Patriot Guard Riders
The Connecticut Patriot Guard Riders started off this issue with a Special Mission, a Welcome Home on June 5th at Bradley Airport for the “143rd Army National Guard Military Police” returning from deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. It’s always rewarding to welcome these heroes home and watch their families greeting them. That same day, we had a Honor Mission in Branford for Frank Taft who served during WWII in the Navy aboard APA-93 USS Barnstable, an Attack Transport in the South Pacific including the Okinawa landings. Frank went on to serve in the Navy Reserve after the war, giving a total of ten years in service to our country. This mission was a little unusual in that it was held in a retirement community. Frank had spent the last years of his life there, and many of his friends also lived there, so the location made sense.
On June 9th we had another Honor Mission. This one in Old Saybrook for Nicholas Kiako who served in the Army during the Korean War, serving on the front lines with the 2nd Infantry Division participating in multiple battles including the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge. Nicholas received several Purple Hearts and was awarded several other decorations including the Bronze Star for heroic service. June 13th brought another Honor Mission in Naugatuck for John Joseph Guisti Sr who served in the Naval Reserves and then in the Marine Corps during the Korean War where he received the Purple Heart. This was a rainy mission but we proudly stood the flag line for this hero.
June 22nd brought a pair of missions. The first a Honor Mission in Winsted for Louis Anthony Petrunti, who served in the Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Franklin D Roosevelt CV-42. The second mission was a Hero’s Welcome Home in Colchester for multiple servicemen including Colonel Scott Panagrosso, Major Ray Chicoski, CWO3 Christopher Jaison, MstrSgt Brian Weikel, and Specialist P J MNickens (all of the 1109th Theater Aviation Group (TASMG); Specialist Brandon Howes and Specialist Matthew O’Leary (both of the 143rd Military Police Company). June 23rd was the CT PGR’s “Respect Our Veterans Poker Run” in Prospect. A good time was had by all, it stayed dry for a change, and most everyone won at least one door prize.
June 29th brought a Honor Mission that hit home. This one in Manchester for Dwayne Mott, a fellow CT PGR member who died in a motorcycle accident. Dwayne stood many flag lines with us and he will be missed. June 30th brought our last Honor Mission for this issue in Milford for Karl Cliff Lindquist, who served in the Army during WWII and then in the Stamford Fire Department for 24 years.
I’d like to take a moment here to offer the CT PGR’s heartfelt thanks to Michael Freedman and his crew for running the Chili Cook-Off in Somers last month. There was A LOT of behind the scenes work here that people don’t see and the recipients were the Somers Fire Department and the CT PGR, both of which received a check for almost $10,000 apiece. The Somers Fire Department used their donation to purchase re-breathers for those heroes that run into burning building to save lives and property and the PGR will use their donation for various Veterans-related causes. Once again, this would not have been possible without the dedicated work of Michael Freedman (MadMike) and we thank him immensely for his dedication to the cause.
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. (Article by Jay D Koonz)