Friday, July 17, 2009

Patriot Guard Riders

Because of Eutychus comments regarding SPC Joshua R. Farris body retrieval at Austin-Bergstrom Airport yesterday, and my subsequent comments, I just wanted to mention the Patriot Guard Riders.

If any of you gentlemen or ladies would like to join us in honoring our servicemen and women, we would love to have you join us. It's one of the toughest things I have ever done in my life, but I am proud to honor our fallen heroes.

Lineage of the Patriot Guard Riders. (From the web site)

Several people have asked how the Patriot Guard Riders got started. Here’s what we’ve been able to piece together. If anyone can give us more details, it would be greatly appreciated.

It all started back in early August of 2005 with the American Legion Riders chapter 136 from Kansas. They were appalled to hear that a fallen hero’s memory was being tarnished by misguided religious zealots who were protesting at funerals. They decided to do something about it. At the ALR 136 August meeting, Director: Chuck " Pappy " Barshney appointed members, Terry “Darkhorse” Houck, Cregg “Bronco 6” Hansen, Steve “McDaddy” McDonald, and Bill ”Wild Bill” Logan to form a committee to strategize and form a battle plan to combat Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church.

When they heard that the WBC was going to protest at the Funeral of Sgt. John Doles in Chelsea, Oklahoma, they established a Mission Statement, which included getting the families permission and contacting Law Enforcement and other Motorcycle Groups in Oklahoma. They agreed that their ultimate goal was to get veterans and motorcycle organizations involved in every state so that each state could handle the situation internally and not rely on other states to do the job. They were very successful in mustering riders to honor Sgt. Doles and limiting the intrusion by the WBC.

After the Chelsea Mission the Kansas American Legion Riders wanted all Motorcycle Groups/ Organizations to be recognized. On the 18th of October 2005 the Patriot Guard name was established and was announced on the 27th of October 2005 to the 100 + motorcyclists present at the Tonganoxie Mission to Honor Spc Lucas Frantz.

Following the missions in South Haven, KS and a later ride in Edmond, OK, Jeff “Twister” Brown, from Broken Arrow, OK, decided to do more than just ride. He saw a need to get a strong nation-wide communications and recruiting program in place. He contacted the original AL riders in Kansas and told them of his plans. They openly shared their experiences, suggestions, and encouragement. Within a matter of days, Brown had formed the Patriot Guard Riders and began a nation-wide campaign to garner support.

Similarly, after a mission ride in Greeley, CO, Hugh Knaus and Jason “Waldo” Wallin answered the call of the newly formed Patriot Guard Riders, becoming the national webmaster and communications director, respectively. Within a matter of days, a mission statement was refined and a website was built, rebuilt, and launched. A call immediately went out to individual riders and groups across the nation to join and ride with the PGR. State Captains were recruited to work more closely with the members in their area.

The growth has been phenomenal. Within a week their membership included many riders from associations like the VFW, American Legion, Rolling Thunder, ABATE, Combat Vets Motorcycle Association, Intruder Alert, Leathernecks Motorcycle Club, and almost five hundred individual riders. To the credit of Hugh and “Waldo”, the PGR website had received almost 566,000 hits in the first two weeks! Patriots from all over America and several foreign countries responded. Emails were pouring in from people wanting to support and join the newly formed PGR.

So, that’s a pretty concise picture of where we came from and where we are today. A great deal of credit goes to that small group of Kansas American Legion Riders, but none of this could have ever been accomplished without the patriot member who takes time out of their life to honor a fallen soldier and their family.


alaiyo said...

We Kansans don't let weirdo fanatics define *our* state! :) Go Patriots!

Chewy said...

I hear ya; I was born and bred in Kansas, Neodesha to be exact. Also lived in Rose Hill for a while.

alaiyo said...

Neodesha? Really?! I was raised in Lawrence. Small world!


Chewy said...

Go Jayhawks!!

eutychus said...

My wife grew up in MO (Independence) and says you people from Kansas don't know how to drive. :-)

alaiyo said...

RCJHKU indeed!

*Kansans* can't drive? It's taking your life in your hands to drive through Missouri! :-)

(actually, I'd rather drive in either of those states than in MS or here in TN . . . talk about taking your life in your hands every time you get on the road . . .)

eutychus said...

I won't argue either way of course since I'm from Texas and we all know Texas drivers are without blemish.:-0 lol

eutychus said...

*RCJHKU indeed!*

ok- I give up. What is this?

Chewy said...

Eutychus is just jealous; he learned how to drive at the all good Texans

Chewy said...

BTW, we had the service for SPC Joshua R. Farris yesterday. There was a large turnout of family, friends, military, and approximately 60 PGR members. We formed a flag line at the funeral home prior to the service, then after the service we escorted SPC Farris from the funeral home at Smithville to “Johnson City, Texas, approximately 100 miles. It was a beautiful sunshiny day, about 100 degrees.

LEO did a phenomenal job, leading the precession, seamless handoffs through many different jurisdictions, blocking off every intersection. All traffic pulled over, most out of their vehicles, with either hand on their heart, or rendering a salute to the flags displayed on the 50+ motorcycles in formation. The entire precession must have been a mile long for the trip.

It was tough, shed a lot of tears the entire trip, people on both sides of the road at multiple spots with a flag, a sign, and a salute. In one spot, Dripping Springs, TX, there we so many people on both sides of the street, they crowded out on the street holding flags and signs (all ages) until there was only one lane of traffic on a 5 line road.

Again at the cemetery we formed a flag ring, leaving an opening for view of the 3 gun salute for the family and friends. Taps is always a heartbreaker. Proud to have honored this soldier who gave it all for Freedom.