Connecticut Cruise News – Nov/Dec 2011

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The Connecticut Patriot Guard Riders started off the month with an Honor Mission on Oct 6th in Ansonia for Joseph Turski, who served in the Navy during WWII as a bosuns mate on a minesweeper, serving during the invasion of Normandy, then in Southern France, then in the Pacific. Two days later, on Oct 8th, we had another Honor Mission. This one on Plainfield for Wilbert Tex Dettman, who served in the Navy during WWII and Korea. Tex originally served on the submarine tender USS Holland, but volunteered for submarine duty. He was at the Pearl Harbor Submarine Base when the Japanese attacked on Dec 7th 1941. He went on to serve on the submarines Swordfish, Thresher, Anthedon, Pogy, and Redfish during WWII and was recalled during the Korean Conflict for further service on the submarine Threadfin. In recognition of his WWII submarine service, he was made an honorary crewmember of the USS Texas (SSN-775) one of the newest Virginia-class attack subs. On Oct 10th, we had another Honor Mission in Northford for Patrick Carafeno, who served in the Navy during WWII aboard the USS Atka (an icebreaker) and during Korea on PC-564 (a sub-chaser).

During the first half of October, multiple members spent multiple days delivering and assembling furniture at the “Female Soldiers Forgotten Heroes” home in Bridgeport in preparation for the grand opening on Oct 21st where we stood a flag line. Female Soldiers: Forgotten Heroes (FS:FH) is the first community-based transitional home dedicated to homeless female Veterans and their children less than two years of age in Connecticut. FS:FH provides 15 beds of transitional housing with case management services. In addition, the program provides or refers residents to additional specialized services that address the unique needs of the female Veterans.

While half were standing a flag line at the FS:FH Grand Opening on Oct 21st, the other half were standing an Honor Mission in Milford for Alfredo Crego, an Army veteran. The next day, Oct 22nd, brought another Honor Mission, this one on Norwich for Albert Tulli, a Marine veteran who served during the Vietnam era. On Oct 27th, the CT PGR provided a flag-truck escort home for Army SSgt Joseph Ciccio who was returning from Afghanistan, along with a flag line at his home for his arrival. Several friends and neighbors joined us on the flag line to welcome this hero home. On Oct 29th, we had a Honor Mission in Hampton for Maurice Caya, a WWII Army veteran who served in the South Pacific in the 101st Cavalry Division.

Saturday Nov 5th brought a pair of missions, so we divided our forces to cover both. Some went to the Hartford Armoury for a Send-Off Ceremony for the “142nd Area Support Medical Company” of the Connecticut Army National Guard. It was our honor attending along with family and friends to see these heroes off. We will be just as proud to stand next year when these heroes are welcomed home. Some members attended a Honor Mission in Middletown for Robert Ferguson, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam in the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry, 1st Infantry Division, becoming the Commander of the Troop’s Medical APC during intensive combat operations, earning the Bronze Star medal among other awards. This Honor Mission was somewhat unique in that as part of the graveside ceremony there was a woman there chanting/singing a Hawaiian prayer, and several attendees spread wood shavings in the grave after offering them up in prayer

R.I.P. to all the heroes we stood for this month. We hope we provided some measure of comfort to their family and friends as we stood to show our final respect for their service to this country.

The CT PGR leadership has changed over the last few months. Last month the Cruise News had an article about our new State Captain Gregg Barratt. This month I am pleased to introduce the CT PGR’s two new Assistant State Captains, Jeff Hartke and Mac MacArthur.

Jeff “Stick” Hartke is a retired US Air Force Technical Sergeant, currently employed by the US Department of Agriculture, as an IT Specialist, on Plum Island, New York. He has been a member of the Patriot Guard Riders since 2007, first in South Dakota when he was Stationed at Ellsworth AFB, near Rapid City. He received welcome home missions from his deployments in Iraq, and arrival in CT. While deployed in Iraq he provided heads-up on KIAs to the PGR. Stick has been a lifelong CT resident, and rides a 2011 FXDF

Mac is a Navy Submarine veteran of 13 ½ years and a reservist who retired after 14 years. Worked for 29 years as an industrial electrician, retiring after 20 years at his last employer as Maintenance Foreman. He became a member of Patriot Guard in March 2006 and serves as Senior Ride Captain for state of Connecticut.        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.