Patriot Guard Riders
The Connecticut Patriot Guard Riders started off this issue with a Honor Mission on July 1st in Middletown for George Handle Jr, who had 9 years of active service in the Army (1st Infantry, the Big Red One) including service in Vietnam. Two days later on July 3rd, we had a pair of missions. The first a Honor Mission in Bloomfield for Robery Claffey, a Staff Sergeant in the 50th MP Battalion in the Army. The second a Special Mission / Welcome Home in Moodus for Navy Lt Commander Philip Moore. It’s always rewarding showing our support for our military as they return from deployment. It’s always rewarding to see the community come out and join us. A couple days later, several members rode in the Enfield “4th of July” parade.
On July 10th, we stood a flag line at a “Honor and Remember” flag presentation in West Suffield to the family of Army Pvt Samuel Mercouriou who died during training at Ft. Benning in Georgia. We stood the original Honor Mission for this 18 year old back in December 2011. On July 12th, we had another pair of missions. The first a Honor Mission in Plainfield for Maurice Fontaine, who served in the Navy aboard DD-537 “The Sullivans” (a Fletcher class destroyer) from 1957 to 1961. USS The Sullivans was named after the 5 Sullivan brothers lost when the USS Juneau was sunk during the battle of Guadalcanal during WWII. The second mission that day was holding a flag line at the American Legion in West Hartford to greet Micah Welintukonis. Micah was severely injured in Afghanistan in 2012 during his 3rd tour, when he was rushing to the aid of injured soldiers. Micah was a medic. He was walking 60 miles across CT to pay back organizations that provided support during his recovery. We greeted him at his destination with the flag line, where the CT PGR provided him with a generous donation to show our support.
On July 13th, we stood a Honor Mission at the cemetery in Cromwell for James Lee who served in the CT National Guard. We had stood an earlier flag line at this veterans funeral back in February. We had a quiet spell for a week and then a Special Mission on July 23rd in East Hampton, a Yellow Ribbon Tying ceremony for Army 1st Lieutenant Matthew Rogers and Army Specialist Kurt Schluntz who are deploying in support of OEF. We wish them both a safe journey. The next day, July 24th, we had a Honor Mission in Niantic and East Lyme for Paul Losacano, who served 3 years as a Marine and then in the CT National Guard.
July 26th brought a pair of missions, and strangely enough neither was a Honor Mission. The first was a flag line at a “Forgotten War” ceremony at Camp Niantic hosted by the Commissioner of Veteran Affairs to honor Korean veterans. An anonymous donor paid the entry fee for the subsequent picnic on base and we thank him for his generosity. The second mission was a multi-state escort for a deploying Army unit, starting with the RI PGR who handed it off to the CT PGR who handed it off to the NY PGR. Several CT PGR members rode the escort and one member even donated his flags (and the bike’s flag mounts actually) to the cause, leaving them as a roadside memorial along the way.
On July 27th we had another pair of missions, both of the feel-good type. The first was a Welcome Home at the Hartford Armory for some units returning from deployment in OEF. The “1109th Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group”, the “11th MP Detachment (Military Working Dog” and the “928th MP Detachment (Military Working Dog Kennel Master Team” were all honored. After a filling lunch at “Catsup and Mustard” in Manchester, we provided an escort and stood a flag line at a Purple Heart Homes ceremony in Manchester. Army SSgt Sandra Lee was presented with the keys to a remodeled/enlarged house in recognition of her service. SSgt Lee was injured in four separate IED explosions in Iraq and suffered physical and emotional injuries. It was a long HOT flag line while the politicians spoke, but it was rewarding to see the community come out in support of this veteran who gave so much.
We finished the month off with a CT PGR picnic in Portland, a chance for us all to unwind, and a chance for Michael Freedman to present the CT PGR with a check for $9,753.56, half the proceeds from a recent Chili-cookoff. Once again, we offer our deepest thanks for Michael and his crew for their support.
That’s it for the missions since the last CT Cruise News issue deadline. We hope we provided some peace to the families 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.