Patriot Guard Riders
The Connecticut Patriot Guard Riders started off this issue with a Special Mission on Apr 13th in East Hampton to Welcome Home a pair of Heroes. Army Spc Eric Haury was returning from a deployment to Afghanistan, where he was injured, receiving a Purple Heart and was also awarded a Combat Action Medal. USMC LCpl David Jensen was also returning from duty in Afghanistan. He was trained as an aviation ordnance man and as an aerial refueler, working on C-130s. East Hampton has a tree on the town green circled with yellow ribbons for each of their deployed servicemen and women, and they have a Welcome Home ceremony when each one returns, and personally removes his/her ribbon from the tree. It’s very nice to see the town step up and do this. Sure would be nice if other towns followed their example.
The next day Apr 14th, in East Haddam, we had another Yellow Ribbon Ceremony. This one a ribbon tying one to signify the deployment for five members of our Armed Forces: Army Spc Matthew Shea, Marine LCpl Dillon Carter, Marine LCpl Paul Huot Jr, Navy Lt Cmdr Philip J. Moore, and Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Luke Newton. Apr 20th brought our first Honor Mission of this issue, in Norwich for Robert Foster Williams who served in the Air Force in Korea. On Apr 21st we were honored to stand a flag line at a “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration” in Guilford.
The CT PGR was proud to join our brothers and sisters of the Massachusetts PGR in the flag lines for the Apr 22nd wake and the Apr 24th interment of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier, murdered by the two men responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings. Very nice turn out of the community to mourn this 26 year old. On Apr 27th we were honored to stand a flag line at the opening ceremony of the Norwich Veterans Council’s “Anniversary of the Ending of the Vietnam War.” More and more communities are realizing that the veterans of the Vietnam War were not treated with the proper respect years ago, and are trying to make amends now.
On Apr 27th we had another Honor Mission. This one was in Torrington for Richard Yurchick who served in the Army after Korea. After military honors were presented at the funeral home, this veteran’s daughter carried her father’s ashes on the back of her motorcycle on a short ride, accompanied by several PGR members on their bikes. That same night, we helped welcome back the members of the latest American Warrior Flight at Bradley Airport. American Warrior provides WWII, and now Korean, veterans an expense-paid trip to Washington DC to see their monuments. It’s gratifying to see the reactions of these veterans as they are welcomed back to CT after a long day. Some of these veterans act 20 years younger that day, and their own relatives tell us they can’t stop talking about the experience for weeks.
On May 3rd in Manchester, we had a Honor Mission in Manchester for Martin Williams who served in the Air Force in Korea. Martin was a proud PGR member in Florida and has stood many flag lines. We were glad to return the honor. May 4th in Somers was the “New England Regional Chili Cook Off” benefiting the Somers Fire Department and the CT Patriot Guard. A good time was had by all, even though a few throats may have been burned slightly in the tasting process.
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)