Patriot Guard Riders
The Connecticut Patriot Guard Riders started off this issue with an escort of the “Wreaths Across America” truck through Connecticut, where it made stops in Enfield, Portland, Haddam, and Old Saybrook. At each stop there was a wreath laying ceremony with the local schoolchildren in attendance. It was gratifying to see the younger generation came out and show their support for this endeavor. Some CT PGR members followed the truck all the way to Arlington Cemetery and participated in laying the wreaths there.
On Dec 8th, we had an Honor mission in New London for Nicholas Muscarella, an Army veteran of WWII with the 88th Division serving in the European Theater, North Apennines, Po Valley, Italy. The next day, Dec 9th, we had another Honor mission. This one in Seymour for Thomas McCabe. A WWII Army veteran who served in the Pacific Theater on Saipan, attaining the ranks of Staff Sergeant then Technical Sergeant.
A few days later, on Dec 12th, we had our first pair of missions on the same day. Some members attended an Honor mission in Bridgeport for Anthony Antignani who served in the Navy during WWII and Korea. Others attended the Honor mission in Danbury for James Negri who served in the Army during the Korean War era, being stationed in Japan as a Morse code specialist.
Dec 17th brought another pair of missions. Some attended the Honor mission in Enfield and West Suffield for Sammuel Mercouriou, who served in the Army, CT National Guard, assigned to D Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 198th Infantry Brigade. Others manned the PGR booth at Operation ELF (Embracing Lonely Families) at the Hartford Armoury, providing a variety of cakes, cookies, and other deserts. Operation ELF is a kind of Christmas Party for children of deployed servicemen and women.
On Dec 19th we had another Honor mission. This one in Middlefield for Albert Burbank, who served as a Sgt. in the Air Force during Vietnam, and then as Chief of Police in Groton. Dec 22nd brought another Honor mission. This one in Groton for John Wodicka, a WWII Army veteran of the European and Asiatic-Pacific Theaters of Operations with the 46th Signal Heavy Construction Battalion in the Rhineland and Central Europe.
The day before Christmas, we had one of those “feel good” missions, a Heroes welcome home for Pfc. Tyler LaFlemme who is one of the youngest soldiers to return from Iraq and just turned 19! Pfc. Laflemme serves with the 82nd Airborne in the US Army, and made it home just in time to celebrate the holidays with his family. Tyler was pleased to arrive home to find both sides of the street lined with flags held by PGR, NLMC, friends and family.
Jan 9th brought our first Honor mission of the year, at Middletown Veterans Cemetery for Christopher Gibson, a Navy veteran. It’s always a somber occasion when we’re there, so many of our members have relatives and/or friends interned there, and they take time to visit their gravesites to say hi.
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. (Article by Jay D Koonz)