Connecticut Cruise News Jan/Feb 2011

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Patriot Guard Riders

In this article, I thought I would give a sample of some of the activities the Connecticut PGR  attended in 2010. Sadly, the majority of the missions were funerals, honoring our veterans by standing flag  lines at their burial services as a show of respect for their service to our country. Even if they didn’t win any medals or fight in any well-known battles, these servicemen & women are all heroes in our eyes. But we did get to attend some other, more cheerful, activities such as troop and individual Welcome Homes, the Wreaths across America escort, aiding homeless veterans, and the Gold Star Mother’s Statue escort.

The year started off with some COLD missions in January, one was for a USN WWII veteran who worked on the Manhattan Project, another was for a D-Day veteran. At this one, there happened to be one of those time/temperature signs visible from where we stood the flag line outside the church, so we could watch it climb from 7 all the way up to a balmy 13. We continued with over 100 funeral service flag lines across the state, ranging from one corner to the other, including our first trip to the hills of Sharon in the NW corner for  a WWII Mstr Sgt. We’ve stood flag lines for a Marine who won the Bronze Star in Vietnam, a 19 year old Marine from Afghanistan, D-Day veterans, an Army veteran captured during the Battle of the Bulge, a smoke jumper/paratrooper who also was a professional boxer who fought Rocky Marciano, a Desert Storm/Bosnia Army veteran who came home only to die of cancer at 39, a National Guardsman who died during his 2nd tour in Afghanistan, a victim of friendly fire,  a suicide, and a member of what some might consider an ‘Outlaw biker gang’. I’m just trying to point out the range of veterans that the PGR stands for. We are proud to be able to show our respect for their service, and are humbled when family members come around the flag line shaking our hands and thanking us afterwards. Usually we just reply “It’s our honor” since a lot of us tough bikers get a little choked up at that point. I know that those of us at the one mission where a 90 year old widow in a wheelchair and on oxygen made it a point to come around the quite large flag line to thank everyone for attending her husband’s service will never forget it.

But the ‘Thank you’s  are not why we do these things, we do them because “Our Heroes Wear Uniforms” and because “It’s the Right Thing to Do.”

Several CT PGR members also attended out-of-state missions during the year, and it’s not uncommon to have New Yorkers attend CT missions. CT PGR members attended missions in NY/RI/MA during 2010. One mission on Long Island for a Vietnam veteran with no living relatives was held with half-a-dozen PGR, another half-dozen military, a couple friends, and 5 bag pipers in attendance.

But the CT PGR also attended some more up-beat missions in 2010, including multiple Welcome-Home’s for troops and individuals across the state, sometimes teaming up with the NY PGR. They would provide escort from the New York airport to CT and we would join in from there. We had a very cold but heart-warming Welcome-Home for a 2LT from Cos Cob who came home on Dec 23 just in time to spend Christmas with his family. It’s always gratifying to have members of the community come out and join us on the flag lines for these Welcome Homes to show their support for their neighbor’s service.

 PGR services are free, and membership is free. Visit www.patriotguard.org for more information and to join up. Attendance at any/all missions is not required, you make the ones that you can based on timing and location. It is not required you be a veteran, and it not required you ride a motorcycle. We have one member who drives his PT-Cruiser probably 20,000 miles a year attending missions all over the northeast. The majority of the members ride Harleys or other cruisers but I’ve seen a few BMW’s, a couple trikes, some crotch-rockets, a Ducati or two, and even a rusted out Ural with a sidecar. You don’t have to stand at military attention for hours during a service, we only ask the best you can do to stand proud and show your respect. We’ve had members stand the flag line in wheelchair’s, on crutches, and with canes. We only ask that you show respect for the service that these heroes have provided our country.

Go to  www.patriotguard.org for more information or to join up.



(Article by Jay D Koonz)