Connecticut Cruise News – Jun/Jul 2012

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Patriot Guard Riders

The Connecticut Patriot Guard Riders started off this issue standing a flag line on May 8th in Trumbull for Walter Rasmussen who served in the Army during WWII in the Eiropean/African/Middle Eastern theaters with the 963rd Field Artillery Battalion. Walter was the father of CT PGR member Debbie Scinto. As Debbi was walking the flag line after the ceremony shaking hands, she slipped and fell down. It looked to me like she slipped on a metal grave marker, but Debbie claims it was her father giving her one last kick in the butt. Three days later, on May 11th, we stood another Honor Mission in Bridgeport for Rosemary Maxwell, am Air Force veteran who met her husband, a jet fighter mechanic, in the service.

On May 18th, we had a pair of missions. The first was in Waterford and New London for Russell Robinson, an Army veteran. We stood another Honor Mission in Wallingford for my father, John D Koonz Jr, who served in the Navy during WWII as a radioman aboard the sub-chaser PC-1083. It’s always humbling seeing our work from the other side, as I also did a few months ago when the PGR stood for one of my buddies that died in a motorcycle accident. I know my brothers and sisters were impressed with the flag line, according to a few of them “we’re a class act.”

On May 19th we participated in a special “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day in Shelton. It’s gratifying that more communities are giving the veterans of this controversial war the welcome home they were denied years ago. On May 24th, we participated in a ceremony in Hartford where the CT military heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq & Afghanistan had their names added to the Wall of honor in the CT Legislative Office Building. Family member gave impassioned talks about their heroes at this ceremony hosted by the Lt Governor and MC’ed by Brad Davis, yes that Brad Davis, the radio/television personality that many of us may remember from our youth.

On May 25th, we stood a flag line in East Hampton to welcome home Army Captain Jeffery Pugath who has been deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. The next day, May 26th, we stood a flag line in Newtown with several Minuteman Riders at the dedication of the “Veterans Honor Garden” which contains bricks with the names of the 236 CT Veterans KIA from 1990 to the present. It was a HOT day but we all made it through. That night, we joined many others welcoming the American Warrior Fight at Bradley Airport. American Warrior provides WWII veterans with a no-cost trip to Washington DC to view the monuments that were erected to honor them.

May 30th we stood a flag line in Old Saybrook at a memorial service for Jerry Clint Toedtemeier, an Army veteran who spent 19 months in Viet Nam assigned to the 553rd Engineer Company. Jun 2nd, we were honored to participate in the send-off ceremony in Groton for multiple National Guard units, including the 1109th Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group, the 11th Military Police Detachment (Military Working dog) and the 928th Military Police Detachment (Military Working Dog Kennel Master Team). Unlike an earlier mission at the Groton-New London Airport, this time no motorcycle managed to clip any helicopter’s tail rotor with its flags.

We ended with a final Honor mission on Jun 2nd, this one joining several of our RI PGR brothers in Woonsocket to provide final honors to William Blanchard, who served in the Navy aboard UTC-1 USS Skylark during the Vietnam era. It is not un-common for PGR members to cross state lines for missions depending on their locations and schedules.

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.

The CT Patriot Guard has a new website, that we’re extremely proud of. Go to www.ctpatriotguard.org to check it out or to join up.                                                                                                         (Article by Jay D Koonz)