Well, the year has started off pretty busy for the PGR. On New Year’s Day, a half-dozen of us visited a group of Homeless Veterans living in tents in the woods, bringing along a couple portable generators and some Christmas stockings of goodies. We spent an hour or so talking with them, sharing a beer, getting to know them a little better. One of them expressed a desire for a PGR “Our Heroes Wear Uniforms” sweatshirt, so we gave him one as we were leaving, getting a very emotional thank-you in return. Leadership has been in contact with the group a few times time since, restocking their propane tanks and battery supply during the latest trip, and they are surviving the snow. We will keep monitoring & assisting as required. The New Year’s Day visit to them was a perfect “feel-good” mission to start off the year.
Jan 13th, we were called out on an Honor Mission for Francis Maguire, a US Navy submarine veteran of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. A week later, Jan 22, we had another Honor Mission for Donald Dunn, a US Army Air Corps B-17 tail gunner in WWII who survived a wheels-up landing and went on to serve in Korea also. This was a very COLD mission but there was still one former Navy Seal standing outside with us, lining the snowy path into the church, standing there in a short-sleeve shirt. Mind over matter, I guess. Soon after that, a good friend of one of our Ride Captains passed away. So on Jan 28th, we stood another Honor Mission for Clarence Douglass, a WWII Army veteran of D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge, whom we took for a sidecar ride last Veteran’s Day to cheer him up and honor his service.
Jan 29th, the PGR was honored to participate in a “Welcome Home” for Carlos Evans, a Marine Sergeant who lost both legs and his left hand to an IED in Afghanistan. Carlos has 6 years in the Corps and was on his 4th deployment. A well-attended feel-good event in Danbury giving us all a chance to meet Carlos and his young wife and three young daughters, and to thank him for his service.
On Jan 31st we closed out the month with another Honor Mission, for George Collette a WWII B-25 pilot. That same week, on Feb 5th we stood for John Henri, a WWII Navy veteran, a sonar-man on the USS Orion. This was the first service this year with a bagpiper in attendance, and the flag that covered the coffin was flown in Iraq, his son who served there provided it. Another Honor Mission on Feb 7th was for Kevin McKeon, an Army Vietnam Era veteran who served in Alaska. He was the brother-in-law of one of the CT PGR members making this an especially moving mission. Three days later, on Feb 10th we had another Honor Mission, for John Perugini, a Korean War Marine veteran. It was chilly and hard to find a place for all the people and flags in the limited plowed-out space at the cemetery, but we made it work.
We had a 2nd mission on Feb10th. One of our members, a Newtown High School student, Sean Decker, had constructed a “Wall of Heroes” at Newtown High School, depicting all the Heroes we have lost from CT in Iraq and Afghanistan. On the 10th, there was a ceremony to dedicate it with the families of the fallen in attendance along with a Marine Color Guard and the Patriot Guard lining the sides of the room with American flags. I have to mention the amazing singing of the Star-Spangled-Banner by a Newtown High School student Taylor Varga, which was orders of magnitude better than the Super Bowl performance of that same song.
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.
Go to www.patriotguard.org for more information or to join up.