issue deadline. We hope we provided some peace to the familys of the heroes we paid our final respects to. 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.
Go to our website www.ctpatriotguard.org to check it out or to join up. (Article by Jay D Koonz)